We Are Not Frogs!

frog-in-boiling-water

Image from http://www.small-house-building.com/sustainable-building/wisely-using-the-earths-resources/

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, we have just experienced the hottest combined global land and ocean temperatures for April, May, and June on record (July Global temperature record will be published by NOAA on August 12, 2014). Each month individually set a record, and the three months taken together also set a record.  The departure from average for global ocean temperatures was greater in June than it has ever been for any month since record keeping began. The global measurements have been taken for the past 135 years. Let that settle in our minds a bit. For the past 135 years (at least), no human beings have experienced a warmer April, May, and June.

Most of us likely did not even notice a difference, and therein lies one of the greatest challenges that we face in mobilizing individual, social, and political will to address the greatest moral challenge of our time. Many, perhaps most famously Al Gore, have likened our situation to being like a frog in a pot of water that is slowly warming to a boil. If the water is heated slowly enough, the frog does not even know what is happening until it is too late. The only way to save the frog is to remove it from the water.

That is the bad news. Here is the good news: We are not frogs! We have the ability to see and understand what is happening to us. Our best scientists and a carefully applied scientific method are giving us all the warning we need to recognize what is happening and remove ourselves from this slowly warming situation, and we have the ability if we work together to slow and hopefully (in generations to come) halt the warming. We are not frogs, and it is time that we begin acting like it before it is too late.

As with all analogies, the boiling frog analogy has its limitations. Unlike the frogs, we can’t realistically remove ourselves from the planet like frogs can be removed from a pot of warming water. There really is nowhere for us to leap, so we have to find a way to halt or lower the heat. Also, there is documented evidence that frogs actually do become agitated and attempt to remove themselves from the warming water, leading Joe Romm to conclude that our inactivity in relation to climate change makes us more like “brainless frogs.” See http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/06/02/1931301/humans-are-not-like-slowly-boiling-frogs-we-are-like-slowly-boiling-brainless-frogs-2/

 

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About Mark Y. A. Davies

Mark Davies is The Wimberly Professor of Social and Ecological Ethics and Director of the World House Institute for Social and Ecological Responsibility at Oklahoma City University. From 2009 to 2015, Mark was dean of the Petree College of Arts and Sciences and Wimberly Professor of Social Ethics at Oklahoma City University. Previously, Mark was dean of the Wimberly School of Religion at Oklahoma City University and Founding Director of the Vivian Wimberly Center for Ethics and Servant Leadership. Prior to becoming dean of the Wimberly School of Religion in 2002, he was associate dean of the Petree College of Arts and Sciences at Oklahoma City University and chair of the department of philosophy. Mark has published in the areas of Boston personalism, process philosophy and ethics, and ecological ethics. Dr. Davies serves on the United Methodist University Senate, which is “an elected body of professionals in higher education created by the General Conference to determine which schools, colleges, universities, and theological schools meet the criteria for listing as institutions affiliated with The United Methodist Church.” He and his wife Kristin live in Edmond, OK in the United States, and they have two daughters. The views expressed by the author in this blog do not necessarily represent the views of Oklahoma City University.
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