Culture War Dispatches

from a Progressive People's Republic

Monday, February 25, 2008

Penguin catastrophe!

A Globe story “Antarctic penguins face climate catastrophe” cites a “recent study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.” The study abstract “suggests a 9% decline in adult survival for a 0.26°C warming.” Given the IPCC prediction of a global temperature rise of 0.6 °C over the next 100 years, this means the penguin population of 2 million will decline to 1.82 million in the next 40 to 50 years (according to the Globe, after “rebounding from near extinction in the last century”—an extraordinary event that might have been examined by the reporter, given that the globe was also warming during this period). This prediction assumes that Antarctica will follow global temperature patterns—which in fact it has not in recent decades; apart from the warming in the Antarctic Peninsula—2% of the land mass of Antarctica—the continent has been cooling over the last 35 years. Does this warrant a projection of “catastrophe” and population “collapse”?