One of the great aspects of science is that most of the time the news is good. New discoveries are constantly being made that improve life for humans and animals. Sadly, sometimes the news is not so good. In this story about emperor penguins, as with most other stories about global warming, the news is not good. However, since emperor penguins are one of my favorite animals, I think that even a sad story deserves our attention. I hope you think so too.
Emperor penguins are awe inspiring.
If you’ve seen the movie, then you know how amazing emperor penguins are. The adults journey for miles over ice to breed, then the dads stay through the long Antarctic winters guarding the eggs. Come spring, the adults take turns going fishing and bringing back food for the newly hatched chick. It seems incredible that they survive at all.
How the “March of the Penguins” came to be:
The population followed in the movie has been studied since the 1960s by French scientists (the documentary was also filmed by two French men). Over the past 50 years they’ve amassed a large amount of data about this particular group of emperor penguins. Now, using this data, another scientist has predicted what may happen to this group of penguins over the coming years given the current predictions of global warming.
The bad news:
Like polar bears at the opposite end of the earth, penguins depend on ice for their entire lives. The birds use the ice to fish. The fish that they feed on lives off plankton that lives under the ice. Without the sea ice, this group of emperor penguins will be another victim of global warming.
The good news:
Predictions for the future are just that, predictions. Humans can change, global warming can be alleviated. As the cost of oil continues to soar, green alternatives will begin to look better and better. As in the movie “Happy Feet,” we could change the future for these penguins.
Wikipedia can tell you more about emperor penguins.
Science summarizes the original article.
Abstract of the original article.
Website of the movie. If you haven’t seen it, go and watch it. Seriously. Do it now.
Photo by ASOC Pictures