Goodbye, penguins!

The day may come when we’re advised during icy conditions to “walk like a penguin” and a growing number of people will not know what a penguin is.

CBS News correspondent Mark Phillips has been hanging out at the Palmer Station in Antarctica, which has been studying the Adelie penguin for years.

But in recent years the number of penguins has dropped by 85 percent, he reported this morning.

The penguins need sea ice. The sea ice season is three months shorter these days.

Scientists thought that maybe the penguins just moved farther south. They didn’t, apparently.

In other marine news, there’s a SPAM can on the bottom of the ocean, and Austin, Minn., must be so proud.

  • Rob

    The scary thing is that if the SPAM can were to be retrieved, the contents would probably still be edible…

  • chlost

    Penguin populations down 85% in “recent years”.
    Sea ice season down by 3 months.
    How do climate change deniers explain this? Just curious.

    • jon

      Some of them just ignore it.
      Others find other surveys that are contradictory…
      Some don’t bother looking for other surveys and make up their own facts…

      Some just keep hanging on to “Maybe climate scientists are fudging the data for some reason that I can’t and/or won’t explain!”

      They aren’t a cohesive group with a single belief, and some of them are just trolls who change their beliefs to be able to argue against anything that is being brought up. i.e. start with “climate change isn’t a thing!” and once that argument has been refuted move on to “But it’s not man made!” And if that argument gets refuted, say “But it’s normal for the earth to change temperature.” and just keep going until people get sick of dealing with folks who just want to be difficult and go outside and do something meaningful.

      If they were a cohesive organization with a single reasoned line in opposition to climate research it’d be easy to debunk them in one fell swoop… since they change their arguments and often hold contradictory ideas (“The climate isn’t changing” and “Climate change isn’t man made”) it’s extremely difficult to break through that duality and get to a point where you can talk to them rationally… they’ve already trained their brain to accept two contrasting statements as both true… hard to reason with that.

  • Jeff

    We only get one Earth. It baffles and saddens me why anyone would want to play politics with it.

    • rallysocks

      While ignoring the whole ‘be good stewards of the land’ advice from a widely read book.

      • Al

        Stewardship is one of the most basic principles of my faith.

        • rallysocks

          Seventh Day Adventist?

          • Al


          • rallysocks

            I ask because one of my mentors was 7th Day and their commitment to the environment and outdoors was pretty incredible. And I daresay she would take exception to the idea that 7th Day wasn’t a christian organization.

            ETA: I did not mean that all Christians don’t believe in the importance of stewardship as part of their faith, I just find that many will not believe in climate change, agree with gutting the EPA and rolling back the gains that have been made environmentally are the same people who talk about their Christianity.

            When I did attend a church, it was Congregational and for the most part were good stewards to a man. I do know folks of other denominations who also believe that, so they do exist–just not in the upper levels of the GOP.

          • Al

            Just clarifying that I wasn’t 7th Day. 🙂 7th Day is most definitely Christian.

    • X.A. Smith

      They are stalling as they amass as much wealth as possible, so when 2 billion people die from a pandemic or starvation, they can be on their private islands.

      • Jeff

        Oh, then everything makes sense now. I also heard the Rapture is coming in a few years, so there’s nothing to worry about and that we’re headed into a little ice age pretty soon, so warming things up a bit will be beneficial.

  • “Daddy what happened to all the penguins?”

    “Oh we found out they went well with sriracha and we obliterated the species.”

  • rallysocks

    //The penguins need sea ice. The sea ice season is three months shorter these days.//

    Wow…that is a LOT.

  • Heb Ienek

    On February 15, 2017, CBS wants us to know:
    Penguins quickly disappearing from Antarctica due to climate change

    Um, no.

    On 22nd October 2015, the Australian government (Antarctic Division) wanted you to know:
    Adélie penguin population almost doubles in East Antarctica
    (Since 1980)

    I found this passage, well, hilarious:
    “A proposed reduction in sea-ice extent in the mid-20 century may also have benefited Adélie penguins by enabling better access to the ocean for foraging.”

    I think, when it comes to the cult of AGW, it’s good practice to assume “not”.

    • // by enabling better access to the ocean for foraging.”

      Where do they go when the seals come along? Being a penguin seems like a tough life.

      • Heb Ienek

        Dunno. If you read the story, the population has been moving around as well as growing (again, despite what CBS said). And sea ice does seem to play a part, but no one is sure how.

        See, that’s the problem with climate change. We see something, it appears to fit our narrative, and boom; Consensus! I’m assuming “not”.

        We not only don’t know what’s going on, we can’t say, with any certainty, how things might change, or if the change will be good or bad.

        • The guy doing the “saying” is the guy who’s been at the station for 18 years. And the data on sea ice there has been collected there over the last 23 years.

          • Heb Ienek

            I run into people doing all manner of crazy stuff that excuse it by telling me “We’ve been doing it this way for 30 years, sonny!”

            Time in place is no measure of anything beyond time.

          • No, but it’s worth pointing out that there are people in Antarctica who have been there for a few decades researching. And then there are people in Minnesota on the Internet who have their own predispositions. People can decide for themselves who’s the more credible source of information.

          • Heb Ienek

            Wow. Cheap shot, Bob; and not to the point.

            The facts before us are, there is a guy in Antarctica saying something that the NOAA and the Australian government (Antarctic Division) are directly refuting. Nothing up my sleeve, see?

            Given the political motivations embedded into the climate debate, the truth isn’t just laying around for us to pick up; my predisposition is to dig for it. I guess folks can decide for themselves whether that is a worthwhile goal, but I encourage them to do their own digging.

    • Jay T. Berken

      What is your point?

    • jon

      You know that the area surveyed in your link and the location around palmer station mentioned above are about as far away as new york is from LA right? (as the crow flies, further as the penguin waddles, or swims)

      I’m guessing you also have numbers that support how an increase of 69% on one side of antarctica and a decrease of 85% on the other side isn’t reflective of an overall shrinking number?

      You probably are hiding the numbers that show how the impact of a loss of sea ice on March 14, 2014 near Detrich Island is on impacting the penguins that are at a higher latitude and thus more exposed to the warming effects are synonymous with the effects on the other side of the antarctic….

      Or are you just some one who saw some statements from an expert and said “I know better!” and then found some articles to support your believe and tossed out anything that might look like critical thinking because you already came to the answer you wanted to before you even began looking at the data?

      • Heb Ienek

        You know that the area surveyed in your link and the location around
        palmer station mentioned above are about as far away as new york is from
        LA right?

        I know, right? It’s silly to look out the window, see fewer birds and proclaim “They’re all gone!”. We should contact CBS.

        I’m guessing you also have numbers that support how an increase of 69%
        on one side of antarctica and a decrease of 85% on the other side isn’t
        reflective of an overall shrinking number?

        I’m guessing you have reliable data that proves a decrease of 85%. If you do, you’re ahead of the NOAA and the government of Australia.

        You probably are hiding the numbers…

        I’m not hiding a damn thing. If you’ve got them, post them.

        Or are you just some one who saw some statements from an expert and said “I know better!” and then found some articles to support your believe..

        Yeah well, I went through the excersize of reading articles. Tossing out unsubstantiated guesses and creatively paraphrasing a thing that was never said is another way to go, I guess.

        • jon

          So what you are saying is you’ve got nothing to support your claim that the CBS article is false.

          You’ve got an article that might suggest what you want to believe, despite it not really supporting your claim at all, because it’s a small sample of what’s actually going on.

          You’d like me to prove a statement I never made as true rather than actually support your own statements.

          A loyal foot soldier in a war on experts.

          • Heb Ienek

            Wow. OK

        • // We should contact CBS

          It depends who’s saying it. If an expert on monarch butterflies, for example, notes that their absence signals an environmental shift, I would think it would carry more weight than if if Martha the gardener doesn’t see any butterflies among her petunias.

          Clearly what the scientists at the station are reporting is in their area, there’s a measurable loss of wildlife.

          How could one side say the penguin population is up 69% and the other say it’s down 85%. One must be lying .

          But actually both area noting the same thing: That sea ice is disappearing.

          But even if they didn’t, what led you to believe that the Australian report is the correct one and the the one at the ice station is the incorrect one?

          • Heb Ienek

            Clearly what the scientists at the station are reporting is in their area, there’s a measurable loss of wildlife.

            Right. But that isn’t what CBS is putting out there; and neither were you, truth be told.

            One must be lying

            Eeyup. And look; those out there that want to believe should be the ones blasting things like this ridiculous “Climate Diaries” series. Refutable, easily refutable, BS like this is absolutely killing the narrative and if reliable data that supports AGW believers ever does present itself, it’s going to make it that much harder to convince skeptics.

            Don’t get upset with those of us out here that don’t buy pigs in a poke, and don’t make it worse yourselves by applying invective where logic fails.

          • Umm. OK.

          • Heb Ienek

            There are actually several studies that conclude the penguins are alright. I picked the Australian because it’s a government source. Most commenters here trust government so the source wouldn’t become the issue.

            The ice station report wasn’t backed by anything I found. It could be what they actually said was handled roughly by CBS reporters, but the fact is that the finished story is debunked from sources far and wide.

  • Heb Ienek

    “Part of it is just the geography and geometry. With no northern barrier
    around the whole perimeter of the ice, the ice can easily expand if
    conditions are favorable,”

    “Researchers are investigating a number of other possible explanations as well.”

    “One-third of current colonies may be in decline by 2060, 60 percent by 2099″ (CBS: 85% are gone already)

    This NOAA report is chock full of maybe. I do give them credit for hedging their bets; CBS is promoting straight up fake news.

  • Heb Ienek

    Maybe. But here’s a sample of the tower of babble the truth is faced with.

    In 1997, CNN screamed:
    Antarctic krill populations decreasing
    “Some fear havoc in food chain”

    “There has been almost a 90 percent decrease in krill abundance since 1980,” said Valerie Loeb of the Moss Landing Marine Laboratory.”

    Meanwhile, the “Polar Scientists” at the SF exploritorium tell us:
    “But the sea ice is shrinking in both winter and summer.”

    Well, that is straight up wrong. The ice cover has been growing to record size in winter.

    “This is especially pronounced in the Southern Ocean adjacent to the western Antarctica Peninsula, where there’s been a considerable increase in atmospheric and sea surface temperature. The krill population in this region has decreased by about 80% since the mid-1970s, according to several experts.

    Ah, the experts.

    But a current NOAA report says:

    “Antarctic krill are considered the greatest under-tapped biological resource in the ocean today. As humans increasingly turn to the oceans for food, we must be careful to not undermine the marine food chain. Ecosystem-based fishery management can help.”

    How can we do that when 80% are already gone?

    Here’s a clue. First of all, 80% are not gone, but each year, 50% do get wiped out:

    “Scientists estimate that there are 170 to 300 million tons of krill in the Southern Ocean—that’s more than half the biomass of all humanity. Of that, about half is consumed by marine predators each year.”

    Krill reproduce in massive clouds; and they are continuing to reproduce. It may be temperature fluctuations are impacting them; we don’t know, but according to the NOAA, there’s enough to harvest some for our use if we manage them.

    See, that’s the problem with politically motivated pseudo-science. You can find an “expert” to tell you just what you want to hear, whatever it is. We’re going to have to wait until the scammers lose interest and genuine scientists take over to find the truth…no telling when that might be.

  • Jack Ungerleider

    The statement I have a problem with is “…most people won’t know what a penguin is.”

    See link:

    According to the Discovery Kids site linked above there are 17 (or 19) species of penguin. Only 2 live in Antarctica. So even if the Adelie go extinct people will still know of penguins.

    As far as the retreat of the see ice, for the “skeptics” in the crowd. The wonder of satellite imagery will show what the researchers are talking about. Here is an article from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on the record retreat of the sea ice and problems it might cause. (BTW the record extent of sea ice in Antarctica was in 2014 so this is currently a highly variable situation.)

  • Heb Ienek

    Thank you. That is an interesting report.

    It thoughtfully, and without ludicrous postulations or hyperbole, reports findings and acknowledges that while temperature fluctuation may negatively impact the birds in one area, those same fluctuations will probably help them in others; they’ll move around and be fine.

    Based on this relationship, we project that one-third of current Adélie penguin colonies, representing ~20% of their current population, may be in decline by 2060. However, climate model projections suggest refugia may exist in continental Antarctica beyond 2099, buffering species-wide declines. Climate change impacts on penguins in the Antarctic will likely be highly site specific based on regional climate trends, and a southward contraction in the range of Adélie penguins is likely over the next century.

    Also, of interest:
    Climate has influenced the distribution patterns of penguins for millions of years.

    And to your earlier observations regarding krill:
    However, recent studies show no long-term (1993–2013) change in WAP krill biomass and current krill biomass should support Adélie penguin breeding colonies.

    I conclude, from the reading, that our climate will continue to fluctuate, and those fluctuations will continue to effect flora and fauna, as it has for millions of years.

    As to your assurances regarding the non-political motivations of this, and other scientific issues, we will have to agree to disagree. But this was a worthwhile read.

  • Heb Ienek


  • LifebloodMN

    I’m hoping there was some jest to this post. The Adelie penguins are doing fine overall with their breeding population estimated around 3.9 million individuals. The Adelie Penguins don’t necessarily need sea ice but they do need food, an estimated 468 thousand pounds of fish and krill per season to maintain their population- which could be directly impacted by commercial fishing pressure.