Global warming effects are slow, incremental and mostly unwanted because they alter the environment.
Changes to rainfall, temperature, frequency and intensity of severe weather, shifts in seasonality, and other locally significant effects such as seal level rise and melting glaciers affect food security, our water supplies, economic stability, and in extreme case our lives.
The problem is that the effects of global warming are not immediate and obvious but creep up on us almost unoticed.
Drop a frog into a tub of hot water and it thrashes around in a desperate attempt to escape.
Drop a frog into a tub of cold water and it is happy. It swims around like any frog would. Heat the water in the tub and the frog swims around as it slowly cooks because it has no way to detect danger from the gradual increase in temperature.
Even though humans are much smarter than frogs our innate response to threats is similar.
As Daniel Gilbert, Professor of Psychology at Harvard explains, our big brains evolved to respond to threats that are
Our brains detect and tell our bodies how to respond to a snake in the grass, a lion on the prowl, the edge of a cliff or being confronted by a neighbor brandishing a spear.
The brain detects these threats in an instant and primes our bodies to fight or flee.
The effects of global warming include changes to the frequency, intensity and/or extent of
rising sea levels
Along with changes to the weather that are there, but more subtle.
These global warming effects are
We are not disgusted or repulsed by a 2 degree Celsius warming in global average temperature, perhaps just a little nervous at the uncertainty of the effects.
We already have cyclones, droughts, heat waves, cold snaps and other extreme weather events. Global warming only makes these feature more or less intense sometime in the future.
The effects creep along undetected just like the water heating up under the frog’s bowl.
Consequently we tend to react like the frog – as though nothing is happening.
This may not be very smart.
some coastal areas will be more vulnerable to sea level rise and storm surges
This section of climate change wisdom explores some of the climate effects through both the logic and the psychology.
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one effect will be an increase in wildfires — this one in the Blue Mountains, NSW Australia