Climate Change’s Cost – Koalas Veer Toward Extinction

February 11, 2022

The heart ripping footage of a tiny koala in an inferno landscape is an archetypical image of the climate crisis. Now the tiny bears on on the endangered species list.

New York Times:

The Australian government on Friday declared the koala an endangered species, as drought, bush fires, disease and habitat loss have drastically reduced the numbers of an animal that is an emblem of the country’s unique wildlife.

The announcement, by the country’s environment minister, came two years after a parliamentary inquiry predicted that koalas could be extinct by 2050 without urgent government intervention.

Reclassification from vulnerable to endangered does not require the Australian government to take any special action. But it separately announced that it would adopt a recovery plan for the koala issued by the country’s environmental department.

That plan would aid the creation of laws protecting koalas and their natural woodland habitats. Additionally, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced last month that the government would commit 50 million Australian dollars ($35.7 million) over four years to koala recovery and conservation efforts.

The plight of the koala gained global attention in 2019 when bush fires raged over millions of acres in Australia, blackening the animal’s habitats. A report commissioned by the World Wildlife Fund-Australia estimated that 60,000 koalas had been “killed, injured or affected in some way.”

In response, the Australian government committed 18 million Australian dollars ($12.8 million) to be split between restoring the koala’s habitats and investing in koala health research.

In 2020, W.W.F.-Australia, the International Fund for Animal Welfare and the Humane Society International collectively nominated the animal for listing as an endangered species. The groups found that koala populations in the states of Queensland and New South Wales had decreased by 50 percent or more since 2001.

It’s unclear how many koalas remain. Efforts to count the animals, which are continuing, have proven extremely difficult.

While the animal welfare groups welcomed the Australian government’s actions announced on Friday, others said that key problems — specifically land clearing, deforestation and resulting habitat loss — had been neglected.

3 Responses to “Climate Change’s Cost – Koalas Veer Toward Extinction”

  1. Wildfires as a rule are not caused bij climate or change but by people who set fire to the place. This goes for most fires and probably also for the fires in Australia. But it is so much easier to blame climate change. It is unstoppable and nothing you can do about it. Very convienent to blame climate change. It wont deny it.

    • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

      Maybe you should ask the wildfire experts at CalFire why the fires are so much bigger now than they used to be, including the fast-moving “crown fires” fed by drought- and heat-stressed* trees (instead of the forest-floor fires that burn through natural ground litter). Why are sequoias, famously fire-resistant in the past, showing stress and more damage from fire?

      The US Southwest, the area north of the Mediterranean Sea and most of Australia are facing increasing aridification, as predicted decades ago by climate scientists (including Dr. Syukuro Manabe). The massive record fires in Siberia are triggered by record heat.

      Healthy trees do not catch fire that quickly and are more spark-resistant. Even deliberately set fires that once would have been either self-limiting or readily contained now result in thousands of acres more burned.

      *The heat levels at night are climbing, too, and vegetation and soils are not getting the relief they used to get.

    • greenman3610 Says:

      All kinds of theories among climate deniers

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