Climate change researchers may be unknowingly skewing data

Posted on January 12, 2011

King penguins (Aptenodytes patagonicus halli)....

Image via Wikipedia

From USA Today:

In an article already creating controversy in animal conservation circles, a French team of marine biologists says that putting flipper bands on king penguins impairs their survival and ability to reproduce and should be ended, based on a 10-year study on Indian Ocean islands north of Antarctica.

Because of this, they say, studies that use the penguins as an indicator of climate change need to be seriously reconsidered as it might be the bands, not the climate, that is contributing to penguin population declines. (emphasis mine)

The French team put stainless steel bands on the flippers of 50 king penguins and put 1-inch data chips under the skin of the tail in 50 others. The penguins lived on Possession Island in the sub-Antarctic Crozet archipelago. Over a decade beginning in 1998, they observed that the banded penguins produced 39% fewer chicks and had a survival rate 16% lower than non-banded birds.

Because penguins are “big, robust birds,” it’s difficult to think that a small metal band would do much to them, he says. But he and others have studied the drag the bands add to the penguins when swimming. On some species they found the bands meant the birds were using 20% more energy to swim. Burning more energy may be a reason they arrive at breeding grounds later than others.

 Ironic isn’t it?  These environmentalists who are trying to save the world from “climate change” are inadvertently causing these penguins to reproduce at a lower rate and die a premature death.  The irony is compounded when it’s discovered that their research methods are providing faulty data on the issue they are trying to study.  A lose-lose situation if you will. 

This is not the first time research methodology used by climate change advocates has come under scrutiny.  The IPCC has recently been challenged on its predictions for climate change in Bangladesh because scientists neglected to include annual sediment deposits  which counter rising sea levels.  Another error by the IPCC was found when  information on mountain ice which was included in an IPCC report was based on anecdotal information.  Lastly, let’s not forget the instance in which climate scientists selectively chose only tree ring data that would produce results the scientists were looking for while ignoring other data from the same area. 

At least that last study didn’t kill the trees off early.

Posted in: Politics