Another overhyped global warming claim bites the dust

Longtime readers of WUWT may remember this story from 2008:

Nutty Story of the Day: “Global Warming” is Killing the Penguins in Antarctica

The root of this goes back as far as 2006, such as this MSNBC story:

click image for the story at MSNBC.com

Now it appears that assertion of a link between global warming and penguin deaths is dying  faster than the penguins themselves. In what appears to be a manifestation of the observer effect problem in science (the act of observing changes the outcome) we have this article from the science journal Nature that says the act of tagging penguins so they can be tracked by researchers, seems to have a significant side effect on their life expectancy (mortality) and ability to reproduce. The article goes on to question a climate connection.

The cover page headline in Nature:

Flipper-banding reduces penguins fitness and skews climate data

Here’s a news story:

PARIS (AFP) – Tagging penguins with flipper bands harms their chances of survival and breeding, a finding which raises doubts over studies that use these birds as telltales for climate change, biologists said on Wednesday.

The metal bands, looped tightly around the top of the flipper where it meets the body, have long been used as a low-cost visual aid by researchers to identify individual penguins when they waddle ashore.

Foot tags are not used because of the penguin’s anatomical shape.

But, says the new study, the seemingly harmless bands affect the penguin’s swimming performance, causing it to waste more energy in foraging for food, sometimes with life-threatening consequences.

Publishing in the journal Nature, French and Norwegian scientists reported that they took 100 king penguins (Aptenodytes patagonicus), selected at random on Possession Island on the Crozet archipelago, a sub-Antarctic group in the southern Indian ocean.

All were tagged with a minute, electronic transponder that was implanted under the skin, which can only be read by using specialist equipment placed close to the bird. Fifty of the 100 birds were additionally given a flipper band.

The team then recorded sightings of the group over the next 10 years.

Banded birds were 16 percent likelier to die than non-banded counterparts, and had 39 percent fewer chicks, they report.

“The picture is unambiguous,” researcher Yvon Le Maho told AFP. “Among banded penguins, the least-fit individuals died out in the first five years of the study, which left super-athletic birds.

“In the remaining five years, the mortality rate between the two groups was the same, but the reproductive success of banded penguins was 39 percent lower on average.”

Le Maho said he had warned many years ago against banding penguins on ethical grounds but was sidelined. Opponents argued that the birds were not affected by the practice or got used to the tag after a year or so.

The latest findings, though, are unequivocal, he said.

Entire story here

Here’s a video from Nature on the issue:

You can add “Penguins killed by AGW” to the trashbin along with the now disproven Frogs being killed by AGW hype.

Oh and let’s not forget the fact that the whole of the continent of Antarctica has been shown not to have any statistically significant warming (except in the peninsula, which may be affected by weather station issues, since most Antarctic weather stations are near a warm pocket of humanity, i.e. researchers) by our skeptical scientist friends Jeff Condon and Ryan O’Donnell.

Condon and O"Donnell's Antarctic temperature profile, 2010

http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2009/01/antarctic_warming_2009.png

Real Climate's Dr. Eric Steig's version, 2009 - from the cover of Nature

http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2010/12/cover_nature.jpg

Yeah, it’s all about the warming in Antarctica, it couldn’t possibly be anything else.

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109 thoughts on “Another overhyped global warming claim bites the dust

  1. Also, Disney herded the lemmings off the cliff to demonstrate that lemmings commit suicide.
    …but of course, everyone loves Disney, they could never harm animals.

  2. This reminds me of the nature show where the camera crew followed the young bear until it starved to death… how successful do you think he could be with their zippy little camera’s swirling around him and a group of noisy smelly humans around. Sometimes I think scientists do more harm then good and don’t even realize it. I could mention drowning bears .. but I think my point is made. Humans in general apparently aren’t smart enough yet to understand the law of unintended consequences.

  3. “Yeah, it’s all about the warming in Antarctica, it couldn’t possibly be anything else.”
    Anthony, it just can’t be that you’re bitter about the years of careless, ideologically driven conclusion-mongering pap passed off as science by leading journals and organizations … can it?

  4. But all penguins die either of cold or starvation (which is apparently why they freeze to death) or getting eaten or being in an accident or, lastly, old age.
    The only way for penguins to die extra from global warming, since they, apparently, eat as close to home as, we all and, they can, is if global warming leads to even colder weather and climate.
    Funny how the penguins, apparently, thrive come summer, even around the fringes of South Africa in the years when it is extra warm around the fringes of South Africa.

  5. WHY ENVIRONMENTAL FORTUNE-TELLING IS ACCEPTED
    a.n.ditchfield
    A recurrent thought of Nigel Lawson is that much of the current malaise in the West is due to the erosion of traditional religion and education. The West has lost its bearings. In this he echoes G.K. Chesterton: “The first effect of not believing in God is to believe in anything”. The epigram expresses what anthropologists have long known: that religiosity seems to be hardwired into the human brain; if suppressed in one form it returns in another.
    Before the French Revolution all of Europe was referred to as Christendom and since then, secularisation has advanced by the hand of governments with agendas. In France, the Catholic clergy was disbanded, church property was confiscated and forked out to politicians in power while a state sponsored Humanist creed promptly enthroned a supporting Goddess Reason at Nôtre Dame cathedral in Paris. Bismarck sought to bolster the power of the Prussian state by instituting political control over religious activities, the Kulturkampf. Similar action was taken in Italy, Spain and Portugal at various times, often aimed against religious educational institutions, so as to ensure the indoctrination the young at secular schools. The Soviet Union went the whole hog to establish atheism as the official creed and to exorcise or burn dissenters. While such state action eroded the hold of traditional religion, in more recent times Environmentalism has crept in as the religion of choice of urban dwellers, even in English-speaking countries that had seemed to hold immunity to European-style anticlericalism.
    “Chassez le naturel, il revient au galop”. The pagan-like worship of Nature has rites, such as planting a tree to atone for an air trip; believers neither fake nor dissemble the sin of consumerism, but acknowledge and confess it; the faithful make weekly trips to the countryside to enter into communion with Nature; their children attend Sunday school to hear Inconvenient Truths, the sayings of the high priest Al Gore. The congregation dutifully joins processions to sing hymns for green causes, of all things nice and beautiful for creatures great and small. It observes a calendar with red-letter days, such as Earth Day; perhaps green-letter days would be more to the point. There is a hagiography of saints, the followers of the righteous path of Rachel Carson, and a rogue’s gallery of demons, the big bad oil companies and the dirty coalminers that tempt mankind with the unclean combustion that lights the fires of Hades. Railroads that carry coal are merchants of death. The holy waters of the Gulf of Mexico were profaned by an oil spill. Religious orders such as Green Peace and Friends of Earth propagate the true faith. The green religion even sells indulgences, in the form of Carbon Credits for those who cannot stop sinning.
    These beliefs could be as harmless as a football match, were it not for consequences on a practical plane when they inspire misguided policies designed to de-industrialise the West and block the ascent of hundreds of millions in India and China to the amenities of an adequate diet, clean drinking water, electricity, and basic education and health care. The undoing of two centuries of achievements of the Industrial Revolution is on the march, a retreat back to poverty and want.
    Worse may come for democratic rule of law. Horrible penalties are publicly demanded for heretics who deny the reality of Anthropogenic Global Warming or question, on rational grounds, the Articles of Faith that underpin the warning message that the end of the world is nigh:
    · We are running out of space. The world population is already excessive for a limited planet, and grows at exponential rates, with dire effects.
    · We are running out of means. The planet’s non-renewable resources are being depleted by runaway consumption; further expansion of the world economy is unsustainable.
    · We are running against time , as tipping points of irreversible climate processes are reached. Carbon dioxide emitted by the economic activity causes global warming. It will soon bring catastrophic climate disruption that will render the planet uninhabitable.
    When such issues are quantified, the contrast between true and false becomes clear. Acts of faith have no place when dealing with measurable physical issues.
    Is overcrowding a serious problem? It may seem so to the dweller of a congested metropolitan city. This is local discomfort, but not something that can be generalised for the planet. The sum of U.S. urban areas amounts to 2% of the area of the country, and 6% in densely populated countries like England or Holland. And there is plenty of green in urban areas. If the comparison is restricted to the ground covered by buildings and pavements, the occupied area amounts to 0.04% of Earth’s terrestrial area. It was estimated that 6 billion people could live comfortably on100 000 square miles, the area of Wyoming, or 0.2% of the total. With about 99.8% of free space available the idea that the planet is overpopulated is an exaggeration. Demographic forecasts are uncertain, but the most accepted ones, of the UN, foresee the stability of the global population, to be reached in the 21st century. According to some, world population will start to decline at the end of this century and an aging population emerges as a matter of concern. With so much available space is untenable that the world population is excessive or has the possibility of ever becoming so.
    It is argued that, ultimately, a limited planet cannot allow unlimited growth. It can also be counter-argued that, ultimately, non-renewable natural resources do not exist, in a universe governed by the Law of Conservation of Mass, which in popular form states that “nothing is created, nothing is lost, everything changes.” Not a gram of human usage was ever subtracted from the mass of the planet and, in theory, all material used can be recycled. The feasibility of doing so depends on the availability and low cost of energy. When fusion energy becomes operational it will be available in virtually unlimited quantities. The source is deuterium, an isotope of hydrogen found in water in a proportion of 0.03%. A cubic kilometre of seawater contains more potential energy than would be obtained from combustion of all known oil reserves in the world. Since the oceans contain 3 billion cubic kilometres of water is safe to assume that energy will last longer than the human species. Potable water need not be a limitation, as is sometimes said; an innovation like nano-tube membranes holds the promise of reducing energy costs for desalination to a tenth of current costs, which would make feasible the use of desalinated water for irrigation along the coast of all continents (750,000 km). What grounds are there to assume such technologies never will come to fruition?
    There is no growing shortage of resources signalled by rising prices. Since the mid-19th century a London periodical, The Economist, has kept consistent records of commodity values; in real terms, they dropped over a century and a half, due to technological advances, to the cheapening of energy and to its more efficient use. The decline was benign. The cost of feeding a human being was eight times higher in 1850 than it is today. Even in 1950, less than half the world population of 2 billion had a proper diet of more than 2000 calories per day; today 80% and have it and the world’s population is three times greater.
    There is no historical precedent to support the idea that human ingenuity is exhausted and that technology will henceforth stagnate at current levels. Two centuries ago, this idea led to the pessimistic Malthus prediction of the exhaustion of land to feed a population that seemed to grow at exponential rates.
    There is a problem with the alleged global warming. It stopped in 1998 after rising the previous 23 years, sparking the current alarm about global warming by human hand. Since 1998, warming has been followed by 12 years of stable or declining temperatures, a sign of a cold 21st century. This shows that there are natural forces modifying climate, more powerful than carbon dioxide generated by burning fossil fuels. Natural forces include cyclic fluctuation of ocean temperatures, sunspot activity and the effect on cosmic rays of the sun’s magnetic activity. All these cycles are known, but mankind can do nothing for or against forces of this magnitude. Measures to adapt to changes make sense; not the de-industrialization of a world where a quarter of mankind still has no electricity.
    Caution in public policy must be exerted because climate change predictions are subject to great uncertainty. The existing knowledge about climate comes from numerous fields such as meteorology, oceanography, mathematics, physics, chemistry, astronomy, geology, paleontology, biology, etc., with partial contributions to the understanding of climate. There is no general theory of climate with predictive capacity and perhaps there never will be one. Chaotic phenomena, in a mathematical sense, cannot be predicted. Climate forecasts that extend to the next century carry as much substance as readings of tea leaves by fortune-tellers.
    With no basis on solid theory and empirical evidence, the mathematical models that support alarmist predictions are nothing more than speculative thought which reflect the assumptions fed into models, and chosen in the interest of sponsors. These computer simulations provide no rationale for public policies that inhibit economic activity “to save the planet.” And carbon dioxide is not toxic or a pollutant; it is a plant nutrient in the photosynthesis that sustains the food chain for all living beings on the planet.
    Stories about disasters circulate daily. Anything that happens on earth is attributed to global warming: an earthquake in the Himalayas, the volcanic eruption in Iceland, the 2004 tsunami in the Indian Ocean; tribal wars in Africa, heat wave in Paris; plague of snails on the tiny Isle of Wight; forest fires in California; sandstorms during the dry season and floods during the wet season in Australia; recent severe winters in North America; the collapse of a bridge in Minnesota; the hurricane season in the Gulf of Mexico, known for five cycles centuries. Evo Morales blames Americans for summer floods in Bolivia.
    Such reckless allegations of cause and effect indicate that global warming is not a physical phenomenon; it is a political and journalistic phenomenon, which finds a parallel in the totalitarian doctrines that once incited masses deceived by demagogues.
    As Chris Patten put it: “Green politics at its worst amounts to a sort of Zen fascism; less extreme, it denounces growth and seeks to stop the world so that we can all get off”. In the opinion of Professor Aaron Wildavsky, global warming is the mother of all environmental alarm: “Warming (and warming alone), through its primary antidote of withdrawing carbon from production and consumption, is capable of realizing the environmentalist’s dream of an egalitarian society based on rejection of economic growth in favor of a smaller population’s eating lower on the food chain, consuming a lot less, and sharing a much lower level of resources much more equally.” It is the hippie’s dream of a life of idleness, penury, long hair, unshaven face, blue jeans, sandals and a vegetarian diet; a lifestyle to be foisted upon the world by dictatorial decree of a supra-national eco-fascist dictatorship and justified by the fantasy of a limit to lebensraum on a finite planet.
    Anyone who doubts this as hyperbole should read what James Hansen himself has to say at:
    http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/mailings/2010/20101122_ChinaOpEd.pdf

  6. “the least-fit individuals died out in the first five years of the study”
    “Opponents argued that the birds were not affected by the practice or got used to the tag after a year or so.”
    ===========================================================
    obviously
    At least they didn’t say Arctic………………..

  7. Along with the observer effect, this also illustrates the elite’s refusal to acknowledge the difference between living and dead, and even the elite failure to distinguish male and female. If you understand penguins as living creatures with intention and desire, and you understand the requirements of male and female, you’ll recognize that a visible imperfection will interfere with suitability for mating. If you start from the egalitarian/feminist myth that all things can be treated as indistinguishable passive elementary particles, you’ll miss this recognition.
    Here, as in the crime against nature known as the Endangered Species Act, our elites claim to be Darwinists but actually violate Darwin at every step.

  8. Banding kills penguins or a 50 part per million increase in carbon dioxide kills penguins? Smart money is on the carbon dioxide….duh!

  9. The word “unequivocal” seems to pop up everywhere. Together with “robust” and “unprecedented”.
    Interesting article.

  10. It is nice to see that some scientists can figure out the obvious. Anyone that ever saw a penguin swim underwater would release that they are exceptionally hydrodynamic and the tag is going to have a serious negative effect not to mention the fact that it probably makes it look less fit to other penguins. Too bad other scientists don’t seem capable of getting the obvious fact that in order for there to be an effect to study, there has to a reasonable cause that can explain it. Significant warming can’t be the cause they are desperately trying to prove if it doesn’t exist in the first place.

  11. It’s worse than the report. From the Knight Science Journalism Tracker and Seth Borenstein …

    However…ahem. The paper and Nature’s summary for reporters both say that flipper-banded penguins had a 16 percent lower ten-year survival rate. By contrast, the accompanying data results table says that chances of surviving for ten years fell from 0.36 to 0.20. Well, subtract those two and one does get 0.16 or 16 points difference, but as our alert AP man saw, what’s important is not that the rate fell 16 points but that 0.20 is about a 44 percent drop from 0.36
    http://ksjtracker.mit.edu/2011/01/13/lots-of-inumerate-ink-penguins-suffer-when-tagged-do-the-math-most-journos-didnt/

  12. It’s unequivocal . Not disputing the story , just noting that the word has been seen a lot today . How many buzz words do these guys use ?

  13. “Scientists” seem to kill more of nature’s animals by banding,tagging, capturing, hugging, and all other forms of so called studies. Follow the money just like the whole AGW thingy. I am ashamed of all of them.

  14. Is this the beginning of Nature actually publishing real science again?
    Once again here is proof that scientists who may be expert in their field, in this case penguin research, lack common sense in their use of flipper tags.
    I’ve always wondered whether tags of any kind affect wildlife, but assumed that the scientists had checked that out. Now they have.

  15. The study was started in 1998 and five years later they knew they had a problem – that means the S.H. summer of 2003. This is currently the seventh summer since then – if I’ve got the arithmetic correct. So, how many penguins have been tagged?

  16. Duh! Researchers depend on funding and to get funding they need to find out important things. The whole idea of handicapping animals with metal banding is so so that the animals do indeed die out quickly and catastrophically.
    Duh! How else do you think you get more research funds for the next antarctic boondoggle?
    That’s the secret.
    If the researchers found that Penguins were doing just fine then their research grants would be much more difficult to justify.

  17. Hey, doesn’t everyone realize that the Bling these scientists were giving to these poor creatures would help with their mating chances? Remember Lovelace from Happy Feet? He had those cool rings around his neck, he had the chicks digging him! These poor fellas can’t help it if the female penguins didn’t realize what a fine addition these cool armbands were. I wanna go out and get one myself…
    /Sarcasm off

  18. OT, but look at the advert top right of article – Build wealth through investing in real estate. Based on the assumption that, of course, real estate never falls in value. Another article of faith, just like CAGW, that has been blown out of the water in the past few years.

  19. “Le Maho said he had warned many years ago against banding penguins on ethical grounds but was sidelined.”
    I am sure his results are correct but in science (and climate science especially) I hate to see someone promoting a point of view on ethical grounds – then confirming it with his own research and data (observations unverifiable over a long period of time). Hopefully his research will be confirmed by others in a few years.

  20. Next you’ll be telling us that air-conditioners and power generators for the Antartic scientists dwellings have skewed temperature data….oh you have already….

  21. The parallels to researchers spreading the chytrid fungus yet not taking better precautions is a sad tale. But I think in general most researchers try to be aware when they are having an adverse effect.
    I am bothered more by the fact that while the ice loving Penguins were declining on the peninsula, where the warm waters of the polar front come closest to the Antarctic continent, The colonies of ice loving Penguins have tripled in the Ross Sea.
    This paradox growing populations was mentioned in a recent article in Science on the state of our oceans, but simply dismissed, claiming that “our models say it will warm there soon”. So they then went on to hype only the declining populations.

  22. Reminds me of the story I heard back in the mid 70s about an environmental contractor in the north west of Western Australia. Seems he had to do a fish count in some waterholes. Gelignite made it easy to count the bodies.

  23. Anthony,
    Thanks for picking this ‘tip’ up and running with it. Nice article!

    REPLY:
    Gosh I’m sorry, I saw it on my Google alerts feed. Often many things arrive simultaneously via different channels, my apologies if you felt I used your tip without credit, that certainly wasn’t an intent. – Anthony

  24. From http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/68666/title/Marking_penguins_for_study_may_do_harm

    In a swimming test in a tank, an Adélie penguin wearing a band expended 24 percent more energy than an unbanded penguin.

    That’s huge! I’d imagine it also implies the penguins bring back less food
    because they need some of the calories.

    Biologists are studying penguins to understand the effects of climate change on life in Antarctica, but in the new study researchers found that environmental conditions affected banded birds more severely than their unbanded counterparts. For example, during the warmer phases of the El Niño climate cycle, when the seafood that penguins eat is scarce, the banded birds showed an even greater tendency than usual to arrive late at breeding grounds.

    They usually arrive late? Perhaps “usual” isn’t El Niño.

  25. Well in keeping with Smith’s first Law of survival (out in the ocean); to whit:- “There ain’t no such thing as 75% of Top Speed !”
    Guess which Emperor Penguins the Leopard Seals will target, as catchable snacks on the hoof ?
    You wanna bet me; that Jane Goodall, and her tribe of students; have NOT impacted the lives and behavior of the Gombe Stream Chimpanzee population. I’m not being critical of her; her “discoveries” have been mind boggling; but are they Chimps in the wild, or wily quick learners.
    I can remember when we used to pop the lids off the top of Baja rock oysters, in our snorkel gear, and watch the Sergeant Majors dart in to scarf up the oyster out of its shell. Total training period for a new school of SMs; two oysters max; and then they would be gathered at the next oyster waiting for the magic screwdriver to pop the top.
    So Heisenberg was right; in the act of studying our subject, we change its behavior.

  26. It would be interesting to “band” about a million 14-year-old with with GPS and telemetry collars to see how many survive and reproduce within 15 years. Or maybe just make them wear khakis and polo shirts.

  27. Overhyped? How? Your story that you link to says that the Sunday Mirror (hardly an authoritative source) seemed to be on its own in making the claim. It mentions an AP source (link now dead) which your story suggests the Mirror had got wrong. Your post here points to an MSNBC story which says something about global warming in a caption.
    Overhyped? Is that all there is?

  28. If penguins are dying because warming, how come they to mate and breed to a much warmer place tha the Peininsula? They go to the biggest breeding and mating place in the world, Punta Tombo, in Patagonia, where they share territory with guanacos (and toursits in shorts!). Just see:
    http://www.patagonia-argentina.com/i/atlantica/puertomadryn/tombo.php
    Or:
    http://www.destination360.com/south-america/argentina/punta-tombo
    “Punta Tombo is truly a unique and pristine part of Patagonia. This five hundred acre Argentina National Park provides a nesting ground for the Magellan penguin population. Each year during the warmer days of spring over half a million penguins come to the Patagonia coasts in order to breed. One of the greatest features to the Punta Tombo is that you can actually experience the walk along side the penguins and observe their intricacies first hand. It is the perfect spot for a curious eye. Become a part of the ‘march of the penguins.’ ”
    Also: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/The-Magellanic-Penguins-of-Punta-Tombo.html

  29. I seem to remember that someone was complaining that the increased temps caused more snow and ice and made it harder for some species to reach their inland breeding grounds.

  30. “It observes a calendar with red-letter days, such as Earth Day; perhaps green-letter days would be more to the point.”
    No, Earth Day is also on Vladimir Lenin’s birthday, so red is the appropriate color; remember, Green is the new Red

  31. this is typical of AGW advocacy, as opposed to science.
    It is no better than my going to Brighton, dipping my foot in the water, and then declaring on the basis of such an experience that the Titanic didn’t sink, since it couldn’t be felt underfoot. It would then be said that it was a fable to make a good movie, but ultimately would fall to pieces when checked against the relevant facts, and my declaration would be the fable.
    AGW is indeed this sort of trap of assertion, followed by defence of it against relevant facts of the kind in question, but since it deals with a very partial and enclosed set of its own partial facts, can only defend them with rhetoric, as Trenberth does, than with the relevant calculations.
    Surprisingly, the IPCC 4th assessment report doesn’t contain the necessary and crucial calculations (which ought to be in the section on radiative forcing) to prove the c02 thesis, and should therefore only be treated as conjecture, or a hypothesis at best.

  32. It’s a real shocker The more I discover the angrier I get!
    Banding kills birds it’s supposed to tag
    Tuesday, 8 June 2004 Jennifer Viegas
    Discovery News
    http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2004/06/08/1127115.htm
    They already knew way back in 2004, wing banding of king penguins problems has been reported before:
    Discovery News – Jennifer Viegas (June 8, 2004, via ABC Australia): Banding kills birds it’s supposed to tag ;
    Over the five years of the study, unbanded penguins fared much better than the banded birds.
    They arrived earlier at the colony for courtship and breeding, produced 54 chicks versus the 28 counted for banded birds, and were more likely to survive.
    Lead author Dr Michel Gauthier-Clerc, a French biologist with the Station Biologique de la Tour du Valat in Arles, said the flipper bands prevented penguins from swimming normally.
    “The major problem is the increased energy cost for swimming that results from decreased hydrodynamic efficiency.
    The drag created by the band made banded penguins work harder in the water. The effect could be critical when penguins forage in deep water for their main prey, lantern fish, and during the winter, when the birds must travel and hunt over long distances to build up body weight before they fast for breeding at the colony.
    Over the course of the study, banded birds had delayed returns to the colony. In the final year, 36% did not make it back to the island.
    Penguins Harmed by Research Bands
    The bands that are used to tell birds apart affect the birds’ reproduction and survival, research shows.
    Thu Jan 13, 2011
    http://news.discovery.com/animals/penguins-bands-research-110113.html
    And in another worrisome development, the flipper-banded penguins averaged 12.7 days away from home on foraging trips instead of 11.6. “One day or two days is a huge difference,” says ecologist and study co-author Claire Saraux of the University of Strasbourg and France’s CNRS research network.
    Chicks back at the breeding site eat only when a parent swims home with food collected hundreds of kilometers, sometimes thousands of kilometers, away. And young chicks have to build up reserves to survive their first winter, when parental food delivery drops off to only a few times during the whole season.
    Slower foraging fits with worries that flipper bands may be increasing drag on penguins during swimming, Saraux says. In a swimming test in a tank, an Adélie penguin wearing a band expended 24 percent more energy than an unbanded penguin.
    “From an ethical point of view, I think we can’t continue to band,” Saraux says

  33. alan neil ditchfield says:
    January 13, 2011 at 2:54 pm
    WHY ENVIRONMENTAL FORTUNE-TELLING IS ACCEPTED
    a.n.ditchfield
    Excellent post! It deserves wide dissemination. Thank you.

  34. I can’t help but wonder if the Japanese “Research” ships in the antarctic aren’t reducing the number of whales with their research efforts….
    Spectacular opportunity for the headline “Scientists link global warming to low numbers of whales”…..What? You mean we killed all the whales to study them?
    …Too bad, they were so tasty.

  35. Possible subtitle: When Wildlife Biologists Are Toxic To The Animals They Study
    A common phenomenon. In Hawaii the USGS-BRD wye-byes “study” endangered birds (palila, Loxioides bailleui) by climbing ladders to nests and removing the chicks to weigh and measure them. Then they put the chicks back in the nests. Interestingly, 100% of the chicks thusly man-handled (and/or woman-handled) die within a few hours. Must be global warming, eh?
    btw, the above is absolutely true. I know unimpeachable witnesses who were shocked and flabbergasted, but the “researchers” were oblivious. I can cite dozens of other cases where gummit wye-byes are extirpating the populations they “study”.

  36. It’s nice to know that Global Warming isn’t killing off the penguins, but what do we do about scientists killing off penguins? Can we be sure there aren’t some fanatics among them willing to harm penguins on purpose just so they can blame it on Global Warming?

  37. Connecting CO2 with global warming, climate change, climate disruption, or whatever, is like searching for a needle in a haystack. It is virtually impossible to to find the needle in the haystack yet, they insist on spending billions of dollars and expending valuable resources looking for it, just so they can pin it on man, and make him pay dearly for it. Even if they found a connection, they probably would not like what they find in that, the connection would probably be of such insignificant consequence as to be considered lunacy when trying to justify such a large expenditure.

  38. (Grammar edit)
    Connecting CO2 with global warming, climate change, climate disruption, or whatever, is like searching for a needle in a haystack. It is virtually impossible to find the needle in the haystack yet, they insist on spending billions of dollars and expending valuable resources looking for it, just so they can pin it on man, and make him pay dearly for it. Even if they found a connection, they probably would not like what they find in that, the connection would be of such insignificant consequence as to be considered lunacy, when trying to justify such a large expenditure.

  39. Crikey, even as pimply youths we knew the dangers of mating with females wearing a band donated by others. Could affect longevity.
    It must be near closing date for AR5 papers. One symptom is the rushed publication of unfinished work. That’s poor science.

  40. #
    ShrNfr says:
    January 13, 2011 at 4:00 pm
    Re the snip. Quite understand.
    #
    Mike Haseler says:
    January 13, 2011 at 4:04 pm
    [snip, funny, but will be misconstrued by the humorless]
    —————————–
    Being one of the humorless, I’m disappointed to be denied the opportunity to misconstrue.

  41. alan neil ditchfield says: Wrote
    January 13, 2011 at 2:54 pm
    “WHY ENVIRONMENTAL FORTUNE-TELLING IS ACCEPTED
    a.n.ditchfield
    A recurrent thought of Nigel Lawson is that much of the current malaise in the West is due to the erosion of traditional religion and education. The West has lost its bearings. In this he echoes G.K. Chesterton: “The first effect of not believing in God is to believe in anything”. The epigram expresses what anthropologists have long known: that religiosity seems to be hardwired into the human brain; if suppressed in one form it returns in another.”
    I believe the purpose of humans is to become as God is. Maybe that’s the hardwiring.
    One Caviot;
    Not everyone gets into the club, first you have to qualify.
    I also believe God is not a singular entity in and of itself.

  42. Thomas Brown says: Wrote
    January 13, 2011 at 3:43 pm
    “(Denialism) The cute little bears”
    Thanks. First time I seen that.
    If people who disbelieve in man-made global warming are “Deniers”,
    That would make people who believe in man-made global warming “Acceptors”.

  43. I used to be very ambivalent about tagging and collaring of wild animals for research purposes. As of today, I am fully opposed to it. And any biologist motivated to study such animals in this way in order to prove their pet theory of ‘the impact of AGW on wildlife’ must be opposed and condemned and their scientific funding cut.
    Late last year WUWT reported a polar bear research that involved such collaring without much of a word whether such observation is appropriate:
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/12/21/polar-bears-no-longer-on-thin-ice-researchers-say-polar-bears-could-face-brighter-future/
    In that thread, I posted a BBC video from youtube that showed a similarly collared snow leopard apparently having difficulty hunting. The narrator is none other than David Attenborough: “Collaring a wild snow leopard is a remarkable breakthrough for science, but it leaves [a researcher] with mixed feelings.” Don’t you say? If you have a mixed feeling about it maybe it is not really a good idea, let alone a “remarkable breakthorugh for science”. However, a breakthrough for the careers of certain unscrupulous scientists, it certainly is. Here is the same video again:

    Incidentally, for those who want to see the effects of such collaring in a fictional world, I’d strongly recommend an episode of an otherwise ordinary sci-fi television show, Star Trek: Voyager. This particular episode is called “Scientific Method”. In that episode, Voyager crew are being collared and tagged for research purposes by invisible aliens, making life very difficult for the crew. You really find yourselves in the shoes of -so to speak- penguins, and snow leopards, and polar bears, and dolphins and whales, and albatrosses. It is bad.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_Method_%28Star_Trek:_Voyager%29

  44. I’m surprised no one has considered that the banded group may be self-selecting, i.e., they were weaker, more stupid, or otherwise less fit to begin with. After all, the scientists were able to trap them and band them. The fitter penguins may have been better able to avoid the scientists or already had higher perches that the scientists didn’t bother climbing up to.

  45. Mike D. says:
    January 13, 2011 at 8:18 pm
    Possible subtitle: When Wildlife Biologists Are Toxic To The Animals They Study
    A common phenomenon. In Hawaii the USGS-BRD wye-byes “study” endangered birds (palila, Loxioides bailleui) by climbing ladders to nests and removing the chicks to weigh and measure them. Then they put the chicks back in the nests. Interestingly, 100% of the chicks thusly man-handled (and/or woman-handled) die within a few hours. Must be global warming, eh?
    btw, the above is absolutely true. I know unimpeachable witnesses who were shocked and flabbergasted, but the “researchers” were oblivious. I can cite dozens of other cases where gummit wye-byes are extirpating the populations they “study”.

    I’d certainly believe that.
    I grew up in a neighbourhood that had many pigeon hobbyists. My elder brother was one, too. One of the very first thing any kid is taught is to be extremely careful handling these birds. They are a lot more delicate for manhandling than a cat, the top predator of the pigeons.
    The second most important rule is to never handle an egg or a chick. The rationale for this was simple: parents abandon chicks that have been manhandled. Why this is the case, I don’t know.
    But I grew up thinking that perhaps indelicate handling was to blame and that the mere contact with the chick for parental abandonment was an exaggeration. And that those who know about such things, such as biologists, are better informed than the pigeon hobbyists of my childhood. It turns out I might well have been wrong to think so highly of scientists vis a vis hobbyists.

  46. “Oh and let’s not forget the fact that the whole of the continent of Antarctica has been shown not to have any statistically significant warming…”
    But the link to the original article has the authors writing:
    “Rather than finding warming concentrated in West Antarctica, we find warming over the period of 1957-2006 to be concentrated in the Peninsula (≈0.35oC decade-1). We also show average trends for the continent, East Antarctica, and West Antarctica that are half or less than that found using the unimproved method. Notably, though we find warming in West Antarctica to be smaller in magnitude, we find that statistically significant warming extends at least as far as Marie Byrd Land.”
    I suggest that Watt at least change his ambiguous statement to “Not all areas of Antarctica show significant warming.”

  47. “Garr says:
    January 13, 2011 at 10:52 pm
    I’m surprised no one has considered that the banded group may be self-selecting, i.e., they were weaker, more stupid, or otherwise less fit to begin with. After all, the scientists were able to trap them and band them. The fitter penguins may have been better able to avoid the scientists or already had higher perches that the scientists didn’t bother climbing up to.”

    Garr, that’s very funny. I guess, by that reckoning, any scientist that fell and broke an arm and a leg while chasing these birds could equally be considered “weaker, more stupid, or otherwise less fit to begin with”.
    In case people may get confused, they ought to be reminded that only half the number of penguins that were caught were tagged on the wings in the old fashioned way:
    “…French and Norwegian scientists reported that they took 100 king penguins (Aptenodytes patagonicus), selected at random on Possession Island on the Crozet archipelago, a sub-Antarctic group in the southern Indian ocean.
    All were tagged with a minute, electronic transponder that was implanted under the skin, which can only be read by using specialist equipment placed close to the bird. Fifty of the 100 birds were additionally given a flipper band.”

  48. Garr.
    In the article it explains that they caught and tagged 100 penguins but only put the flipper ring on 50 of them.
    Maybe the scientists thought it so unethical that they asked for volunteers and that’s when the stupidity stepped in 🙂

  49. “Eduardo Ferreyra says:
    January 13, 2011 at 6:21 pm
    If penguins are dying because warming, how come they to mate and breed to a much warmer place tha the Peininsula? They go to the biggest breeding and mating place in the world, Punta Tombo, in Patagonia where they share territory with guanacos (and toursits in shorts!)”
    There are about 17 species of penguins. Only one, Magellanic Penguin Spheniscus magellanicus, breeds at Punta Tombo, and this species does not breed in Antarctica. Different species have different habitat requirement. Punta Tombo is unique by the way in being the only large penguin colony on the mainland of a continent. Usually such sites are on islands where there are no mammalian predators.
    The tourists are probably not much of a problem since most penguins are utterly unafraid of humans (the Yellow-eyed Penguin Megadyptes antipodes is an exception). By the way, much of the time I would not recommend wearing shorts at Punta Tombo,

  50. “Garr says:
    January 13, 2011 at 10:52 pm
    I’m surprised no one has considered that the banded group may be self-selecting, i.e., they were weaker, more stupid, or otherwise less fit to begin with. After all, the scientists were able to trap them and band them. The fitter penguins may have been better able to avoid the scientists or already had higher perches that the scientists didn’t bother climbing up to.”
    I can see you have absolutely no experience of King Penguins. They are utterly unafraid of humans and absurdly easy to catch. You just walk up to them. Also they breed in the open on easily accessible beaches, not in burrows or difficult terrain like some smaller penguin species, i. e. no high perches.

  51. “The second most important rule is to never handle an egg or a chick. The rationale for this was simple: parents abandon chicks that have been manhandled. Why this is the case, I don’t know.”
    I have no experience specifically with pigeons, but generally speaking birds are not sensitive to handling of eggs or chicks. This can be a problem with mammals who react strongly to scent, but birds have little sense of smell. There have been large scale studies on the effect of banding of nestling birds which have shown no significant effects compared with unbanded nestlings.
    On a more anecdotal level I remember a thrush nest in my garden that blew down in a windstorm. One of the three nestligs was killed, but the other two were unhurt, so I took the remains of the nest, put it back in place (and wired it in place for security). I then put the nestlings back. The parent birds had of course been quite agitated while this was going on, but they resumed feeding the young even before I had taken away the ladder, and both subsequently fledged successfully.

  52. Mike D. says:
    January 13, 2011 at 8:18 pm
    Possible subtitle: When Wildlife Biologists Are Toxic To The Animals They Study
    A common phenomenon. In Hawaii the USGS-BRD wye-byes “study” endangered birds (palila, Loxioides bailleui) by climbing ladders to nests and removing the chicks to weigh and measure them. Then they put the chicks back in the nests. Interestingly, 100% of the chicks thusly man-handled (and/or woman-handled) die within a few hours. Must be global warming, eh?
    btw, the above is absolutely true. I know unimpeachable witnesses who were shocked and flabbergasted, but the “researchers” were oblivious. I can cite dozens of other cases where gummit wye-byes are extirpating the populations they “study”.
    ————————————————————
    Well said, Mike (and also the PP who talked about pigeon chicks).
    In Australia, we see again and again examples of so-called environmentalists who roust animals (especially small marsupials) out of their nests, weigh them, measure them and tag them, all in the name of ‘environmental science’. Quite often they come back every year and do it again. Then, when the animals have either died out thanks to their interventions, or moved away from these pesky intrusions, they proclaim that this is a sign of man made destruction, and they are right – but not in the sense they intend.
    Anyone who has knowledge of non domesticated animals knows that handling their young risks abandonment of them. I can’t understand how people who claim to be so in tune with Gaia don’t get the basics of animal behaviour, which were well understood by amateur and professional naturalists in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

  53. OK, so the banded penguins can’t swim as fast.
    What were those bands for again? Oh yes, to pick out specific penguins from the over all crowd of penguins.
    Makes you wonder what things sound like over in the Sea Lion colony:
    Grizzled Old Sea Lion: Listen up cubs, I’m gonna splain to ya the most important huntin’ skill there be. Identifying the slowest moving ones outa the bunch. Thems the ones ya want to chase for lunch.
    Young Smart Aleck Sea Lion; Get with the modern times gramps. The slow ones come with these easy to spot arm bands…

  54. Poor penguins! Leave them alone. Those ugly metal bands must get really cold out of the water as well as being a drag when they are swimming. The bands must conduct heat from the penguin’s flipper and possibly interfere with circulation.

  55. Dr. Mann produced some data a couple of years ago that proved Antarctic warming. The temperature data came from surface stations it was said. It turned out that Mann could not find most of the stations, due to snow cover, and his data set actually came from a GCM model run. How easily these people are fooled by the virtual GCM world and still fail to take any actual observations.

  56. sHx says:
    January 13, 2011 at 11:04 pm
    (…) It turns out I might well have been wrong to think so highly of scientists vis a vis hobbyists.
    – I’m inclined to agree. People who do things as a hobby are, in the most literal sense of the word, amateurs – they do what they do out of a love of their subject, and so are apt to have a surprising amount of knowledge about their little sphere of expertise.
    Whereas, as someone once said, professionals designed the Titanic.

  57. Alan Neil Ditchfield,
    Some people may have religiosity wired into their brains, some may not.
    It is true that much of the modern Western malaise may be due to the loss of traditional values, and to the rapid change in the way of life.
    It is NOT true, though, that, once we ditched old fairy tales, we must hide again under their skirts, instead of trying to adapt to reality.

  58. This story reminds me of the environmentalist who, after a bowel movement, burned her used toilet paper (for environmental reasons) and subsequently caused Israel’s worst ever fire. Greenpeace initially blamed global warming.
    Frogs: debunked. Lizards: debunked. Penguins: debunked
    Each of these is caused by concerned environmentalist researchers or poachers.
    References:
    http://www.jpost.com/GreenIsrael/PEOPLEANDTHEENVIRONMENT/Article.aspx?id=195702
    http://www.greenprophet.com/2010/12/greenpeace-israel-carmel-fire/

  59. Is it possible that the male penguins saw the band on the wing and think the females have a physical flaw and wont take them as a mate?

  60. @George E. Smith, January 13, 2011 at 5:08 pm:
    “So Heisenberg was right; in the act of studying our subject, we change its behavior.”
    Yes indeed – especially when the study subjects are animals. as your ‘oyster study’ illustrates so perfectly, animals are quick to learn, because e.g. getting food ‘for free’ or cheaply will increase their fitness (less energy spent on searching) and thus their success in reproduction.
    Any zoologist studying animals in the wild must constantly be aware of the law of unintended consequences …

  61. tty says: January 14, 2011 at 12:30 am There have been large scale studies on the effect of banding of nestling birds which have shown no significant effects compared with unbanded nestlings.
    I call bull on that. Cite your alleged sources, tty. Except you can’t because they are imaginary or else utter crap.
    As part of the procedure the USGS-BRD wye byes also band palila chicks with brightly-colored leg bands. When the mother bird returns to the disturbed nest (if she returns), she sees the foreign object and flicks it out, Of course the band is attached to the chick, and out goes the chick, too, which cannot fly and plummets to the ground.
    The researchers call such chicks “jumplings”. No sh*t. The wye byes’ twisted thinking is that the baby birds jumped out the nests on their own because, get this, once the chicks have been exposed (by the wye byes) to the great big world outside the nest they want to fly free, even though they can’t fly yet.
    The dinglebrained wye byes believe themselves to be Dr. Doolittles who can communicate with the animals. They claim to know what the baby birds are thinking.
    So with great compassion and sensitivity, they fetch the jumplings off the ground, climb the ladder, and put them back in the nest again. Back comes the mother bird (maybe), and out go the jumplings again. This is such a common, repeat occurrence that the USGS-BRD wye byes developed a “protocol” to deal with the problem. No sh*t. The protocol requires the jumpling fetcher/replacer to put their hands over the nest for five to ten minutes until the jumpling “calms down”. What really happens is the mother bird abandons the nest permanently. The protocol-treated jumplings no longer jump to freedom (they didn’t in the first place); they just starve to death (if they don’t die immediately of shock).
    100% mortality results. It has been measured although not reported. The wye byes are loathe to report the actual outcomes for fear they will be sh*t-canned post haste.
    To be fair, I observed these things 15 years ago. I cannot say that palila chick studies still go on today. Although, the very same wye byes are still employed at the very same facility at Volcano N.P., and they still publish palila studies which are still absolute garbage “science”.
    Some othe species being extirpated by toxic government wye byes include the alala (the Hawaiian crow), northern spotted owls, Mexican spotted owls, snowy plovers, marbled murrelets, and sage-grouse. Those are ESA listed or candidate species and so pull a lot of research funding, unfortunately for the poor animals as well as the poor taxpayers. Non-listed animals, when they capture the attention of wye byes, are treated even more harshly. Museums like the Smithsonian have ancillary warehouses full of dead animals in formaldehyde vats.
    I could write a book about the atrocities committed by wye byes. Maybe I will someday, even though it is a completely depressing topic.

  62. “Jeremy says:
    January 13, 2011 at 2:46 pm
    Also, Disney herded the lemmings off the cliff to demonstrate that lemmings commit suicide.
    …but of course, everyone loves Disney, they could never harm animals.”
    They pushed the lemmings off a table in the studio, with a broom.
    Now, that’s what I call science.

  63. Funny. If someone watches Discovery or Animal Planet, they’d notice that the most dangerous trip for Antarctic penguins is the walk from the ocean across the sea-ice to the rookery & back. The longer the walk (the more sea-ice), the fewer make it. The Antarctic sea-ice has been at near-record levels the last decade.
    Aha! AGW must cause more sea-ice, killing the penguins!

  64. The irony is staggering: GWers claimed that the penguins would adapt to being crippled even though they believed that changing the environments temperature by a fraction of a degree would be deadly. If you think my description of the banding is “over the top”, read the original article. Banding a penguin can cause a 24% reduction in power. Reducing power by 24% should cause about a 31.6% increase (1/0.76) in swim times for a given distance.
    Here’s why it is a valid comparison. If you take a look at the 2010 Ford Ironman World Championship results, the winner did the 2.4 mile swim in 51:36. The fastest physically challenged (amputee) time was 84:04. http://c0024956.cdn1.cloudfiles.rackspacecloud.com/2010/10/2010-Kona-Results.pdf
    Translating that into hard numbers, removing one of a world class athlete’s limbs causes a 63% increase in time. Banding a penguin can cause about half the effect of chopping off a limb.
    How are we supposed to trust any data from scientists who assume that crippling a penguin has no effect, but changing the temperature by fractions of a degree will kill it? Obviously they don’t understand the concept of control groups. I wonder what experimental conditions would be out of ethical bounds for these “researchers”???

  65. I can’t help posting this, regarding King Penguins, from Harry Hill:
    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dg0vizpfB7k&fs=1&hl=en_GB&color1=0x3a3a3a&color2=0x999999]

  66. I saw this article before. However, I have to wonder at the small sample size. Since only 50 were tagged each way, the statement that “16 times more likely” seems to be sloppy science again.
    I can see where the banding would alter the birds swimming and be detrimental, but that is about the extent of the claim they can make.

  67. Mac the Knife says:
    January 13, 2011 at 4:39 pm
    Anthony,
    Thanks for picking this ‘tip’ up and running with it. Nice article!
    REPLY: Gosh I’m sorry, I saw it on my Google alerts feed. Often many things arrive simultaneously via different channels, my apologies if you felt I used your tip without credit, that certainly wasn’t an intent. – Anthony
    Anthony,
    That wasn’t the way I intended that to sound, I guess. I’m just delighted that you provide a forum and the historical perspective necessary to create such excellent articles documenting the malfeasance et.al. of the ‘global warmers’. Like many others in the workaday world, I see bits and pieces of it, and chime in as time allows. You see the larger picture and the history behind many aspects of it. Your excellent writing provides enjoyable fact-based reading for degreed professionals and laymen alike. The knowledge, technical skills, and thoughtful submissions of the many other contributors attracted to your tolerantly managed open forum set the bench mark for all other blog bosses to emulate.
    Sincerely – Thank You!!!

  68. Always a mystery to me that while the Inuit have to beach their boats well away from their hunting grounds and the Canadian Forces are to avoid these entire areas in absolute terms but the WWF and such have no qualms nor troubles approaching in aerial conveyances that would scare the @#$% out of domesticated animals exposed from birth to a cacophony of heavy farm machinery?!?

  69. It was “Global warming” that killed them, was it? Unless they all swam off to Russia or Philadelphia in the northern summer, I suspect it could only be local warming that could affect these penguins.
    Then again, it wasn’t even that, was it? We all know how penguins enjoy the cold so much that they all huddle together to share in each others’ fun. They hate the cold, but they’re better suited to it than most other species – hence they dominate on the shores of Antarctica. If it was too hot (ha!), they’d go for a dip in the frigid waters.
    If you were to go to a nightclub wearing a tweed tank-top, your pulling style may be somewhat cramped too.

  70. I you think about it, this proves that Global Warming affects penguin survival. We even have the figures!
    See – because of Global Warming, there is copious funding for the banding of penguins and other critters to see if their survival is impacted by Global Warming. In fact, because of the banding, their survival is, indeed, impacted by Global Warming.
    QED

  71. PhilJourdan says:
    January 14, 2011 at 8:49 am
    I saw this article before. However, I have to wonder at the small sample size. Since only 50 were tagged each way, the statement that “16 times more likely” seems to be sloppy science again.
    PhilJourdan,
    Please re-read the original article. It says (and this is a direct quote):
    “Banded birds were 16 percent likelier to die than non-banded counterparts”
    16% – not 1600%

  72. The eco-whackjobs are bad for everyone including penguins. I like the way some of the people responsible for killing off half the penguins are trying to say their penguin tags are better than the other tags and not responsible for the penguin genocide.
    Will the Hague prosecute this atrocity?

  73. I picked up the 23 Dec Nature last night and there is a article about the imminent extinction of Adelie penguins http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v468/n7327/full/4681034a.html blaming the AGW loss of ice and human-caused food chain distruption as the causes.
    There is an 18-20 year growth and retreat cycle of Antarctic ice which (approximately?) matches the Southern African drought/flood cycle (presently near the wet peak). The authors do not mention where Antarctica is on the melt/thaw cycle. The last great “Ice is Melting” scare stories from the south were about 20 years ago so I presume it is at the end of its melting cycle now.
    Yvon Le Maho writes, “…I have shown that an increase of only 0.3 °C in sea-surface temperature in the marginal sea-ice zone leads to a 10% drop in the survival rate of king penguins.”
    Good thing that the waters around Antarctica are only heating at a rate of 0.4 C/100 years and from the look of it http://i39.tinypic.com/dza246.png the rise is both temporary and meaningless in terms of natural variation.
    Interesting that the warming of oceans seems to have basically come to a stop. http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/04/05/march-global-sea-surface-temperatures/

  74. Love this blog. First a snip for humor that “might be misconstrued” (and I too would like the opportunity to miscontrue it), then a Frank Zappa link. With mostly thoughtful discussion and good science inbetween.

  75. jaymam says:
    January 13, 2011 at 3:32 pm
    Is this the beginning of Nature actually publishing real science again?
    Once again here is proof that scientists who may be expert in their field, in this case penguin research, lack common sense in their use of flipper tags.
    I’ve always wondered whether tags of any kind affect wildlife, but assumed that the scientists had checked that out. Now they have.
    It seems to me that the “affect on wildlife” is the actual capture (together, in many instances, with the added “tranquiliser dart”) in the first place. That is pretty likely to be traumatic and thus have some effect on the wildlife captured!

  76. Papa Bear says:
    January 14, 2011 at 9:27 am

    Papa Bear – Thank you for the clarification. I had misread it. Still the low sample size does not really lend itself to any conclusions, but 16% is more reasonable than 16 times.

  77. “Mike D. says:
    January 14, 2011 at 5:03 am
    tty says: January 14, 2011 at 12:30 am There have been large scale studies on the effect of banding of nestling birds which have shown no significant effects compared with unbanded nestlings.
    I call bull on that. Cite your alleged sources, tty. Except you can’t because they are imaginary or else utter crap.”
    This is a subject where there has been a lot of research. If you are really interested you might start by reading:
    Hockin, D., M. Ounsted, M. Gorman, D. Hill, V. Keller, and M.A. Barker. 1992. Examination of the Effects of Disturbance on Birds with Reference to Its Importance in Ecological Assessments. Journal of Environmental Management 36(4): 253-286.
    It is a review paper. It lists about a dozen studies on the effect on birds by disturbance from scientific activities.
    Here is another (partial) literature list on the subject:
    http://web4.audubon.org/bird/iba/iba_resources/References/Disturbance%20Literature_April2007_NC.pdf
    Or you might just Google “investigator disturbance” (which is the term usually used) + “birds”. You will find hundreds of papers on the effects of investigator disturbance on just about every conceivable bird. Most deal with the effect on breeding success. Whether they are all crap I will leave up to your judgment.
    I would however like to point out that most ornithologists have chosen their subject because they love birds, not to make money or a successful career (which is practically impossible).

  78. “PhilJourdan says:
    January 14, 2011 at 8:49 am
    I saw this article before. However, I have to wonder at the small sample size. Since only 50 were tagged each way, the statement that “16 times more likely” seems to be sloppy science again.”
    Have You considered a purely practical matter? The banded birds are easy to find (that’s why the bands are used), but to find the birds with only a transponder you must get to within a couple of meters of them. I think it is pretty good to manage to keep track of even fifty birds like that, even though King Penguins are extremely easy to approach.

  79. PhilJourdan:
    The scientists involved in the study have been against banding of penguins for quite some time and performed the study to prove it was adversely affecting them so it’s not really surprising that they chose to band just 50 rather than a few thousand.

  80. “Crispin in Waterloo says:
    January 14, 2011 at 9:53 am
    I picked up the 23 Dec Nature last night and there is a article about the imminent extinction of Adelie penguins http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v468/n7327/full/4681034a.html blaming the AGW loss of ice and human-caused food chain distruption as the causes.”
    Adelie penguin numbers increased dramatically from the 1950’s to the 1980’s, possibly because of decreasing competition for food from the whales which were practically exterminated in the same time-frame.
    It has been known for some time that they are decreasing in the Antarctic peninsula. Perhaps partly because whale stock are recovering in this area where commercial whaling ended first, but probably mostly because of warming climate. Adelie penguin colonies are known to move north and south with changing climate and have indeed been used as a climate proxy (probably one of the better ones), see for example:
    http://people.uncw.edu/emslies/research/Emslie%20et%20al%20Geology%202007.pdf
    “Yvon Le Maho writes, “…I have shown that an increase of only 0.3 °C in sea-surface temperature in the marginal sea-ice zone leads to a 10% drop in the survival rate of king penguins.”
    This I find profoundly unlikely since essentially all king penguins live near the Antarctic Convergence, well north of the marginal sea-ice zone. I think there is only one colony south of latitude 60, also king penguins are rather stationary birds, usually staying fairly close to the breeding colonies. Many of them probably never even see sea-ice.

  81. I had no idea they were collaring felines. I don’t have collars on my cats. It’s too dangerous.
    Domestrics cats can be (and sometimes are) strangled by thir collars and these people are collaring wild ones?
    I’m disgusted. I also think it’s ethically wrong.
    In the old days researchers took the time to KNOW the animals by sight. Actually I wonder how much animal observation they actually do nowadays. Not much I don’t think.

  82. Elise says:
    January 14, 2011 at 12:02 pm

    tty says:
    January 14, 2011 at 11:58 am

    Elise and TTY, I am not advocating killing more birds in the name of anything, I just made an observation. Given both of your objections (difficulty in tracking and the predetermined conclusion), they probably did as best they could without inflicting additional hardships and death on the birds. I appreciate both your comments as I have learned more about the incident (and about reading things more carefully).

  83. It brings a warm feeling to my heart to see scientist that do not have to justify there findings with CAGW.
    Maybe there is hope yet.

  84. “In the old days researchers took the time to KNOW the animals by sight. Actually I wonder how much animal observation they actually do nowadays. Not much I don’t think.”
    There is that one show, Big Cat Diary, though I don’t think it’s being filmed anymore. None of the big cats shown had collars or tags; instead the film makers used many spotters driving around searching within the animals’ large territories. The hosts/researchers could recognize the cats by sight. Hard enough with lions, but they also followed cheetahs and leopards.

  85. Here is another global warming claim that can bite the dust. The twentieth century warming is unexplainable. Really, there is a twenty year warming period. 1978-98. Check it out in the record. They can’t explain a twenty year trend. One that is hardly important since it doesn’t meet the definition of climatically significant.

  86. I am going to add a comment on the theme “When wildlife biologists are toxic to the animals they study”. I would like to see some transparent and open research published on this topic.
    From my own experience as a geologist, working in the Canadian Arctic from 1994 to 1998, I was shocked to learn how many of the wildlife biology studies being done in the area were conducted. We had two helicopter pilots working for us who said they were so much happier working for geologists becasue they found the work with the biologists very distressing. They said geologists were much more respectful of the wildlife, i.e. we went out of our way to NOT disturb the animals.
    One pilot told us stories about how every couple of years the biologists studying an endangered species of caribou on the island would hire a net gunner. They would ask him to fly with the skids of the helicopter at just-above antler level and chase down the poor critters so they could fire a shot-gun loaded with a net at their antlers, trip them up, and then land beside them so they could change the batteries in their radio collars and take a blood sample. According to the pilot, some of the animals had to be destroyed if they broke a leg when they tripped. This same biologists made a lot of noise about how these caribou were under threat by ‘industrial development’ when exploration geologists sought permits to do some prospecting on the island where he studied the caribou. Meanwhile, the local Inuit still routinely hunted these caribou and he didn’t seem to have a problem with that.
    As geologists, we always tried to give these poor critters wide berth as it was clear that they were spooked any time they heard a helicopter, so we would always fly high and pick our landing sites away from them, often adjusting our work locations to stay away from the caribou. (We did this for polar bears too – though more to save our own skins then theirs). And while I am not a wildlife biologists, I did notice a distinct difference in the reaction of the muskoxen on the island. They didn’t seem to give a rat’s a** about us and didn’t seem disturbed to have us nearby on foot, or be at all concerned at the sound of the helicopter. They didn’t even do their defensive, (standing butt-to-butt with antlers out) maneouvre, I’m not sure if that’s a difference in the species, or the fact they they had lucked out and not been picked for study by a wildlife biologist.
    Another pilot that we worked with had spent a few weeks with a bunch of bird biologists before he came to work with us and he was quite distressed at the technique these biologists used for capturing the birds, i.e. they put up a big net, and had him “herd” large flocks of the birds, with the helicopter, into flying into the net. He found it quite upsetting as many of the birds broke wings, or necks, getting entamgled in the nets.
    Ever since those summers I have wondered about the ethics of some of the wildlife biology research techniques, and if some of the approaches are really justified. This story of the banding of the penguins, and the influence of the observer and their research techniques, on their outcomes, is one that I think bears a lot more research itself in the wildlife biology community.

  87. tty: …I would however like to point out that most ornithologists have chosen their subject because they love birds, not to make money or a successful career (which is practically impossible)…
    Motivations? You want to bring up “good” motivations as an excuse for bad behaviors? Careful there, sport. Pandora’s Box and all that. Shall we delve into the real motivations of government and quango scientists who abuse science and the wildlife they study? Because I can if you really want to. I doubt the wye byes would approve, however.
    Let’s stick to outcomes and leave putative motivations out of it. Unless you really want to get down in the mud.

  88. Epistemology alert!
    In this thread one person claimed that most penguins live on islands that don’t have mammalian predators, but others talk of the mammal called “sea lion” eating penguins.
    Someone suggested that the banded penguins were those that couldn’t run away from humans but another said that King penguins let humans walk right up to them and touch them (surprising, given that most aware creatures are at least wary of unknown things).
    Which claims are theory, which are fact?
    It seems that some people need to take a lesson from the New Yorker magazine, which claims to go to great lengths to check facts in stories. http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2009/02/09/090209fa_fact_mcphee Note skepticism is practised, and even experts goof up. (The link is to an abstract, full article can be purchased. Issue date is “February 9 & 16, 2009”, a single issue.
    Imagine the cost of that checking.)”

  89. mariwarcwm says:
    January 14, 2011 at 2:14 am
    “Poor penguins! Leave them alone. Those ugly metal bands must get really cold out of the water …. conduct heat from the penguin’s flipper and possibly interfere with circulation.”
    ________
    They don’t do your insides any good either. Try swallowing a dozen banded ones for lunch.
    Ain’t it funny how nobody seems to notice that tagging animals subject to predation cannot fail to impact upon the predator. (Ooh, them little transmitters are crunchy though.)

  90. “because of the penguin’s anatomical shape”
    I wonder what other sorts of shape they might have?
    WRT snipping items that might offend the idiotic humourless, surely the addition of a smiley would indicate the nature of the content, enabling those unable to appreciate it at least to understand why (and enabling the rest of us to enjoy it)?

  91. “Try swallowing a dozen banded ones for lunch.”
    Look out soon for a report on how AGW is affecting leopard seals…

  92. I trust you would not have reservations if I placed a part of Another overhyped global warming claim bites the dust | Watts Up With That? on my univeristy blog?

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