penguins are the new canaries down the coalmine

according to this article from the Sydney Morning Herald.

Some of climate’s best canaries are turning out to be penguins. Down the mine, an upturned songbird in a cage was the first warning of a deadly gas seep. Above ground, an age of fossil fuels later, there are different silences.

In the sub-Antarctic, king penguins fledge fewer chicks if the parents must forage in warming seas. Rising waters are swamping limited nesting space for African penguins in Namibia. And because climate change’s legacy varies capriciously, little penguins in Bass Strait seem to do better when the water temperature is up.

But it’s on the the west coast of the Antarctic Peninsula that the signal is clearest. The raucous cacophony of Adelie penguins has disappeared from the landscape as colonies collapse.

Adelie Penguin chick, head portrait in snow, Brown Bluff, Antarctica

“On top of a single high rock I see an unbearably poignant tableau,” recounts the science writer Meredith Hooper, as she witnesses the demise of a colony.

“One fluffy chick is standing, very still, on its pebble nest, with one adult. A skua stands next to them. Waiting. Death openly in attendance.”

2 Comments Posted

  1. It is a tragedy , but thats going to happen alot more. We should be pleased that so many animals have existed since the arrival of humans, We are smart enuff to know we like this world but selfish enuff to not care about the next animals world.
    The END is Near and the religous people are waiting for armaggedon(global climate change), because if the sooner it comes the sooner they can say “Told you So”

  2. The loss of species is an immense tragedy. When I take my kids to the zoo, I know that many of the animals they see now will be extinct within their lifetimes.

    Usually when people talk about the loss of plant and animal species, the issue of what unknown and useful properties (for humans) is raised. However, is it not an equally great (or greater) tragedy that such wonderful creatures will simply not be around for our children and grandchildren?

    Personally, I would have loved to see many of the animals that humans have already driven to extinction? Imagine being able to see the moa, whooly rhinoceros, mammoths etc. Forget what use they may be to people … surely these great creatures were worth having simply because they existed?

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