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The Frog Boiling Syndrome – Are We Getting Accustomed to Climate Change?

The contemporary world is facing one of its most serious challenges – climate change. Earth’s climate system, a dynamic and intricate system, is constantly undergoing transformations. Despite ample scientific evidence indicating ongoing changes, there are still voices that question their existence. Global warming and its consequences are becoming increasingly evident, and observed extreme weather events pose an undeniable challenge. However, is humanity, like the frog in boiling water, gradually becoming accustomed to these changes?

In the context of many other natural processes subjected to scientific analysis, climate change represents a unique phenomenon. Due to its global scope, discussions about the causes, effects, and direction of these changes have entered mainstream culture. On a daily basis, mass media inundate us with information about floods, hurricanes, or increasingly frequent fires, all of which result from intensifying extreme weather events.

Therefore, it’s not surprising that scientists have decided to explore this media aspect of global climate processes. They conducted an analysis of over 2 billion social media posts that appeared between 2014 and 2016. The research results indicate that the number of comments regarding climate or weather increased when temperatures (or weather-related phenomena) were unusual for that time of the year. However, if such abnormal deviations were observed in the following years, the number of comments decreased. One of the conclusions drawn from this analysis is the supposition that relying solely on our senses and cognitive abilities may not enable us to accurately diagnose the course of global climate processes or even local weather phenomena.

The Frog Boiling Syndrome

Contemplation on this subject becomes essential because the ability to understand, predict, and respond appropriately to climate change is crucial for the future of our planet. In the context of this issue, the concept of the “Frog Boiling Syndrome” takes on special significance. This analogy helps us understand how gradual climate changes can affect society’s perception and reactions. In this case, the frog represents us as a society, and the pot of water symbolizes the natural environment.

The gradual heating of the water is equivalent to the gradual rise in temperature and other consequences of climate change. Because these changes occur gradually and are not always immediately dramatic, there is a risk that people may not perceive their seriousness or pay sufficient attention to what is happening.

This suggests that if we do not take immediate and effective actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, save energy, and protect the natural environment, we may end up in a situation where climate changes become irreversible and have a negative impact on life on Earth. Therefore, it is important for society, institutions, governments, and industry to take immediate and decisive actions to mitigate climate change, promote sustainable energy, protect forests and oceans, and support initiatives to combat global warming. Otherwise, we risk falling into the trap of the Frog Boiling Syndrome and facing irreversible consequences of climate change.

On the other hand, the new climate conditions, characterized by higher global temperatures leading to the increase in extreme weather events, are gradually becoming a new normal to which we are adapting. Could we be “boiling” ourselves in this way? This question remains open.

Dr. Eng. Tomasz Zgoła

18/10/2023

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