The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Blind to warming' Get set for ‘boiled frog’ fate, warns UN

Oslo, Jan. 24 (Reuters): Confronted by new evidence of global warming, will people react like frogs'

According to an often-told story, a frog will try to jump out if you drop it into hot water but the hapless creature will stay, and eventually die, if you put it in a pan of cool water and slowly bring it to a boil.

A United Nations report to be released in Paris on February 2 will include the strongest warning yet that humans are stoking global warming that may cause colossal damage to nature if, like the doomed frog, they ignore rising temperatures.

Ex-US vice-president Al Gore tells the story with croaking cartoon frogs in his movie An Inconvenient Truth to urge more action to save the planet. In his version, a hand dips in and rescues a swooning frog just as the water starts to bubble.

“It’s important to rescue the frog,” he says. And UN officials also sometimes mention the boiled frog as a cautionary tale of the dangers of human complacency about global warming.

There is only one problem — it’s not true.

“The ‘boiled frog’... is definitely an urban myth,” said Victor Hutchison, a professor emeritus at the zoology department at the University of Oklahoma in the US.

“I have investigated the thermal tolerance in reptiles and amphibians for many years. If one places the animal in a container and slowly heats it, the animal will at some point invariably try to escape,” he said.

The UN report, by 2,500 scientists, will say there is at least a 90 per cent chance that human activities led by burning fossil fuels are the main cause of warming in the past 50 years. The warming may cause ever more floods, heatwaves, droughts and rising sea levels by 2100.

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