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New report highlights the increased threat of climate change on Australian wildlife

New report highlights the increased threat of climate change on Australian wildlife
September 18, 2019

A new Climate Council report has found green turtles, ringtail possums and an iconic black cockatoo are threatened by climate change, with threats to wildlife becoming more menacing by the year.

Chief Climate Councillor, Professor Tim Flannery advised “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.”

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.

Professor Flannery added "the places that Australians identify with and the wildlife that they cherish are suffering because of intensifying climate change.

“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.

“We need to take a far bolder approach to conservation to ensure our ecosystems are as resilient as possible to worsening extreme weather.” 

Key Findings of the Report

• 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, but it now holds the first record of a mammalian extinction due to climate change. 

The Bramble Cay melomys (pictured above) 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 with indications that the last native animal simply drowned.

Professor Flannery added "no active steps were taken to protect the Bramble Cay melomys and earlier this year the (Federal) Environment Minister finally acknowledged - via a media release - that it had become extinct.

“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.”

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16th May 2019 - University of Queensland predicts climate change could cause the extinction of 26 species

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26th December 2018 - More than 50 Australian plant species face extinction within 10 years

7th September 2018 - Land clearance to cause Koala extinction in NSW by 2050

22nd May 2018 - QTIC event to launch tourism industry climate change response plan

18th April 2018 - Massive extinction of Great Barrier Reef coral during 2016 marine heatwave

17th April 2018 - Bilbies return to NSW National Parks after near 100-year extinction

17th March 2018 - Fishermen fined $17,000 for taking endangered turtles and dugong from Queensland marine park

24th March 2017 - Cairns Jurassica Project aims to conserve and preserve some of Australia’s most endangered species

19th February 2017 - QPWS rangers play a role in catching endangered species on camera

19th November 2016 - Central Melbourne’s trees need to adapt to climate change

27th June 2016 - Climate change a massive threat to global heritage and tourism

23rd May 2016 - Marine attractions highlight conservation efforts on World Turtle Day

19th November 2014 - Criminal wildlife poaching driving endangered species to brink of extinction

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