It’s finally happened. The first animal extinction directly caused by climate change goes down in the history books. The Bramble Cay melomys is a small Australian rat that has officially been declared extinct.
It is the first mammal to go extinct due to “human-induced climate change” according to the Australian government. Previously the animal was listed as endangered, but after no sightings of the mammal for 10 years, it was deemed extinct on February 18th, 2019.
Why Did It Go Extinct
The choice to call it extinct was not taken lightly. A study was conducted to confirm if the mammal was indeed extinct and in a report from 2016, no evidence of the mammal being alive existed. Of course, this raises the question, why did it go extinct?
Blaming climate change for it isn’t very accurate. Did the higher temperatures kill it? Did its food source migrate somewhere else? There are a lot of possibilities, but this is directly caused by rising sea levels. The official cause of extinction is “Ocean Inundation” which means that as the ocean levels rose, the waves and high tides invaded the species habitat and destroyed it.
Although the habitat was destroyed, it’s also theorized the mammals were washed into the ocean where they may have drowned.
A Failure Of Conservation Efforts
This is seen as a resounding failure for Australia’s conservation efforts. The mammal was considered endangered as early as 1992 by the Queensland state government. This extinction highlights the lack of resources and effort on behalf of the Australian government to handle this matter.
The First of Many
Many mammals and sea creatures alike are being endangered due to climate change. Sea creatures, in particular, are feeling the effects of warmer oceans first hand. This is forcing many fish to relocate, which in turn disrupts the food chain. Not only is global warming to blame, but plastic pollution is endangering the oceans as well.
Mammals are not fairing any better, as seen with this case of extinction. They are being ravaged by extreme weather conditions and their habitats are slowly but surely being permanently damaged. Not only is climate change endangering them, but deforestation is also directly destroying their habitats on a large scale.
Many forget about insects, but it was recently discovered that insect populations are on the decline. In fact, 40% of insects are becoming endangered by the changing weather conditions.
The Next Mass Extinction May Be Here
Throughout history, there have been multiple periods where large amounts of animals and plants became extinct. This is known as mass extinction and five major events have been the cause. Scientists have theorized that the sixth mass extinction will be due to climate change.
Only immediate action will have any chance of preventing further permanent damage to the planet.