Monday, October 13, 2008

Penguins Threatened by Climate Change

Even a global temperature increase of 2°C is likely to cause sharp declines in penguin colonies.

A new WWF report – 2°C is Too Much – shows that the colonies of 50 per cent of the iconic emperor penguins and 75 per cent of the Adélie penguins are under threat.

Climate change models forecast that a 2°C temperature rise above pre-industrial level could be a reality in less than 40 years, producing a strong reduction in the sea ice cover of the Southern Ocean which is an essential nesting and feeding ground for Emperor and Adélie penguins.

A reduction in the sea ice is also likely to have a knock-on effect on the abundance of krill, which is a vital food source for penguins....

A rise in global average temperatures of 2°C is widely regarded as a threshold level for unacceptable risks of dangerous climate change. Many recent climate models forecast likely temperatures rises in excess of this.
The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is pushing for a new international agreement to reduce greenhouse gases, to replace the Kyoto Protocol. That may well happen. I am afraid, though, that without a full commitment from the major greenhouse gas producing countries we will see many of these dire predictions happen.