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  • Two frogs are minding their own business in the swamp when WHAM

  • they're kidnapped.

  • They come to in a kitchen, captives of a menacing chef.

  • He boils up a pot of water and lobs one of the frogs in.

  • But it's having none of this.

  • The second its toes hit the scalding water it jumps right out the window.

  • The chef refills the pot, but this time he doesn't turn on the heat.

  • He plops the second frog in, and this frog's okay with that.

  • The chef turns the heat on, very low, and the temperature of water slowly rises.

  • So slowly that the frog doesn't notice.

  • In fact, it basks in the balmy water.

  • Only when the surface begins to bubble does the frog realize: it's toast.

  • What's funny about this parable is that it's not scientifically true... for frogs.

  • In reality, a frog will detect slowly heating water and leap to safety.

  • Humans, on the other hand, are a different story.

  • We're perfectly happy to sit in the pot and slowly turn up the heat,

  • all the while insisting it isn't our hand on the dial,

  • arguing about whether we can trust thermometers,

  • and questioningeven if they're right, does it matter?

  • It does.

  • Since 1850, global average temperatures have risen by 1 degree Celsius.

  • That may not sound like a lot, but it is.

  • Why? 1 degree is an average.

  • Many places have already gotten much warmer than that.

  • Some places in the Arctic have already warmed 4 degrees.

  • If global average temperatures increase 1 more degree,

  • the coldest nights in the Arctic might get 10 degrees warmer.

  • The warmest days in Mumbai might get 5 degrees hotter.

  • So how did we get here?

  • Almost everything that makes modern life possible relies on fossil fuels:

  • coal, oil, and gas full of carbon from ancient organic matter.

  • When we burn fossil fuels,

  • we release carbon dioxide that builds up in our atmosphere,

  • where it remains for hundreds or even thousands of years,

  • letting heat in, but not out.

  • The heat comes from sunlight, which passes through the atmosphere to Earth,

  • where it gets absorbed and warms everything up.

  • Warm objects emit infrared radiation, which should pass back out into space,

  • because most atmospheric gases don't absorb it.

  • But greenhouse gasescarbon dioxide and methane

  • do absorb infrared wavelengths.

  • So when we add more of those gases to the atmosphere,

  • less heat makes it back out to space, and our planet warms up.

  • If we keep emitting greenhouse gases at our current pace,

  • scientists predict temperatures will rise 4 degrees

  • from their pre-industrial levels by 2100.

  • They've identified 1.5 degrees of warming

  • global averages half a degree warmer than today's—

  • as a threshold beyond which the negative impacts of climate change

  • will become increasingly severe.

  • To keep from crossing that threshold,

  • we need to get our greenhouse gas emissions down to zero

  • as fast as possible.

  • Or rather, we have to get emissions down to what's called net zero,

  • meaning we may still be putting some greenhouse gases into the atmosphere,

  • but we take out as much as we put in.

  • This doesn't mean we can just keep emitting and sequester all that carbon

  • we couldn't keep up with our emissions through natural methods,

  • and technological solutions would be prohibitively expensive

  • and require huge amounts of permanent storage.

  • Instead, while we switch from coal, oil, and natural gas

  • to clean energy and fuels, which will take time,

  • we can mitigate the damage by removing carbon from the atmosphere.

  • Jumping out of the proverbial pot isn't an option,

  • but we can do something the frogs can't:

  • reach over, and turn down the heat.

Two frogs are minding their own business in the swamp when WHAM

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B1 TED-Ed frog heat carbon atmosphere greenhouse

The “myth” of the boiling frog

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    林宜悉 posted on 2021/02/16
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