Reading Time: 2 minutes Emperor penguin populations are at risk due to the climate emergency Credit: Adobe. Do not use without permission.
Reading Time: 2 minutes

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.

Emily is a News and Features Writer for Plant Based News. She has previously worked as a journalist in Devon, UK, reporting on local issues from politics to the environment.