China Ruins Antarctic Treaty Attempt to Enact Special Protection Status for Emperor penguins

From Polar Bear Science

Dr. Susan Crockford,

China has thwarted an attempt by members of the Antarctic Treaty organization to enact special protection status for the Emperor penguin, which would have generated a ‘Species Action Plan’. Apparently, such a proposal required a consensus of all parties and China wouldn’t go along.

Emperor Penguins with Chicks. Snow Hill in Antarctica.

But as we know from past actions by the IUCN Polar Bear Specialists Group against former member Mitch Taylor, such impediments are easily sidestepped when a decision requiring consensus doesn’t go your way.

Hyping the Demise of Emperor Penguins

Over the last few years, a few scientists–see here and here–have used totally implausible climate models (those that use ‘worst case’ or ‘unmitigated’ scenarios, see graphic below) to predict the future near-extinction of Emperor penguins due to sea ice loss. I commented on this issue two years ago in detail (with references).

I’d suggest that using far-fetched ‘worse case’ scenario predictions to propose an unlikely but scary-sounding future catastrophe isn’t likely to work any better for emperor penguins than it has done for polar bears, especially when the animals keep thriving.” Crockford, 2020.

These ‘worst case’ scenario models to project future climate have been deemed totally inappropriate by respected scientists (e.g. Burgess et al. 2021; Hausfather and Peters 2020; O’Neil et al. 2020; Spencer 2021) but activist conservation specialists studying polar bears and penguins continue to use them to press for special protection status for their beloved species. In recent years, both polar bears (Crockford 2022) and Emperor penguins (Fretwell et al. 2012; Fretwell and Trathan 2020; Trathan et al. 2020) have documented slight increases in overall population size.

Pointing this out has gotten me ‘climate mauled’ by the scientific community–see my length response to the 2018 BioScience attack on my reputation and integrity–and cancelled by the academic community (Laframboise and Crockford 2020). But I digress…

Antarctic Treaty Thwarted

With China obstinately standing in their way, the other members of the Antarctic Treaty organization intends to do what they want regardless, according to a report by PBS (3 June 2022):

“An overwhelming majority of parties held the opinion that there is sufficient scientific evidence for the species to be put under the special protection,” the German government, which hosted the May 22-June 2 meeting, said in a statement Friday.

While a formal decision was “blocked by one party,” it said that most countries attending the meeting planned nevertheless to put in place national measures to protect emperor penguins.

PBS, 3 June 2022

However, the lack of consensus means they didn’t get the ‘Species Action Plan’ they were really after: having failed to achieve their objective, they are trying to spin it into a positive result.

Background: Antarctic Sea Ice

The minimum extent for Antarctic sea ice since 1979 has been highly variable without showing a meaningful long-term declining trend, with extent for a few years recently lower than average but many years well above average. The graph below is based on data from NSIDC for February 2022:

The maximum extent overall looks to be increasing:


Burgess, M.G., Ritchie, J., Shapland, J. and Pielke Jr., R. 2021. IPCC baseline scenarios have over-projected CO2 emissions and economic growth. Environmental Research Letters 16:014016.

Crockford, S.J. 2019The Polar Bear Catastrophe That Never Happened. Global Warming Policy Foundation, London. Available in paperback and ebook formats.

Crockford, S.J. 2020. State of the Polar Bear Report 2019. Global Warming Policy Foundation Report 39, London. pdf here.

Crockford, S.J. 2021. The State of the Polar Bear Report 2020. Global Warming Policy Foundation Report 48, London. pdf here.

Crockford, S.J. 2022. The State of the Polar Bear 2021. Global Warming Policy Foundation Note 29, London. pdf here.

Fretwell, P.T., LaRue, M.A., Morin, P., Kooyman, G.L., Wienecke, B., Ratcliffe, N., Fox, A.J., Fleming, A.H., Porter, C. and Trathan, P.N. 2012. An emperor penguin population estimate: the first global, synoptic survey of a species from space. PLoS One 7: e33751 [open access] doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0033751.

Fretwell, P.T. and Trathan, P.N. 2021. Discovery of new colonies by Sentinel2 reveals good and bad news for emperor penguins. Remote Sensing in Ecology and Conservation 7(2):139-153.
Hausfather, Z. and Peters, G.P. 2020. Emissions – the ‘business as usual’ story is misleading [“Stop using the worst-case scenario for climate warming as the most likely outcome — more-realistic baselines make for better policy”]. Nature 577: 618-620.

Laframboise, D. and Crockford, S.J. 2020. Walruses, polar bears, and the fired professor. In: Climate Change: The Facts 2020, J. Marohasy (ed.), pp. 21-34. Institute of Public Affairs, Melbourne, Australia.

O’Neil, B.C., Carter, T.R., Ebi, K., et al. 2020. Achievements and needs for the climate change scenario framework. Nature Climate Change 10:1074-1084.

Spencer, R.W. 2021. ‘An Earth Day reminder: ‘Global Warming’ is only ~50% of what models predict. Dr. Roy Spencer blog, 22 April.

Trathan, P.N. and others, including Fretwell, P. T. 2020. The emperor penguin – Vulnerable to projected rates of warming and sea ice loss. Biological Conservation 241:108216. [open access]

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Bryan A
June 5, 2022 10:24 pm

This report is likely to get an icy reception
I wonder what objections China had to protecting penguins
Are they used in the production of Chinese Aphrodisiacs?
Or perhaps just to make Chinese formal wear
Maybe they simply despise Oswald Copperpot

Last edited 1 year ago by Bryan A
Serge Wright
Reply to  Bryan A
June 6, 2022 1:02 am

Perhaps the Chinese are looking to colonise the area and view the penguins as a potential source of food that could replace chicken or duck. Sweet and sour penguin or perhaps Peking penguin ?. The eggs could also be used in fried rice dishes.

Reply to  Bryan A
June 6, 2022 1:41 am

pobably the penguins range is on an area they plan to claim or try and mine for minerals

Reply to  Bryan A
June 6, 2022 2:50 am

“Maybe they simply despise Oswald Copperpot”

Are you a fan?!!!

What about Fish Mooney, is she really a bee?

Last edited 1 year ago by strativarius
Ron Long
Reply to  Bryan A
June 6, 2022 3:18 am

I’m guessing China thinks that once the Emperor Penguins have special status there will be a demand to reduce global “carbon pollution”, which would be another factor against the Chinese wholesale advancement of coal-fired electricity generation.

Gary Pearse
Reply to  Ron Long
June 6, 2022 6:25 pm

More likely, climateers, who have waited in vain the collapse of ice sheets, crisis melting of East Antarctica and 20m of sealevel rise, have decided to cook up a crisis for penguins to choke off the anti-global warming news from this belligerent continent. OK, we gotta go with saving the Penguins! (“Gee Bert, don’t put the transmitter collars on so tight!”) A Scholarly Bullshit annual report of the miserable state of the penguin can be issued.

Everyone knows Climate is a game of Whack-a-Moley. Wildfires not cooperating? There are climate professors and the minions who are into the Game ready to set fires in support of “The Physics” of climate change.

Icebreakers criss-crossing the Arctic are used to ‘monitor’ the damage to the Arctic Ice by global warming!!!

Weather station T readings are adjusted to make CO2 the crisis temperature control knob ………

……Using RCP 8.5 model worst case scenario, the Global Greening will be taken care of using Agent Orange….


Reply to  Bryan A
June 6, 2022 12:33 pm

I’m guessing that protection plan would have locked up some resource that the Chinese were planning on using.

June 5, 2022 10:27 pm

Perhaps the Emperor penguins are suffering from the same issues demonstrated in this study in Nature Published: 12 January 2011

I wonder if they factored out the human element which is not climate change but is very real?

Reliability of flipper-banded penguins as indicators of climate change

AbstractIn 2007, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change highlighted an urgent need to assess the responses of marine ecosystems to climate change1. Because they lie in a high-latitude region, the Southern Ocean ecosystems are expected to be strongly affected by global warming. Using top predators of this highly productive ocean2 (such as penguins) as integrative indicators may help us assess the impacts of climate change on marine ecosystems3,4. Yet most available information on penguin population dynamics is based on the controversial use of flipper banding. Although some reports have found the effects of flipper bands to be deleterious5,6,7,8, some short-term (one-year) studies have concluded otherwise9,10,11, resulting in the continuation of extensive banding schemes and the use of data sets thus collected to predict climate impact on natural populations12,13.

Here we show that banding of free-ranging king penguins (Aptenodytes patagonicus) impairs both survival and reproduction, ultimately affecting population growth rate. Over the course of a 10-year longitudinal study, banded birds produced 39% fewer chicks and had a survival rate 16% lower than non-banded birds, demonstrating a massive long-term impact of banding and thus refuting the assumption that birds will ultimately adapt to being banded6,12. Indeed, banded birds still arrived later for breeding at the study site and had longer foraging trips even after 10 years. One of our major findings is that responses of flipper-banded penguins to climate variability (that is, changes in sea surface temperature and in the Southern Oscillation index) differ from those of non-banded birds. We show that only long-term investigations may allow an evaluation of the impact of flipper bands and that every major life-history trait can be affected, calling into question the banding schemes still going on. In addition, our understanding of the effects of climate change on marine ecosystems based on flipper-band data should be reconsidered.

Reply to  .KcTaz
June 6, 2022 6:13 pm

Hey they released “Happy Feet” to build up empathy for the cause … how can you not love a tap dancing and singing penguin.

June 5, 2022 10:27 pm

I’m sure Extinction Rebellion is preparing to march on Peking as we speak.
(Do I need a sarc tag?)

Bryan A
Reply to  Brad-DXT
June 5, 2022 10:30 pm

Does China sell Wet Market ingredients for Peking Penguin?

Reply to  Bryan A
June 5, 2022 10:38 pm

Sounds like they are just opposed to limiting themselves by virtue signaling to Enviromarxists*.

*Stolen term from David Middleton 🍸

Reply to  Brad-DXT
June 6, 2022 4:27 am

A search finds that it or its variants have been used since around 2008. The following gem from the Conversation appears in such a search, and provides further evidence that global Marxism is the goal of many academics, following capitalism’s demise.

Reply to  Scissor
June 6, 2022 8:45 am

The Chinese don’t want other Marxists telling them what to do.

Remember what Mao did with academics at the start of his regime. I think Xi pictures himself as the second coming of Mao.

Reply to  Bryan A
June 6, 2022 1:01 am

Hopefully they sell parts of extinction rebels.

Reply to  Bryan A
June 6, 2022 2:54 am

Does China sell Wet Market ingredients for Peking Penguin?

Best ask the…”Wuhan Asia-Pacific Condiments Company

Richard Page
Reply to  Bryan A
June 6, 2022 7:25 am

Penguin? We thought you said ‘Pangolin’ – so sorry, it’s all been a terrible misunderstanding!

June 5, 2022 10:32 pm

File under “Some Things Never Change and It’s Always Climate Change”

CLAIM: Climate Change Cited for Penguin Decline
Guest Blogger / January 25, 2020
Guest Post by Bob Vislocky, Ph.D.
 Charles Rotter
CBS news recently reported a 50% decline in the number of chinstrap penguins residing on Elephant Island and a 75% decline of those living on Penguin Island all because of ….. drum roll please ….. global warming!
As the article above states, the nearly 3* C of global warming over the last 50 years caused a reduction of sea ice, which in turn results in a reduction of krill that eat the algae and other organisms that live underneath in the sea ice. As the krill population declines so does that of the chinstrap penguin since krill is their favorite food.
Ironically, the journal article below from a 1991 study claimed that the chinstrap penguin population increased during the 1900s *because* of global warming. So apparently global warming can both increase and decrease the penguin population. Wish the climate community would get their story straight!
Adding even more confusion, the following informational page from the Australian Department of Environment states that the chinstrap penguins have lower breeding success when there is more sea ice as it restricts access to the sea for foraging adults.
But the original CBS article says that more sea ice means more krill and a higher population of chinstrap penguins.

So let’s sum this all up:
* Global warming = decline in the # of chinstrap penguins
* Global warming = increase in the # of chinstrap penguins
* More sea ice = lower breeding success of chinstrap penguins
* More sea ice = increase in the population of chinstrap penguins
So basically no matter what happens to the penguin population, climate change has all the bases covered. Expect anything different?
Back to the recent CBS article, the argument of “global warming = less sea ice = fewer krill = penguin decline” is not relevant for the Antarctic where sea ice has actually held its own or even increased over time (figure 1) based on a recent PNAS study. So if there is a local change in sea ice near Elephant and Penguin Islands, then it’s more likely due to a regional fluctuation rather than a CO2-induced global change.

Figure 1.
So what does better explain the decline in chinstrap penguins that the CBS article conveniently fails to mention? Overfishing!!
CLAIM: Climate Change Cited for Penguin Decline via

File under “Some Things Never Change and It’s Always Climate Change”

Chris Hanley
June 5, 2022 10:50 pm

The SH 12 month average sea ice extent (1980 -2022) seems to be recovering from a steep drop in 2015 after a three and a half decade rise that clears CO2.
In any case emperor penguins are not dependent of sea ice, according to Wiki colonies have been found on grounded ice.
Why would the Chinese be opposed to special protection, maybe they are regarded as a particular delicacy, the Chinese seem to eat practically anything else (a racist might say).

Last edited 1 year ago by Chris Hanley
June 5, 2022 11:06 pm

China doesn’t even have any territorial claim in Antarctica. So how does that work.

Reply to  aussiecol
June 5, 2022 11:46 pm

They produce the parkas.😉

Reply to  aussiecol
June 6, 2022 1:20 am

They are part of the Antarctic Treaty. No, I have no idea why. However, this is one of the extremely rare instances where China is right. The entire thing is CAGW virtue signaling and more CAGW Alarmism, nothing more. The western nations will cut no ties with China proving, when push comes to shove, they all know their alleged concerns are poppycock.

Reply to  .KcTaz
June 6, 2022 7:41 pm

But … I don’t know if penguin taste good or not!

Reply to  aussiecol
June 6, 2022 1:43 am

appears they have claimed areas and are trying to infringe on aussie claimed spots as well from what I read

Reply to  aussiecol
June 6, 2022 2:54 am

They eat the retired huskies etc

Richard Page
Reply to  fretslider
June 6, 2022 11:54 am

No-one eats the retired Huskies – it’s best to eat the younger ones; marinated for a while and with the right accompaniments of course.


Reply to  aussiecol
June 6, 2022 6:32 am

“China doesn’t even have any territorial claim in Antarctica.”

….. not yet…

Richard Page
Reply to  PCman999
June 6, 2022 11:58 am

Hasn’t stopped them before; I believe that they’re still pushing a claim on the Arctic as well. Their claims appear to be based on their population, not geographical proximity – they feel they are nearly 20% of the world population so they are demanding a 1/5th stake in anything going.

June 6, 2022 12:58 am

2030 is not far away and a whole stinking heap of failed predictions of doom will be exposed as false. Especially concerning the Arctic, Antarctic and the denizens thereof. Most of these are based on computer games models as opposed to real observational science. Meanwhile pseudoscientific prophecies of further doom and disaster pile up into a mountain of dystopia resembling the USA’s national debt.

And like the debt, a time is coming when it will all be called in.

Reply to  Phil Salmon
June 6, 2022 5:35 am

The can will just get kicked another 5 to 10 years out and there will be no memory of the original doom articles.

June 6, 2022 1:07 am

When they started assessing Antarctic emperor penguin colony numbers and population by satellite imagery at high resolution, as opposed to desk-bound computer modelling, they found that there were ~60% more of them than they had realised, including several unknown colonies:

Ed Zuiderwijk
June 6, 2022 1:40 am

Could it be that penguins are used in ‘traditional Chinese’ medicine to counter dementia?

June 6, 2022 1:40 am

stuffed if I see why we even allowed china into antarctic lands and theyre apparently pushing into lands Aus claims as well
no nth hem nations(except ones that had the early explorers there) should have ANY rights to the sth areas

Philip Mulholland
Reply to  ozspeaksup
June 6, 2022 2:13 am

no nth hem nations(except ones that had the early explorers there) should have ANY rights to the sth areas

Why is that a relevant argument?
Just pick a different hemisphere.
You could just as well say:
No eastern hemisphere nations should have ANY rights to western hemisphere areas.
How’s that going to work for you and your near north neighbours?

Oh and don’t dare mention Chinese Admiral Zheng He

Richard Page
Reply to  ozspeaksup
June 6, 2022 12:02 pm

I’ve forgotten which International treaty established it, but Antarctica was held to be jointly ‘owned’ by every nation on earth and any country could establish a scientific (strictly non military I think) base there.

June 6, 2022 3:00 am

Think of the press as a great keyboard on which the government can play.”

Faith moves mountains, but only knowledge moves them to the right place…

You can’t change the masses. They will always be the same: dumb, gluttonous and forgetful.”

Each of these quotes has an echo in the klimatpolitik of our times.

I have a feeling that not only has Orwell given them a manual, but they have been educated by Josef Goebbels.

Reply to  fretslider
June 6, 2022 4:54 am

Here’s one. North Korea officially takes over the UN’s disarmament conference today.

Reply to  Scissor
June 6, 2022 5:28 am

The UNhinged never fails, does it.

Richard Page
Reply to  Scissor
June 6, 2022 7:33 am

Ah yes, the blind leading the blind. Wonderful. sarc (do I need it, really?)

June 6, 2022 4:53 am

If there are three quarters of a million Emperor Penguins ( Chapter 3, Climate Change The Facts 2020 ), why do they need special protection?

I think if I were an Emperor Penguin, I would be pretty scared, remembering the frightening announcement of the guy at the door saying “I’m from the Government and I’m here to help you.”

Reply to  Oldseadog
June 6, 2022 6:27 pm

“You must wear this mask on your face band on your flipper. It will protect you and Grandma Penguin. We’re from The Government. Would we lie to you?”

June 6, 2022 7:13 am

I thought the penguin population reduction was debunked when they discovered the birds roam more than they realized and started estimating colony size by the poop they left behind allowing the count to be done quickly from the air.

June 6, 2022 7:17 am

China likes the beak and feet of chickens. A big seller in this country.

Andy Pattullo
June 6, 2022 12:21 pm

China does many things that are not good for the environment or human society, but refusing to join with the catastrophist environmentalists to protect species that are thriving and as far removed from human influence as is possible isn’t one of them. If emperor penguins could vote I suspect they would vote to be left alone to continue making more emperor penguins and eating sushi.

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