Save the Reindeer!

Science Matters


Just in time for Christmas, we have news of a worldwide outbreak of shrinking reindeer caused by global warming/climate change. A websearch of “shrinking reindeer” returns links to hundreds of media reports from everywhere, evidence of the global nature of this event.

That is, until you read past the scary headlines and discover that it is one story repeated endlessly. Once again, the internet serving as the global village rumor mill. We can relax somewhat in that reports from places like Malaysia, India and California do not mention the local reindeer, so they must be OK.

All of this attention and alarm arises from one report about one place: Svalbard (Arctic islands belonging to Norway). Moreover, the animals are not going extinct yet, rather a decline of 12% of adult body weight has been observed over the last 30 years. Project that out to the end of the century though…

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