Our work is focused on analyzing climate change and its impact on Antarctic Peninsula penguins, in a region where it's warmed 2 degrees C. / 5 degrees F. over the past 60+ years. Two species (Adélies, chinstraps) are 'losers' because their numbers are significantly declining, one species (gentoo) is a 'winner' because it's numbers are significantly increasing. Gentoos are clearly adapting well.
Ten years ago, Al Gore warned us about a 3 degrees C. rise in 'our own backyards'. Right now, our increase is just over 2 degrees C. Thus, will we humans be ‘winners’ or ‘losers’ as we begin facing the same warming as the Antarctic Peninsula? The connection is that as penguins are struggling to survive our research demonstrates a foreshadowing of how climate change will impact the rest of our planet.
We humans have succeeded in evolution's lottery: We've made it, we're here, and it's great to be alive. Then again, as the renowned ecologist and writer Stephen Jay Gould repeatedly reminded us, we’re also lucky because, if that extraterrestrial object hadn’t crashed to Earth 65 million years ago, dinosaurs wouldn’t be extinct and mammals would still be “small creatures, confined to nooks and crannies” and “incapable of evolving the larger size that brains big enough for self-consciousness require.”
Our lottery winnings, however, are tied to the very thorny news that things change, sometimes rapidly and terribly, and that survival is far from certain. Will the penguins, will we, continue being blessed with "The Four Vitals" necessary for our continued existence — food to eat, sufficient homes or breeding territory, progeny passing genes to the next generation, and a climate that is conducive to make these things all happen??
We hope that the articles, facts, and information we’ve set forth help you discuss this issue and ‘spread the word’ how our fate is inextricably tied to the fate of other organisms on the planet. Regarding climate change:
- It’s real.
- It’s us.
- Experts agree.
- It’s bad.
- There’s hope.