The metaphor of the frog in boiling water who doesn’t jump out because the water is increased to boiling slowly, is ubiquitous. We use it to talk about how women adjust to abusive relationships as they slowly deteriorate or how the USA is adjusting to it’s disintegrating political and social context and how the world is adjusting to climate related changes such as Covid and extreme weather. Now apparently, this is more fable than fact, but for the purposes of this blog we will work with it!
Another way to look at frogs is in their role as a bioindicator species . To quote extensively from the Earth Ranger’s website
Frogs have skin that is permeable, which means things can pass through it. (Cool!!) This allows them to both breath and drink through their skin. (Wow, what a great super power is that ?!) It also means that anything in the environment is really easy for them to absorb. ( HUMM, vulnerable?) If an environment is contaminated with things like pollutants their health will really be affected. They also live on both land and in the water, which exposes them to two different environments. Thanks to their permeable skin and duel life on and off land frogs are the go to species to figure out how an ecosystem is doing. Scientists often look at frog populations in order to figure out how healthy, or unhealthy an environment is.
Last November, I had a bit of a shift. I went from being the frog in boiling water, mainly oblivious, to becoming more like the frog as a bioindicator species. The word I used to describe my transition was that I became more permeable to stories and information about our climate crisis. I wasn’t expecting this or looking for it and was kind of surprised that it happened.
It was as if prior to this, I had an in invisible shield around me preventing climate crisis stories from having much of an impact. Somehow this shield seemed to soften and become porous and I felt as though information which I had previously disregarded, started to have an impact, started to be personally relevant and call for some kind of response. I became more like the frog with permeable skin.