[Letters] Like a boiling frog

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[Letters] Like a boiling frog

If a frog is put into a pot of boiling water, it will leap out right away to escape the dangerous heat. But if the frog is placed in cool water that is slowly heated, it will not perceive the danger and will remain in the water until it is cooked to death. The so-called “boiling frog syndrome” is an anecdote that is often used to describe the inability of people to react to gradual changes until it is too late. We are boiling frogs when it comes to the problem of global warming. Currently, there is too little being done to address its devastating effects.

Global warming is progressing at an incredible speed. Due to massive amounts of greenhouse gas emissions, the average temperature is increasing every year, causing icebergs to melt and contributing to rising sea levels. When people hear words like “global warming,” “rise in temperature,” and “climate change,” they tend to imagine roaming polar bears looking for food and mass amounts of ice glaciers breaking down into the water. However, that is certainly not the only effect of global warming.

Numerous South Pacific nations like Kiribati, Vanuatu, the Marshall Islands, Tuvalu and parts of Papua New Guinea are at high risk of being submerged. Many societies native to these islands are being forced to move, but have nowhere to go due to strict immigration rules in the neighboring developed nations like Australia and New Zealand. If global warming continues to accelerate, there might be unpredictable outcomes influencing socioeconomic factors and lifestyles of people. Major environmental changes will worsen the situation of food shortages, floods and pandemics, resulting in global instability both politically and socially. Global climate change is now said to pose strategic challenges to national security plans. The rising sea levels will increase the number of marine territories to defend, which could ultimately lead to severe conflicts between nations disputing over shipping channels and deep sea resources. If future predictions of the possible impacts of climate change come to fruition, the world would not only be devastated by hazardous environmental conditions but also by political and economic instability.

Human activities are boiling the frogs at an increasing speed, but there is far too little being done to alleviate the situation. The issue of global warming and the possible effects of climate change have been debated for years in the international community. Numerous leaders and experts have tried to come up with solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. However, years of debate and negotiation have not brought any substantial changes to solving the problem, while the Earth’s atmosphere is heating up like a pot of boiling water every second. The problem in past talks is inefficiency. Many multilateral approaches were attempted, but issues were never completely resolved and resolutions were not always put into action. A prime example of this is the Kyoto Protocol. The collective international agreement directed toward the reduction of greenhouse gases was signed and ratified by 184 nations, but excluded the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world - the United States. The Kyoto Protocol cannot be seen as a successful measure taken against climate change.

The devastating effects of global climate change desperately call for renewed efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, this time with the participations of all nations, not just a few. It is my hope that the upcoming Conference of Parties that will take place this December in Copenhagen will provide the world with new coordinated efforts aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and the alleviation of global warming.

During the meetings, it is absolutely crucial for the U.S and China to actively play a role in setting an example for other nations in the world by capping their emissions rates. However, coming to a consensus does not necessarily mean that both the developed and the developing world would have to take equal responsibility. Under the principle of “common but differentiated responsibility,” developed nations should be expected to comply with heavier restrictions on their industries and to invest more money in developing green technology. With this in mind, multilateral consensus should be made, quickly and efficiently to stop our planet from getting any closer to destruction, much like the frog in the boiling water waiting unknowingly until he cooked to death. Yang Jee-young, Bundang High School
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