Icebergs and Adèlie penguins, Adèlie Land, Antarctica (South Pole) (66°00’S – 141°00’E) © Yann Arthus-Bertrand.
Adélie penguins are lively birds only found in Antarctica. Born survivors, they can dive as deep as 175 metres and cover long distances to find food. Around four million pairs breed in the wild. They may well be on the menus of various seals, whales and birds, but such predators are not the biggest danger facing these penguins. Climate change in the Antarctica, particularly the western peninsula, which is one of the places in the world where the temperature is rising fastest, is the main threat. Up to 60% of their colonies are at risk.
GOAL BY 2030: WE CAN NO LONGER AVOID CLIMATE CHANGE, BUT WE MUST BE BETTER AT DEALING WITH ITS CONSEQUENCES.
The climate has always changed, but the current rate of global warming is unprecedented in human history. In fact, we need to go back more than three million years to find the same levels of CO2 in the atmosphere as we have now – and we are still pumping out more every year.
Climate change and its consequences already cost thousands of lives each year. The World Health Organization foresees this figure rising by a further 250,000 between 2030 and 2050. The deaths are caused by the increasing frequency of natural disasters and heatwaves as the climate changes. They increase the risk of hunger and malnutrition, as well as the prevalence of dysentery, malaria and other diseases.
By 2030, every country must be involved in work to counteract climate change and the damage it causes, and must have adopted policies and plans to cope with an extreme climate. Every individual must also have learned how to avoid making climate change worse, and how to react to extreme weather events.
Helping developing countries cope with climate change will be one of the main challenges. They both bear the brunt and are the least able to adapt. The richest countries must help both financially and by providing expertise in planning and governing effectively.