Commentator Ellen Moyer is an independent environmental consultant. She blogs for the Huffington Post and is working on a new book called ” Our Earth, Our Species, Our Selves: It’s Just Not That Hard to Create a Way That Works.” She lives in western Massachusetts.
If you put a frog in a pot of room-temperature water and gradually bring the water to a boil, the frog remains in the water and dies. With its powerful legs, it could easily jump out early on, but—lacking awareness—it doesn’t.
Increasingly strident government reports make us humans aware of our warming climate, warning that we must act now to avoid runaway climate change, and its dreaded impacts like food and water shortages, infectious diseases, dislocated populations, species extinctions, and economic calamity.
Like the frog with its powerful legs, we have the tools to solve our crisis. And we know how to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, simply by letting trees live. But do we have the will to jump out of our pot?
Unlike the frog, many humans do actually recognize the problem. Increasingly frequent and severe weather emergencies are pretty hard to miss. However, the latest Gallup poll on climate change indicates that while almost 40 percent of American adults are quote unquote “Concerned Believers,” 36% are in the so-called “Mixed Middle,” and 25%, “Cool Skeptics,” don’t worry about global warming much or at all.
Here’s another frog allegory. Once upon a time, hundreds of frogs held a race to see who could climb fastest to the top of a tower. Throughout the competition, the spectators below cried out things like “It’s impossible!” and “They’ll never make it!” All but one of the frogs gave up—the one that was deaf.
So far, our governments have not only failed to solve the crisis, but they actively make the crisis worse by using our taxes to subsidize oil and gas companies, some of the richest corporations in the world. These handouts, among other things, artificially depress oil and gas prices, promoting continued fossil fuel use instead of cleaner energy sources like solar. If we eliminated this corporate pork, the International Monetary Fund estimates that worldwide emissions of carbon dioxide would decrease by 13 percent.
I worry. Will our inaction kill my frogs? As just one example of the problem, global warming will cause staggering losses of frogs and other wildlife. Sadly, and this is not a frog story, one-third of amphibian species are already globally threatened or extinct. We’re coming to a boil here, and like the frog in the warming pot, we better jump now while we still can.