A NEW REPORT has found green turtles, ringtail possums and an iconic black cockatoo face a common threat that is becoming more menacing by the year – climate change.
“Australia is home to more than a million species of plants and animals yet our track record on conservation is woeful; climate change is making it even harder to protect them,” said Chief Climate Councillor, Professor Tim Flannery.
The new Climate Council report finds it is not just our favourite animals, but our favourite places that are suffering as a result of climate change, including Kakadu National Park where rising sea levels are affecting freshwater wetlands.
“The places that Australians identify with and the wildlife that they cherish are suffering because of intensifying climate change,” said Professor Flannery.
“Australians are living with climate change right now. This latest report follows unprecedented spring bushfires in NSW and Queensland where we have seen blazes ripping through world heritage rainforest areas that don’t normally burn,” said Professor Flannery.
“We need to take a far bolder approach to conservation to ensure our ecosystems are as resilient as possible to worsening extreme weather,” said Professor Flannery.
- Sea levels in northern Australia are currently rising at about twice the global average. This is threatening wetlands in Kakadu National Park where saltwater intrusion into the iconic freshwater wetlands is already evident.
- The Carnaby’s black cockatoo is very susceptible to heat stress and climate change is bringing more intense heatwaves. The cockatoo is already endangered and climate change makes its future even more precarious.
- Green turtles are in grave danger because the animals hatching in the northern Great Barrier Reef are 99% female due to warming. The complete ‘feminisation’ of the population may occur in the very near future with potentially disastrous consequences.
- Australia’s high greenhouse gas emissions are contributing to increasingly severe changes in the climate system, which means further deterioration of our environment is inevitable.
Australia not only has the dubious honour of being the continent with one of the highest rates of species extinctions, we now hold the first record of a mammalian extinction due to climate change.
The Bramble Cay melomys was a native rodent found on an island in the Torres Strait.
Surveys have revealed the island has been repeatedly inundated by storms, worsened by rising sea levels. The last native animal simply drowned.
“No active steps were taken to protect the Bramble Cay melomys and earlier this year the Environment Minister finally acknowledged – via a media release – that it had become extinct,” said Professor Flannery.
“The Federal Government is standing by while Australia’s unique ecosystems and wildlife are decimated. We must drastically reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and accelerate the transition to clean and affordable renewable energy and storage technologies,” said Professor Flannery.
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Header image credit: Green turtle hatchlings. Credit: © Violeta Jahnel Brosig, Dreamstime.com