March of the Penguins Dwindles


“Penguins may be the tuxedo-clad version of a canary in the coal mine, with generally ailing populations from a combination of global warming, ocean oil pollution, depleted fisheries, and tourism and development, according to a new scientific review paper.

A University of Washington biologist detailed specific problems around the world with remote penguin populations, linking their decline to the overall health of southern oceans.

“Now we’re seeing effects (of human caused warming and pollution) in the most faraway places in the world,” said conservation biologist P. Dee Boersma, author of the paper published in the July edition of the journal Bioscience. “Many penguins we thought would be safe because they are not that close to people. And that’s not true.”

The whole ocean is connected. Ed Lorenz described what is popularly referred to as the Butterfly Effect: a butterfly flaps its wings in Tokyo creating a tornado in the American Midwest. All the plastic, contaminants, oil spills and other pollutants will eventually make its way to every corner of the globe through water or wind currents. Diluted, yes, but over time it accumulates because it ain’t ever leaving. Add overfishing the penguins prey and decreasing ice cover due to climate change and eventually the point of no return will be past. The question remains, will we join them?

Now back to our regularly scheduled programming!