Climate change’s impacts on the nonhuman world

By Midge Raymond,

  Filed under: Uncategorized

When we read about global warming, we hear mostly about its effects on humans; I so appreciate this NYT article that takes a close look at scientists whose areas of research, from coral reefs to polar bears to penguins, are literally disappearing because the animals they study are dying in large numbers.

If you love penguins as much as I do, scroll down to the interview with Dee Boersma of the University of Washington’s Center for Ecosystem Sentinels. Dee is the scientist with whom I met my first Antarctic, Magellanic, and Galapagos penguins (and whose work inspired storylines in both My Last Continent and my forthcoming novel FLOREANA). As you’ll see in this article, penguins are in trouble — as are so many other animals.

Dee’s words in this piece are stark but also hopeful: “My view is that the penguins have a right to exist. I think we have too many people for the Earth’s resources. Overpopulation and overconsumption.”

The hopeful part of this, to me, is that if we choose to live carefully in the world, we can make room for these endangered animals. We can avoid taking up too much of their food, avoid making the world too warm for them, and avoid taking their much-needed habitat.

When I first volunteered counting penguins with Dee in 2006, the Magellanic colony at Punta Tombo was the largest Magellanic colony in the world. But its numbers have gone from 400,000 breeding pairs in the 1980s to about 150,000 in 2019.

We humans do have the ability to save the world before it’s too late. From small choices like eating mostly (or only) plants to driving less to voting in candidates who take our planet’s health seriously — it can be done.

The animals of the world already take care of the worlds they live in — we humans are the only species that does not. And now it is up to us humans to save not only ourselves but the animals as well.

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