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Effects of Global Warming on Penguins

Effects of Global Warming Penguins, Disease, Health Global warming is a very popular topic of conversation worldwide. People have speculated wildly about the causes, effects and solutions. Although global warming does not affect my life now, it is a danger that could impact the lives of my children. Global warming is defined as an increase in the average temperature of the earth’s atmosphere that is theorized to contribute to climatic change and rising sea levels due to heat trapped by greenhouse gases.

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Jean Baptiste Joseph Fourier was a French mathematician who came up with the first theory of global warming in 1824 when he discovered that the Earth’s temperature was increasing (NewspaperArchive. com par 3). Fourier argued that “the Earth’s atmosphere traps solar radiation and reflects it back toward the earth” (NewspaperArchive. com par 3). It was later named the greenhouse effect in the late 19th century when Nobel Laureate Svante Arrhenius used the term to “explain how carbon dioxide traps heat in the Earth’s atmosphere” (NewspaperArchive. om par 4). This theory was later dismissed in favor of Milutin Milankovich’s hypothesis that climate change correlates with orbital changes of the earth, until the 1950s when scientist G. S. Callendar warned that the greenhouse effect was real and significantly impacting Earth’s atmosphere (NewspaperArchive. com par 5). The media speculated in the 20th century about the possible effects; some sources predicted the return of the ice age while others wondered about the massive flooding caused by the melting of the ice caps (NewspaperArchive. om par 6). Through reading and basic research I have discovered that global warming negatively impacts several species of penguins, infectious diseases, and public health and mortality rates aggravated by floods, droughts, and heat waves. Juame Forcada and his colleagues from the British Antarctic Survey and Natural Environment Research Council have investigated the effects of climate warming and resulting sea ice reductions on the habitats of Adelie and chinstrap penguins. Forcada et al. 411). Forcada further asserts that new evidence implies that global warming has caused the number of cold years, and consequently heavy winter sea ice, to decrease which harmfully effects “ice-dependent penguins” (411). Specifically, the populations of Adelie and chinstrap penguins have declined due to breeding failures and decreasing food supply (419). A study of the breeding performance and diet of chinstrap and Adelie penguins…indicated that both species had breeding failures…during the most persistent negative anomaly in sea ice extent…associated with a reduction in Antarctic krill biomass” (419). Both Adelie and chinstrap penguins are dependent on Antarctic krill as a staple of their diet (Gonzalez et al. 2). Areas where the food supply is dependent on sea ice as a constant feature of the environment indicates that climate warming will result in simultaneous population declines (Forcada et al. 421).

Celine Le Bohec from the Departement d’Ecolgie, et Ethologie, at the Institut Pluridisciplinaire Hubert Curien and her colleagues agree that the same adverse effects impact the King penguin population, “Warm events negatively affect both breeding success and adult survival of this seabird…Breeding reveals an immediate response to…warm phases of El Nino Southern Oscillation affecting food availability” (Le Bohec et al. 2493). In addition, the king penguins’ survival and breeding success is reduced when the air temperature and sea-surface temperature is high (2495).

Finally, Le Bohec concludes that, “King penguin populations are at heavy extinction risk under the current global warming predictions” (2493). The consequences of global warming heavily affect the marine ecosystem. (Forcada et al. 411). “Many health outcomes and diseases are sensitive to climate, including…infectious diseases” (Patz, Olson 535). According to J. A. Patz and S. H. Olson from the Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment, infectious disease can be transmitted from organism to organism, and one of the most deadly diseases is malaria (Patz, Olson 539, 540). Between 700,000 and 2. 7 million people – mostly children in sub-Saharan Africa – die each year of malaria, and, thanks to climate…change…there is no evidence that malaria attributable mortality is falling” (540). The transmission of malaria has also been linked with temperature fluctuations in highly endemic areas (540). In Punjab, a region in India, extreme rainfall and the humidity that resulted have been accepted for years as major indicators of malaria epidemics (540).

Patz claims that “More recently in the region, the frequency of malaria epidemics was observed to increase approximately five-fold” (545). Andy Haines from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine concurs with the findings of Patz and Olson: “Climate change will cause…increase in the population at risk in Africa…climate change will also lengthen the transmission season in many areas, causing a 16-28% increase in the total number of person-months of exposure” (Haines et al. 590). Public health in many places will be heavily impacted by climate warming.

Patz and Olson also discuss the deaths resulting from severe storms, natural disasters, rising sea level and droughts that occur with ever increasing frequency as a result of climate change: “Floods, droughts, and extreme storms have claimed millions of lives during the recent past, and have adversely affected the lives of many more people” (Patz, Olson 537). Disasters alone have claimed the lives of 123,000 people in the world each year (537). “Africa suffers the highest rate of disaster-related deaths, even though 80% of the people affected by natural disasters are in Asia” (537).

These catastrophes can also cause mental disorders, such as post-traumatic-stress disorder among people depending on the “unexpectedness of the impact, the intensity of the experience, and the long-term exposure to the visual signs of the disaster” (537). Haines agrees, “Natural disasters have a variety of health impacts. “These range from immediate effects of physical injury and morbidity and mortality through potential long lasting effects on mental health” (Haines et al. 588). Additionally, Haines attributes most deaths caused by flooding to an increased drowning risk (588). In 1996, 86 people died from a flood in the town of Biescas in Spain as a consequence of the stream of water and mud that suddenly covered a campsite located near a channelized river” (588). “Slow-rise river flood events” have also led to fatalities: “In 1997, river floods in central Europe left of 200,000 people homeless, and more than 100 people were killed” (588). Lastly, droughts are a concern both Patz and Haines comment on, “Droughts may have wide ranging effects on health including on nutrition…forest fires causing air pollution” (589). “That droughts cause famines well recognized….

Droughts and other climate extremes…have a direct impact on food crops” (Patz, Olson 538). While Patz and Olson admit that the projection of climate change on food production appears to be neutral, “such change will probably exacerbate regional inequalities in the food supply. As there is a breakdown in sanitation as water resources become depleted, droughts can also increase the incidence of diarrhea and diseases, such as scabies, conjunctivitis, and trachoma” (538). Patz and Haines are also in agreement that heat waves can be deadly. “Mortality rises in hot weather” (Haines et al. 588).

According to Patz, “In the U. S. A. , heat waves are more deadly than hurricanes, floods, and tornadoes combined” (Patz, Olson 535). In an incredible heat wave that affected much of Europe in 2003, up to 45,000 people were killed in 2 weeks (535). Haines states, “Impact on mortality occurred in France where it was estimated that 14,800 excess deaths occurred during the first 3 weeks of August 2003…the sustained period of extreme high temperatures unique in the recorded history of Paris, together with housing designed for cooler summers, caused a major public health crisis” (Haines et al. 588).

Moreover, “the excess mortality from heatwaves is related to cardiovascular, cerebrovascular, and respiratory causes” (588). Air pollution compounds the effects of warmer weather and could contribute to a greater number of deaths (Patz, Olson 536 and Haines et al. 588). “It is very likely that climate change will be associated with increase in the frequency of heatwaves” (Haines et al. 588). The occurrence of heat waves, given the effect on health, is something that is not desired. As a result of my research I have learned that global warming is a visible threat to both animals and people.

To prevent loss of life and extinction of species, this menace should be addressed and dealt with. Works Cited Forcada, Jaume, P. N. Trathan, K. Reid, E. J. Murphy, and J. P. Croxall. “Contrasting population changes in sympatric penguin species in association with climate warming. ” Global Change Biology 12. 3 (2006): 411-23. Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 7 Dec. 2009. Gonzalez, Virginia G. , Rodolfo W. Kinkelin, and Mark Stevens. “Ecosystem-Based Management of the Antarctic Krill Fishery to Protect Penguins and Other Krill Predators. ” Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition. ASOC. Web. 7 Dec. 2009. <http://www. soc. org/>. Haines, Andy, R. S. Kovats, D. Campbell-Lendrum, and C. Corvalan. “Climate change and human health: Impacts, vulnerability and public health. ” Public Health 120. 7 (2005): 585-96. Public Health. Elsevier, Inc, July 2006. Web. 7 Dec. 2009. <http://www. publichealthjrnl. com/home>. “History of Global Warming. ” NewspaperArchive. com. Heritage Microfilm, Inc. , 2009. Web. 7 Dec. 2009. <http://www. newspaperarchive. com/>. Le Bohec, Celine, Joel M. Durant, Michel Gauthier-Clerc, Nils C. Stenseth, Young-Hyang Park, Roger Pradel, David Gremillet, Jean-Paul Gendner, and Yvon Le Maho. King penguin population threatened by Southern Ocean warming. ” PNAS 105. 7 (2008): 2493-497. PNAS. National Academy of Sciences, 19 Feb. 2008. Web. 7 Dec. 2009. <http://www. pnas. org/>. Patz, Jonathan A. , and S. H. Olson. “Change and health: global to local influences on disease risk. ” Annals of Tropical Medicine & Parasitology 100. 6 (2006): 535-49. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 7 Dec. 2009. <http://web. ebscohost. com. libdb. dccc. edu/ehost/search? vid=1&hid=111&[email protected]>.


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