The press out of Bali on December 12 includes coverage of a World Wildlife Fund (WWF) report about the fate of penguin species under climate change.
The press reports draw heavily from the press release put out by the WWF to draw attention to their report on penguins, but more importantly, the WWF’s desire for large and immediate carbon dioxide emissions restrictions. From the press reports and the WWF release, things seem bad for Antarctica’s penguin species.
But, as is the case with nearly every alarmist issue, the truth reveals quite a different story. In this case, a review of the literature on penguins, climate change, and ecosystem disturbances, reveals a large variety of penguin responses to changing conditions, changes that include in addition to climate fluctuations, a large-scale alteration to the local and regional food chain as industrial whaling and fishery operations over the course of the past several decades have significantly reduced the number of many species, including both predators and prey. This perturbation to the foodweb has likely had large impacts on the resident penguin species and makes isolating or even correctly identifying impacts from a changing climate quite difficult.