Streetwise Professor

October 17, 2017

Dead Penguins Don’t Matter If They Don’t Advance a Political Point

Filed under: Climate Change,Politics — The Professor @ 7:25 pm

What, you didn’t hear/read the story about the “massive breeding failure” among Adélie penguins, in which only two–yes two–offspring of 18,000 breeding pairs survived? Well, there’s a reason for that.

You can guarantee that you would have heard about it 24/7 had it been even remotely plausible to pin this catastrophe on anthropogenic global warming. Algore, every A through Z list celebrity (looking for an opportunity to distract from Harvey Weinstein’s shrubbery), every politician from Australia to Zimbabwe would have been on about it incessantly, at high volume, and in the highest dudgeon.

But the die-off was due to–wait for it–excessive sea ice which greatly increased the distance that the adults had to go to get food. So because they died for the wrong reason–and indeed, died for a highly inconvenient reason (or would that be truth?)–the story made barely a ripple. Move along, nothing to see.

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  1. It’s stunning to see how micromanaged nature is these days. Any setback is always “unprecedented.” If I understand correctly, these penguins have survived for a million years or more. It seems they’ve had a few setbacks before.

    And btw, polar bear populations are increasing thanks to… well, nobody.

    Comment by Howard Roark — October 18, 2017 @ 7:05 am

  2. It’s not like more southern sea ice isn’t related to global warming, just in a round about manner related to ocean circulation patterns and salinity. The southern ocean is still warming.

    “The Southern Ocean consists of a layer of cold water near the surface and a layer of warmer water below. Water from the warmer layer rises up to the surface, melting sea ice. However, as air temperatures warm, the amount of rain and snowfall also increases. This freshens the surface waters, leading to a surface layer less dense than the saltier, warmer water below. The layers become more stratified and mix less. Less heat is transported upwards from the deeper, warmer layer. Hence less sea ice is melted (Zhang 2007).”

    But yeah, changing inversion layers are an obscure phenomena for the public.

    Comment by Stefan Krieger — October 18, 2017 @ 7:24 am

  3. Yes of course. South is the opposite of North and so if ice is decreasing in the North due to Global Warming then clearly ice must be increasing in the South due to Global Warming. The exception is when bergs calve and are certainly predictive of loss of the entire damn Antarctic ice sheet due again to Global Warming. Strange that the geologic record indicates more Antarctic ice during glacial periods and less during inter-glacials. The only thing worse than the predictive value of climate models is their hindcast match to geologic data.

    Glad to hear about the penguins because I have no use for them and detest Happy Feet. Just another type of bird that failed at flying.

    Comment by pahoben — October 26, 2017 @ 6:47 pm

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