the Air Vent

Because the world needs another opinion

First it was Polar Bears Now It’s Penguins

Posted by Jeff Id on January 28, 2009


In a dramatic and unprecedented switch of focus, from winter to summer, scientists have now used computer models to predict the demise of the antarctic Emperor penguin.  Well —- in a hundred years.

Emperor Penguins March Toward Extinction?

Screw the data they used models.

The paper, co-authored by five researchers including WHOI biologists Stephanie Jenouvrier and Hal Caswell, uses mathematical models to predict the effect on penguins of climate change and the resulting loss of sea ice.

The research indicates that if climate change continues to melt sea ice at the rates published in the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the median population size of a large emperor penguin colony in Terre Adelie, Antarctica, likely will shrink from its present size of 3,000 to only 400 breeding pairs by the end of the century.

What’s more, the researchers calculate that the probability of a drastic decline (by 95 percent or more) is at least 40 percent and perhaps as much as 80 percent.

Melt rates published by the IPCC?  Considering that antarctic sea ice has increased, I wonder what they are talking about.


“The key to the analysis was deciding to focus not on average climate conditions, but on fluctuations that occasionally reduce the amount of available sea ice,” said Hal Caswell, who is noted for his work in mathematical ecology.

Ok, I see now.  They ignored the upward trend and focused on the fluctuations.   Good, now that makes sense.

Because Jenouvrier and Caswell’s models were based on fluctuations rather than smooth trends, and because different IPCC models differ in their forecasts of future Antarctic climate, the results of the analysis incorporate uncertainty in the details of the future population growth, but the conclusions are not uncertain.  “If the future behaves anything like the IPCC models predict, the Terre Adelie population will decline, probably dramatically,” said Jenouvrier

Yup, it’s like they want me to be a skeptic.  It’s like they’re pushing sanity out of the process.  Listen to this translation – Well the models differ on forecasts of the future climate, we ignored the measured data but were certain this will happen.  Please fund us.

In the more immediate future, the study even might impact legal protections available for the emperor penguin. In December, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued a preliminary ruling declining to list the emperor penguin under the Endangered Species Act.  Caswell said this ruling is still being evaluated and research presented in this paper will have to be considered.

They want to list the penguin as an endangered species, because of potential future trouble?  Or is it for the money?

Support for this work was provided by the UNESCO/L’OREAL Women in Science program and the National Science Foundation.

Follow the money.

17 Responses to “First it was Polar Bears Now It’s Penguins”

  1. page48 said

    “Or is it for the money?”

    Ya THINK????????????????????

    In reality, how can a “not uncertain conclusion” be based on a conditional premise?

    I’m actually beginning to hope that Yellowstone blows.

  2. Annabelle said

    Haven’t the penguin populations survived fluctuations in the past?

  3. WhyNot said

    The answer to #2:

    The IPCC has either stated or will state in the near future, “The tree ring data used to verify modeling techniques will not confirm prior nor future existence of a penguin population. Further, it is uncertain whether or not a correlation can be made between tree ring data and penguin population data, so we can conclude that our organization will correlate tree ring data with penguin population densities with a high degree of certainty. Any fluctuation in the data that does not correlate with our conclusion will be removed. We can assure you that we have used the highest degree of integrity to manipulate the data to show the world the truth about global warming and the consequences thereof.”

  4. joel mcdade said

    Oh noes – not the penguins!

    Well, it doesn’t beat out the “earthquakes caused by AGW” article from last year, but that was initiated by a well known quack. Then again…

    I am sad for Woods Hole, which I’ve been to, back in the day

  5. Adam Gallon said

    “If the future behaves anything like the IPCC models predict,”
    ‘Nuff said?

  6. AEGeneral said

    Well, this is just awful news. Perhaps they can implore the Pittsburgh Penguins to put a patch on their jerseys to increase public awareness.

    By the way, I have developed a computer model which predicts that the Detroit Lions will be extinct by 2012.

    It also predicts that the Bears will win Super Bowl LXVIII. Get your bets in now, people! It’s never too early!

    I wonder if Vegas allows bets on these ridiculous climatic predictions. You’d think they could give me an over/under on average global temperatures for the next few decades. I want the under.

  7. David Jay said

    2012??? They are extinct NOW, they just don’t know it yet…

    David Jay
    (Certified Michigander TM)

  8. Jeff Id said

    I grew up in Michigan and watch only Michigan teams. So I have only one thing to say.

    Go Wings!

  9. DeWitt Payne said

    As I said somewhere else, I want to see them run the model backwards in time to see what is the effect of a massive increase in sea ice. My bet is that would predict extinction too.

  10. So first loss of sea ice will kill off polar bears. Oh wait, they can swim.
    Let’s say it’ll kill off the penguins instead! Oh wait, they can swim too.

    I think the AGW crowd are just going for the Linux-user vote now. After all, who wouldn’t act on climate change if it means saving Tux from extinction?

    As Jeff predicted, the growing absurdity and divergence between models and real life is causing them to thrash around ever harder with ever less plausible nonsense. Nice to see some predictions in the field of Climate come true(!)

  11. hswiseman said

    I saw March of the Penguins and it is amazing these doltish creatures haven’t yet expired! Let’s migrate to the absolute coldest place on earth to hatch our young and then take a frozen Bataan death march back to the sea, carrying our young upon the tops of our feet. Sheer Genius, I tell you! If the hatching grounds warm up 10C it will only be -50C. Somehow I don’t think the eggs will get overcooked. Nothing is going to eat the Penguins, that is certain. Have you ever smelt a penguin? Have you ever been at the Penguin House at the Zoo?

  12. DeWitt Payne said

    Sharks, Great Whites for example, eat penguins. Sharks will pretty much eat anything.

  13. alf said

    Can someone help me make sense of the “Global sea temperature anomaly” at It would seem that ocean temperatures are above average and have been for a while, though it is hard to actually tell. Is there better information at another sight. It seems to me that ocean temperatures would be a better measure of climate trends then surface temperatures.

  14. Layman Lurker said

    “So I have only one thing to say.

    Go Wings!”

    I think they are slipping a bit lately. You might have to switch allegiances to the Hawks. 🙂

    Go Steelers! (Vikings next year though).

  15. Jeff Id said

    No traitors here. I’m still a lions fan or supporter or I mean occasional first quarter watcher, hope r.

  16. Layman Lurker said

    Kurt Warner is a FA next year isn’t he? Wouldn’t he look good wearing Lion’s colors next season?

  17. Jeff Id said

    If we get some stars, I would love to have some more level headed ones. The lions need the character as much as the skill and I’m not sure the owners get that.

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