Saturday, February 15, 2014

What seems a odd little "human interest" story has some odd repercussions

Turns out penguins hate rain.  A lot.  So much that at the London Zoo (sanctuary) they are being fed a diet of raw fish and anti-depressants.
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Now I am the first to go "ahwww....", but I realize I am the penguin lover here.  But bear with me.  If you dig a little deeper into penguin findings, what you find isn't so funny.
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Not about these particular depressed penguins, but why they are depressed.  It's not just that they want the damn rain JUST TO STOP (like my other friends in London-ish).  It is penguins are not evolutionarily built for rain.  (If you don't believe in evolution, then God didn't build them for rain).  And rain is increasing and snow decreasing the penguin world.  This story talks of Magellan Penguins dying at a highly increased rate because their worlds are getting warmer.  Warmer with rain and not snow.
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So Magellan Penguin chicks aren't surviving.  Their little penguin bodies are designed to keep out the cold and snow, but not designed for navigating rocks in the pouring rain.
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Many penguin populations in Antarctica (Emperors and Adelies) are also plummeting directly due to Global Warming.  Emperors because the sea ice where they raise their chicks is melting as the seas warm up.  When the ice melts too fast, the chicks - without weatherproof feathers yet, get washed off the ice and drown.
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Adelies because they need access to the Antarctic "Desert" Shores where it is too cold to snow.  They use rocks and peebles to built their nests.  Well as it warms up, those "desert beaches" are now warm enough to snow.  So their breeding grounds are being wiped out.
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Now... who cares really?
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Well, you don't have to care, but it should concern you.  It's not that penguins are critical to the ecosystem.  BUT, this is an entirely unexpected side effect of Climate Change, right?  It is the canary in the coal mine analogy.  (If you are too young to know, miners took canaries into coal mines because they need more oxygen that humans.  If they died, then the oxygen was running low and the miners had to exit post-haste.)
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Sure dead penguins are a fact of life.  But penguins deaths due to weather is unusual and unexpected.  What if the next unusual and unexpected death due to climate change is, say, cows?  That would effect a lot of us.
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As Donald Rumsfeld once said, "We can account for the knows, and we can account for the know unknowns, but we can't account for the unknown unknowns."  This towering testament to mankind's inability to expect everything could prove more fateful than he thought.

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