This picture is my own choice – it is not related to the UK Mirror story
You have to wonder how the press allows stories like these to get published without some basic fact checking. I’m reminded of the recent CBS News story about “resonance” and global warming causing more earthquakes.
From the UK Sunday Mirror: Plight of the p-p-p penguins
By Richard Cooper 20/07/2008
This shivering penguin is just one of thousands close to death in Antarctica. Rain storms have killed tens of thousands of chicks – and scientists blame global warming. New-born penguins take 40 days to grow water-proof feathers. They can withstand snow, but if rain soaks them to the skin, they die of cold. Experts yesterday said 400 Adelie penguin chicks have washed up dead on Brazil’s beaches after migrating 2,500 miles to avoid the rain. The Emperor penguin – star of the hit film March Of The Penguins – is also under threat. Antarctic temperatures have risen by 3C in the last 50 years to an average of – 14.7C (5.5F). The penguin population has fallen by up to 80 per cent and, if the downpours go on, they will be extinct within 10 years. Dozens of migrant penguins are being treated at Rio de Janeiro’s Niterio Zoo. Biologist Erli Costa said: “This is all due to global warming.”
That’s the entire story, no other sources are given. But I did find the source Associated Press story here.
Interestingly, the AP story has no mention of “rain” or of “baby chick penguins”. There were mentions of other causes such as food supply and pollution as possible causes. It seems Mr. Cooper of the Sunday Mirror has the only mention of “rain” and “chicks” and “80 percent population decrease”. I think this story from the Falkland Islands may be his source for that number though.
Ok let’s do some fact checking to see if there is really anything going on in Antarctica causing an “80 percent population decrease”.
First lets look for a collaborating research story, how about the best organization on Birds, the National Audubon Society? Surely they’ll have this story. But a check of their web page at: http://www.audubon.org/ shows no mention of this.
Ok maybe Greenpeace? Nope, nothing there. British Antaractic survey? http://www.antarctica.ac.uk/ Nope though they have a nice picture of a penguins but no mention of the crisis.
At the very least, let’s check the temperature in Antarctica, It’s winter there. Here’s the temp map as of publication of this blog posting:
Click for larger image – Temperatures in degrees Centigrade.
Source: University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Antarctic Weather Stations Project
Hmmm. Warmest temperature is -6° C, it is rather difficult to get rain under that sort of temperature. Unfortunately I did not find an easy to decipher archive of temperatures for the last few days, but again given it is winter there, the prospect of above freezing air temperatures seems unlikely.
And then there is this statement from the story: “Experts yesterday said 400 Adelie penguin chicks have washed up dead on Brazil’s beaches after migrating 2,500 miles to avoid the rain.”
But here is the clincher from the AP story:
Costa said the vast majority of penguins turning up are baby birds that have just left the nest and are unable to out-swim the strong ocean currents they encounter while searching for food.
Mr. Cooper, your story is all wet. The Mirror should issue a retraction.