A Penguin’s Journey Through Climate Change
We see birds of all shapes, sizes, and colors in our daily lives, but one bird in particular has captured the hearts and minds of humans since the first explorers set sail on the open seas. Penguins, everyone’s favorite tuxedo-clad birds, have a long history of charming everyone lucky enough to encounter them. From their awkward way of walking (okay, waddling) to their enviable parenting methods, penguins are fascinating birds with a storied and interesting history – and a tenuous future.
Though the number is not confirmed, there are between 17 and 19 species of penguins around the world. Most live in the Southern Hemisphere in New Zealand, Africa, and Antarctica, but one species, the Galápagos penguin, can be found north of the equator. As flightless birds, penguins evolved to have flippers instead of wings, and what they lose in their inability to fly they more than make up for with their superior swimming skills.
Penguins have been calling Antarctica their home for more than 45,000 years. In those thousands of years, penguins have made the entire Antarctic Peninsula their home. The Antarctic Peninsula is home to huge swaths of penguins, namely the emperor and Adélie penguins, and it has become the center of a lot of media and scientific attention over the last few years.
These penguins rely on the icy environment to find food as well as breed and rear their young, but unfortunately, the peninsula has been heating up far quicker than anywhere else on Earth. This is causing the ice to melt rapidly, leaving the penguins with little space to call home and driving down their food sources in the process.
A penguin’s primary diet consists of krill, shellfish like crabs and shrimp, and fish, generally found in abundance in the southern hemisphere. Over the past few decades, as sea temperatures change has caused many of the penguin’s natural prey species to die off in large numbers, forcing penguins to search further and deeper for food and killing off a portion of the penguin population.
Penguins create nests for their eggs on the icy ground, and snuggle over and protecting them while battling one of Earth’s harshest environments. The warming of the Antarctic climate has given way to rain and melted snow, leaving penguin eggs in a dangerous situation. Eggs and newborn chicks that sit in puddles instead of ice are unlikely to hatch, as the chicks do not yet have the waterproof feathers of their parents, leaving them vulnerable to hypothermia.
As these types of environments are rare on our planet, penguins the world over have begun to succumb to the ravages of global warming. Already, population averages are down, and according to a NASA-funded study conducted by the University of Delaware, before the turn of the next century penguin populations could be devastated. If the current loss rates hold up, Antarctica will lose more than 60% of its penguin population, and push the remaining penguins into smaller and smaller habitable zones.
The solution to this problem is not an easy one, as researchers and scientists have warned. Not only do we need to preserve and protect penguin habitats that are susceptible to interference from human activities, but we as a human race need to strive to significantly reduce our destructive impact on the environment.
They caution that this is not an individual effort alone, but a global one. While families and communities do their part to be a more environmentally conscious, manufacturers need to step up their clean and green game to support smarter factories initiatives that reduce waste, runoff, pollution, and destruction and exploitation of the environment and natural resources.
Golden Arrow is committed to being a positive example of green manufacturing, and a global leader in sustainable harvesting, manufacturing, and recycling practices. Golden Arrow is proud to be “green” at every stage of the industrial packaging game, and our commitment to helping protect remarkable species like penguins from the effects of climate change – in our own little way – is the driving force behind our business model, mission, and values.