Rescue that frog!

A scientist’s call to informed action on Global Climate Change

Who is that frog?

Image credit: Gore, An Inconvenient Truth (documentary film), 2006.

We are that frog!

A funny thing about frogs. If you try to throw a frog into a pot of boiling water, it will immediately sense the danger and jump out. But if, instead, you drop the same frog into a pot of lukewarm water, then slowly bring it to a boil, the frog will not sense the danger. It will just sit there, and sit there, while the temperature slowly rises, until … (hopefully) it’s rescued.

The title of this site is inspired by an analogy that has been used to explain the potential for humanity to do nothing to prevent an obvious threat to our very existence (global climate change), even though that threat is materializing before all of our eyes, and even though we possess the technological capabilities to prevent it. Of course, a key difference between us and the frog is, if global climate change is our pot of water, we must rescue ourselves!

Purpose and contents of this site

A first purpose of this site is to provide, in a readable format, descriptions of the evidence for anthropogenic global climate change (climate change caused by us). There are many other resources on the web that also do this – I encourage seeking information from other sources. For example, the Wikipedia site on Global Warming is excellent. While I try to make the information on this site readable, another important feature about this site is I include links to primary scientific research. That is, the original, peer-reviewed scientific studies from which the conclusions are drawn. While lately you may see folks on the news disputing what is true and what is not, and (ridiculously) even the very nature of truth, I hope you will find these links useful to convince yourself that the information on this website is fact-based.

A promise: this is not a partisan site with links to biased sources of information! On many cultural issues, like how to distribute our tax burden, we are a sharply polarized nation. These issues require value judgments, and arguing about such judgments is a healthy part of democracy. Global climate change is fundamentally different, in that most of the determinations we need to make are subject to scientific inquiry. If we stick a thermometer into a kettle of water containing a frog, I assume Republicans and Democrats can come to a robust agreement on the temperature. The same applies to many of the issues related to global climate change.

A second purpose of this site is to inform readers periodically about current events and news related to global climate change. If you are interested, you can subscribe to my email service to see these periodic updates that I post on the Frog Blog.

A third purpose of this site is to inspire action directed to changing public policies to reduce the harmful effects of global climate change. Having become informed on this issue, I am extremely concerned that we are not doing enough. To the extent you become informed, I believe you will share my concern. If you are interested in taking action, I provide some resources, suggestions, and examples on the Take Action page.

Contents of this site

Topics on this site appear in the menu at the top of the left window. If you’re using a mobile device, the menu of topics may be hidden inside a menu icon at the top right of this page:

On the Frog Blog, I periodically post current events, opportunities for action, and new material added to the other topics on the site. You can subscribe to my email subscription service to receive emails whenever I post something new on the Frog Blog.

On my page, Scientific evidence of global climate change: A brief history, I present a “storybook telling” of how scientists have assembled the evidence for global climate change. This story actually began in 1824, when Joseph Fourier calculated that the surface of the Earth would be much colder than it is if not for the atmosphere, which transmits radiation from the sun to the surface but absorbs infrared radiation re-emitted by the surface, a phenomenon we are now familiar with as the Greenhouse Effect. As the Industrial Revolutions were underway around that time, other scientists hypothesized that increases in the atmospheric CO2 content due to the burning of fossil fuels would enhance this effect resulting in global warming. My story begins with early measurements of this starting around 1900. The story then follows the scientific measurements, as scientists from all over the world employed ever more sophisticated methods to document the measured evidence. I have tried to write the story in an entertaining way, in short episodes. If you can spare around 10 minutes, you should be able to read an episode. There are also links to the original scientific work. For example, you can see the original 1905 hand drawing of an apparatus built by two British scientists to measure the atmospheric CO2 concentration. Or, a 1988 drawing of a so-called “cheese grater” used to extract ancient air bubbles from Antarctic ice cores. I continue to add episodes to the History of Evidence page as I, myself, become educated about the evidence by reading the original scientific work.

On the scientific consensus page, I address the extent to which scientists agree about anthropogenic global climate change. You may hear various politicians disagree about this consensus. For example, an often-repeated claim is that “97% of scientists agree” global climate change is real and caused by humans. Others throw snowballs on the Senate floor and claim there is widespread disagreement among scientists or that the issue is complex and not well understood. Did you know there have actually been scientific studies of how well scientists agree about global climate change? On scientific consensus, I review and provide links to that scientific evidence on the agreement of scientists. I also compare the opinions of scientists, the general public, and our leaders. You may be surprised to see the differences. Finally, I compare the current “controversy” about climate change to a past “controversy” about which we know the outcome: whether smoking is bad for you. You may find the similarities striking.

While it’s interesting and useful to become informed about the detailed scientific evidence, it turns out that evidence of global warming is all around us and readily seen with our own eyes. On Before Our Eyes, I gather together images of the changing Earth that anyone can see, and that have been attributed directly to global climate change caused by us.

On Possible Futures, I gather together short articles on the best scientific projections of the likely consequences of the decisions we make with regard to global climate change. If we keep burning fossil fuels, what might happen to the sea level? To farm land? Which is likely to be more expensive, changing to carbon-neutral energy sources now, or adapting to the consequences of fossil fuel use later?

On Numbers for Pondering, I present groupings of numerical statistics related to global warming. In the tradition of “Harper’s Index,” each grouping is arranged to inspire thoughtful reflection about an aspect of the problem.

My Bibliography page provides direct links to the original scientific papers referenced on other pages of the site.

Finally, on my Take Action page, I provide resources and suggestions for acting to influence our leaders on the issue of global climate change. I am convinced it’s the most serious challenge our species faces – probably an existential challenge. It’s also a solvable challenge. In fact, technologies to address it exist now. They are even being built at the required scales, just not quickly enough. Meanwhile, some among us, including many of our leaders, continue to live in denial that we even have a problem. Surely, providing our children a livable planet must be our highest priority. We need to encourage our leaders  to prioritize accordingly.

Will the frog rescue itself? The time to do so is now. The rescue will never be easier or less costly than it is at this moment, and every moment, year, and certainly decade we wait will make the rescue increasingly difficult, expensive, and risky.

Please join me on a journey of learning and action.