Emperor Penguins Could Be Extinct In 80 Years, Climate Crisis To Blame Emperor penguin populations are at risk due to the climate emergency - Media Credit: Adobe. Do not use without permission.

98% Of Emperor Penguins Could Be Extinct In 80 Years, Climate Crisis To Blame

Whilst the species isn’t listed as endangered under environmental law, scientists say this is the case because governments don’t want to accept responsibility for climate change...


2 Minutes Read

Almost the entire population of the Emperor Penguin species will face extinction within the century, scientists warn.

Furthermore, most colonies will hurtle toward death by just 2050.

And, accelerated sea ice loss due to climate change is the cause, according to a major new study.

Emperor Penguins in danger

By 2100, a staggering 98 percent of the iconic penguin species will face being wiped out entirely, the Global Change Biology report reads. ‘Almost all’ colonies will be quasi-extinct, meaning the species is doomed for extinction even if some remain alive.

Currently, the birds – the largest of all penguins – form colonies on sea ice in Antarctica. But due to hiking greenhouse gas emissions and climate change, their lives are under threat.

“The need for legal recognition and enhanced precautionary management for emperor penguins is now urgent,” they state. This is because the threats are ‘within the foreseeable future’.

Scientists behind the study include Judy Che-Castaldo Judy, Shaye Wolf, Marika Holland, and Sara Labrousse.

Endangered Species Act

However, Emperor Penguins are not listed as an endangered species under environmental law, the US Endangered Species Act (ESA).

If they were added to the list, ‘enforceable tools’ are used to help save species, such as protecting habitats.

But the authors claim it could be unlikely that the species will be protected by the ESA because it would force governments to change the way they approach environmental issues.

In the report, they state: “ESA listing would require all US Federal agencies to evaluate and ensure that their activities do not jeopardize the species or their habitat, which could include limiting GHG emissions for species endangered by climate change.”

Animal agriculture and climate change

Creatures at risk of extinction due to climate change is the fault of many human behaviors. Experts and scientists globally state that the biggest driver of this is the meat industry.

A report published last year indicated forests burned for animal agriculture for thousands of years is one of the causes of staggering greenhouse gas emissions.

Furthermore, annual methane emissions are found to cause more global warming issues than all fossil fuel sources combined.

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The Author

Emily Baker

Emily is a journalist based in Devon, where she reports on issues affecting local people from politics to the environment. She has also written features on feminism for Polyester Magazine.

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Rowland Ross
Rowland Ross
1 year ago

Regarding the last paragraph, “Animal agriculture and climate change”, All of the statements are totally incorrect.

“Experts and scientists globally state that the biggest driver of this (GHGs) is the meat industry”. No they don’t! Official Stats from the IPCC are: All agriculture 26%, Animal agriculture 14,5%, Arable agriculture 11.5%. All figures include deforestation, transport etc. All are unacceptable!

Deforestation over the last 10,000 yrs has been mainly for arable. Only since WW2 has the position been reversed ( but not by much ie. Palm oil, avocados, oil seeds, sugar, soy, etc .)

Anthropogenic methane emissions have yet to be accurately determined but are believed to make up about 16% of overall GHGs. Of this approx 25% comes from animal agriculture, 12% from rice production, with the rest from a variety of sources, mainly extraction of fossil fuels, mining, landfill etc. This doesn’t exonerate Animal Agriculture but it does put it into context.

Darrell Sawczuk
Darrell Sawczuk
11 months ago
Reply to  Rowland Ross

Hi Rowland, we appreciate your feedback!

Experts do link animal agriculture to being the main driver of GHG emissions – https://climatehealers.org/the-science/animal-agriculture-position-paper/

“Beef stands out immediately. The expansion of pasture land to raise cattle was responsible for 41% of tropical deforestation.” – https://ourworldindata.org/drivers-of-deforestation

As you say, there are a lot of sources of GHG emissions and other issues facing our climate. One of those is animal agriculture. Something we do need to address.

Rowland Ross
Rowland Ross
1 year ago

The title of this piece makes no sense, you can’t have an 80% extinction! You can only have a 80% reduction.

Darrell Sawczuk
Darrell Sawczuk
11 months ago
Reply to  Rowland Ross

Hi Rowland!

Where are you getting the 80% from?

It is said – in the report – that 98% of the species will be quasi-extinct by 2100. A quasi-extinction threshold reflects the fact that a population is predicted to be doomed to extinction even if there are still individuals alive.

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