Thursday, June 23, 2016
Victoria's Green Matters - 23rd June 2016
Climate change caused by human behaviour not only affects humans but has caused the first recorded extinction of a mammal anywhere in the world. This animal is a small rodent called the Bramble Cay melomys, also called the mosaic-tailed rat, which lived on the tiny island of Bramble Cay, off the north coast of Queensland, Australia.
The island, only 3 metres above sea level at most, has regularly been covered by rising seas, destroying the animals’ habitat and killing them. The area of land above the high tide level is estimated to have decreased from about 10 acres in 1998 to 6 acres in 2014: 97% of the habitat has been lost in just 10 years.
Around the world, average sea level has risen by almost 8 inches between 1901 and 2010. This is an unequalled rate in any period in the past 6,000 years but around Bramble Cay in the Torres Strait, sea level seems to have risen at almost twice the global average between 1993 and 2014. This tiny island is also the most important breeding ground for green turtles and some sea birds.
Scientists say that other species that are constrained to small, low lying islands or those with very tight environmental needs will probably be the first to go. A report in 2015 found that one sixth of the world’s species faced extinction as a result of climate change and scientists believe that the world is on the verge of the sixth mass extinction.