The Parrot and the Igloo Notes

The Frog

129   “If a frog jumps”: Davis Guggenheim, Dir., An Inconvenient Truth, Paramount Classics, 2006.


129   They phoned: Consultant Debunking Unit, “Next Time, What Say We Boil a Consultant,” Fast Company, October 1995.

“In case you haven’t heard it (and who hasn’t? the frog story ranks number one on the change hit parade), Manfred Kets de Vries published the fable in his recent book, Life and Death in the Executive Fast Lane.”


129   “If a frog had a means”: This is the AMNH’s Dr. George R. Zug.


130   “they don’t sit still for you”: Harvard Professor Doug Melton.


130      “‘a lively sense of urgency’: Editorial, “Coal, Carbon Dioxide and Climate,” The New York Times, July 28, 1977.


130      “rushing to broad accord”: Peter Passell, “Economic Watch: Curing the Greenhouse Effect Could Run Into the Trillions,” The New York Times, November 19, 1989.


130      “Just how urgent is the problem?: William K. Stevens, “Experts On Climate Change Pondering: How Urgent Is It?”, The New York Times, September 9, 1997.


130      “Another Failure on Climate Change”: Editorial, “Another Failure on Climate Change,” The New York Times, June 11, 2008.


130      “Citing Urgency”: Coral Davenport, Gardiner Harris, “Citing Urgency, World Leaders Converge on France for Climate Talks,” The New York Times, November 30, 2015.


131      “A wait-and-see policy”: Walter Sullivan, “Increased Burning of Fuels Could Alter Climate,” The New York Times, November 30, 2015. The University of Wisconsin’s Dr. Verner E. Suomi.


131      “By the time we know”: Michael D. Lemonick, “The Heat Is On,” Time Magazine, October 19, 1987.


131      “the least controversial theory”: This was pioneer climatologist Stephen Schneider—who would later win a MacArthur genius grant, then election to the National Academy of Sciences. The first speaker was University of Chicago’s Veerabhadran Ramanathan—later known as “The Pope’s climate scientist.”


131      “If we wait for proof”: Sharon Begley, Mark Miller, Mary Hager, “The Endless Summer?”, Newsweek, July 11, 1988.


131      “Each decade of delay”: Editorial, “Spring, in the Greenhouse,” The New York Times, April 3, 1988.


131      “There’s every reason”: Editorial, “The Greenhouse Effect Is For Real,” The New York Times, January 27, 1989. “Climatologists will argue for many years whether the greenhouse warming has started. But there’s every reason to take action immediately, and not wait until that debate is concluded. Once warming begins, its momentum will continue—even if gas emissions could be stopped immediately—for the three decades or so that it takes to heat the oceans.”


131      “[Scientists] do not have”: William K. Stevens, “With Cloudy Crystal Balls, Scientists Race To Assess Global Warming,” The New York Times, February 7, 1989.


131      “The EPA warns”: Philip Shabecoff, “E.P.A. Proposes Rules To Curb Warming,” The New York Times, March 14, 1989.


131      “Experts warn”: Allan R. Gold, “Ideas & Trends; Global Warming Means New Global Politics,” The New York Times, November 12, 1989.


131      “following a well-documented human tendency”: William K. Stevens, “Governments Start Preparing For Global Warming Disasters,” The New York Times, November 14, 1989.


131      “the climate will already be locked into”: Editorial, “Hot Air and the White House Effect,” The New York Times, November 24, 1989.


131      “It’s already too late”: Michael D. Lemonick, “Heading For Apocalypse?”, Time Magazine, October 2, 1995.


132      “There’s a better scientific consensus”: Joby Warrick, “Consensus Emerges Earth Is Warming — Now What?”, The Washington Post, November 12, 1997. This was D. James Baker, administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. He added, “Man has reached the point where his impact on the climate can be as significant as nature’s.”


132      “strong as the one that has developed”: Donald Kennedy, “An Unfortunate U-Turn on Carbon (Editorial),” Science Vol. 291 No. 5513, March 30, 2001.


132      “The upshot is”: Mark Hertsgaard, “While Washington Slept,” Vanity Fair, May 2006.


132      “Had some individual countries”: This is Princeton’s Michael Oppenheimer. One of the subject’s great wayfaring talking heads.


132      “we’ll look back on the era beginning in 1988”: Sharon Begley, “Learning to Love Climate ‘Adaptation’ It’s too late to stop global warming. Now we have to figure out how to survive it,” Newsweek, December 22, 2007.


132      “Why the crisis hit so soon”: Jeffrey Kluger, “Earth at the Tipping Point: Global Warming Heats Up: Polar Ice Caps Are Melting Faster Than Ever... More And More Land Is Being Devastated By Drought... Rising Waters Are Drowning Low-Lying Communities... The climate is crashing, and global warming is to blame. Why the crisis hit so soon — and what we can do about it,” Time, April 3, 2006.


132      “The same studies”: Editorial, “The Senate’s Chance on Warming,” The New York Times, May 28, 2008.


133      “It is already too late to eliminate the risks entirely”: Justin Gillis, “Short Answers to Hard Questions About Climate Change,” The New York Times, November 28, 2015.

Accessed 11-6-22.


133      it may be only human beings: With then the accidental comedy in, for example, this 2019 Times piece from Eugene Linden.

Eugene Linden, “How Scientists Got Climate Change So Wrong: Few thought it would arrive so quickly. Now we’re facing consequences once viewed as fringe scenarios,” The New York Times, November 8, 2019.


For decades, most scientists saw climate change as a distant prospect. We now know that thinking was wrong. This summer, for instance, a heat wave in Europe penetrated the Arctic, pushing temperatures into the 80s across much of the Far North and, according to the Belgian climate scientist Xavier Fettweis, melting some 40 billion tons of Greenland’s ice sheet.

Had a scientist in the early 1990s suggested that within 25 years a single heat wave would measurably raise sea levels, at an estimated two one-hundredths of an inch, bake the Arctic and produce Sahara-like temperatures in Paris and Berlin, the prediction would have been dismissed as alarmist. But many worst-case scenarios from that time are now realities.


But of course experts did suggest that. Here is a predictor in the very same newspaper, at the end of the nineteen-eighties.


The need to get started on global warming, however, is not in doubt. At a recent international forum in Washington, a parade of speakers urged immediate steps to limit emissions of carbon dioxide and other harmful gases.

Thomas Lovejoy, the vice president of the Smithsonian Institute, who had previously suggested that “the great environmental struggles will be either won or lost in the 1990’s,” repeated that “massive intervention in society is required over a very short time, perhaps less than twenty years.”


The massive intervention didn’t come. And there the follow-up was, sitting in the same beaker, thirty years later.

Tom Wicker, “Still Limping Along,” The New York Times, May 9, 1989.

The Parrot and the Igloo by David Lipsky