Effects of Global Warming on Penguins

Topics: Global warming, Climate change, Penguin Pages: 5 (1680 words) Published: August 5, 2011
Effects of Global Warming
Penguins, Disease, Health

Global warming is a very popular topic of conversation worldwide. People have speculated wildly about the causes, effects and solutions. Although global warming does not affect my life now, it is a danger that could impact the lives of my children. Global warming is defined as an increase in the average temperature of the earth's atmosphere that is theorized to contribute to climatic change and rising sea levels due to heat trapped by greenhouse gases. Jean Baptiste Joseph Fourier was a French mathematician who came up with the first theory of global warming in 1824 when he discovered that the Earth’s temperature was increasing (NewspaperArchive.com par 3). Fourier argued that “the Earth’s atmosphere traps solar radiation and reflects it back toward the earth” (NewspaperArchive.com par 3). It was later named the greenhouse effect in the late 19th century when Nobel Laureate Svante Arrhenius used the term to “explain how carbon dioxide traps heat in the Earth's atmosphere” (NewspaperArchive.com par 4). This theory was later dismissed in favor of Milutin Milankovich’s hypothesis that climate change correlates with orbital changes of the earth, until the 1950s when scientist G.S. Callendar warned that the greenhouse effect was real and significantly impacting Earth’s atmosphere (NewspaperArchive.com par 5). The media speculated in the 20th century about the possible effects; some sources predicted the return of the ice age while others wondered about the massive flooding caused by the melting of the ice caps (NewspaperArchive.com par 6). Through reading and basic research I have discovered that global warming negatively impacts several species of penguins, infectious diseases, and public health and mortality rates aggravated by floods, droughts, and heat waves. Juame Forcada and his colleagues from the British Antarctic Survey and Natural Environment Research Council have investigated the effects of climate warming and resulting sea ice reductions on the habitats of Adélie and chinstrap penguins. (Forcada et al. 411). Forcada further asserts that new evidence implies that global warming has caused the number of cold years, and consequently heavy winter sea ice, to decrease which harmfully effects “ice-dependent penguins” (411). Specifically, the populations of Adélie and chinstrap penguins have declined due to breeding failures and decreasing food supply (419). “A study of the breeding performance and diet of chinstrap and Adélie penguins…indicated that both species had breeding failures…during the most persistent negative anomaly in sea ice extent…associated with a reduction in Antarctic krill biomass” (419). Both Adélie and chinstrap penguins are dependent on Antarctic krill as a staple of their diet (Gonzalez et al. 2). Areas where the food supply is dependent on sea ice as a constant feature of the environment indicates that climate warming will result in simultaneous population declines (Forcada et al. 421). Celine Le Bohec from the Departement d’Ecolgie, et Ethologie, at the Institut Pluridisciplinaire Hubert Curien and her colleagues agree that the same adverse effects impact the King penguin population, “Warm events negatively affect both breeding success and adult survival of this seabird…Breeding reveals an immediate response to…warm phases of El Nino Southern Oscillation affecting food availability” (Le Bohec et al. 2493). In addition, the king penguins’ survival and breeding success is reduced when the air temperature and sea-surface temperature is high (2495). Finally, Le Bohec concludes that, “King penguin populations are at heavy extinction risk under the current global warming predictions” (2493). The consequences of global warming heavily affect the marine ecosystem. (Forcada et al. 411). “Many health outcomes and diseases are sensitive to climate, including…infectious diseases” (Patz, Olson 535). According to J.A. Patz and S. H....
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