NYTimes: Climate Change Is Driving Albatrosses to ‘Divorce’

FILE — In this Dec. 13, 2005 file photo, two Laysan albatross do a mating dance on Midway Atoll in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. The Battle of Midway was a major turning point in World War II's Pacific theater. But the remote atoll where thousands died is now a delicate …
AP Photo/Lucy Pemoni, File

In an apparently serious article, the New York Times declared Monday that climate change is compelling some albatrosses, which usually mate for life, to “divorce” their partners.

Citing a study published last week by New Zealand’s Royal Society, the article by Natasha Frost states that albatrosses are among the most monogamous creatures on the planet but “climate change may be driving more of the birds to ‘divorce.’”

“The researchers, led by Francesco Ventura of the University of Lisbon, found that the divorce rate (sic) among the birds… increased in years in which the ocean was warmest,” it reads.

The research reportedly involved 15,500 breeding pairs of black-browed albatrosses on New Island in the Falklands using data collected over 15 years.

“Albatross divorce is typically very rare,” the article notes with no apparent irony, and the “most common trigger for permanent separation is an inability to successfully fledge a chick.”

The article also states that albatross divorce is “the technical term used by the researchers” and foreshadows “a worrisome trend for seabird populations in general as temperatures rise globally.”

The anthropomorphism does not end with the concept of divorce, however, as the article also speaks of the birds’ “love” for one another.

“It’s pretty obvious they love each other,” it states, citing Graeme Elliott, an albatross expert at New Zealand’s Department of Conservation.

“After you’ve been watching albatrosses for 30, 40 years, you can kind of spot it,” Elliott asserts. “They do all this stuff that we think’s important — human emotion stuff, you know — greeting the long-lost mate, and they love each other, and they’re going to have a baby. It’s wonderful.”

Albatross divorce is just the latest in a long list of misfortunes blamed on global warming.

Climate change has also been blamed for the rise of the Taliban, “cognitive decline,” California fires, shrinking goats, a toxic caterpillar plague in Spain, the death of 80,000 reindeer, the Syrian conflict, the massacre of Christians in Nigeria, smaller French fries in the UK, the disappearance of the Loch Ness Monster, and the death of Aretha Franklin.


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