Emperor Penguins are being wiped out by climate change!
What is climate change and why is it bad?
Humans have been contributing to the emission of fossil fuels, carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere since the mid-1800s. The main contributor to climate change is fossil fuels like coal, oil, and gas. They account for over "75 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions" and close to "90 per cent of all carbon dioxide emissions". The sustained release of gases in significant amounts worldwide has resulted in long-term negative climate changes and led global temperatures to rise. When greenhouse gases are emitted into the Earth's atmosphere, they trap the sun's warmth by allowing sunlight to reach the surface but storing the heat that reflects back up.
Global warming can and has already resulted in severe droughts, heat waves, storms, rising sea levels, melting ice caps, and warmer oceans which have the ability to destroy entire ocean ecosystems. These changes can affect food supply and human health, limit worker productivity, and lead to the extinction of lifeforms.
The emperor penguin
The Emperor penguin is the biggest extant penguin species, towering around 115cm tall and having the deepest and longest dive of any bird. Native to Antarctica, they can survive in temperatures as low as -50°C because of their layers of feathers, strong fat reserves, and tiny beaks and flippers that limit heat loss.
How climate change endangers the emperor penguin
Penguins, specifically Emperor penguins found in the Antarctic, rely on sea ice to protect them from predators in the water, build their breeding colonies, and forage for food. The continuous emission of greenhouse gases and carbon dioxide into the atmosphere elevates global temperatures, threatening already melting sea ice. If the sea ice melts too quickly, the emperor family will be unable to finalise its reproductive cycle.
The Weddell Sea's second-largest emperor penguin colony is already suffering from rising temperatures, with all of its chicks succumbing in the previous three years. When the ice melts before chicks are able to swim and have waterproof plumage, they perish from the cold or drown. In recent research, Stephanie Jenouvrier of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute claims, "Ninety-eight percent of [the emperor penguin colony] will have disappeared by the end of this century".
Life without the emperor penguin
The loss of the Emperor penguin could have far-reaching effects on food chains across Antarctica, as there would be fewer species and links. They are an essential element of the food chain since they consume squid and tiny fish. They are also a vital source of food for predators such as leopard seals and huge sharks.
How you can help
We already have the solutions and resources to fight climate change. We just need to take the necessary steps and change.
Below are 10 ways to make a difference.
- Make sure you're putting the right materials in your recycling container -paper,
cardboard, metal cans, plastic bottles, and jugs.
- Never put recyclables in containers or bags
- Make sure recyclables are empty clean and dry
2. Reuse & re-repurpose
- Reuse plastic or non-plastic bags when shopping
- Invest in a reusable water bottle
3. Walk, bike, or use public transport
Walking instead of driving short distances and riding your bike or using public transport is a great and easy way to reduce your carbon footprint and save the environment.
4. Cut down on water usage
You can save water by:
- Waiting until the dishwasher is full before using
- Use a bowl in the sink when washing fruit and veg
- Turning off the water while brushing your teeth
5. Reduce food waste
- Plan your meals
- Dont buy or make more than you need
- Use leftovers
- Always check use-by dates before buying
6. Preserve energy
You can preserve energy by:
- Turning off lights
- Unplugging electronics
7. Install solar panels
Switching to a renewable power source reduces greenhouse gas emissions and improves air quality
8. Switch to an electric vehicle
Electric vehicles are cheaper to operate and reduce the amount of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere. They are also more efficient than combust motor engines.
9. Buy second-hand products
Buying second-hand has a significantly positive social and environmental impact. It cuts carbon emissions and conserves resources such as water and electricity. It also keeps old products out of landfills and incinerators.
10. Collect rain
- Rainwater collection is one of the simplest and most efficient techniques to minimise water use.
- Rainwater collection can be utilised for drinking, bathing, and cooking