Monday, April 18, 2011

Koalas And Climate Change

ABC's Science Show Catalyst did a fascinating piece called Koala Heatwave. It turns out that climate change is bad for koalas in 2 ways.

First is heatwaves. Koalas get their moisture from the gum leaves they eat. In heatwaves, the leaves dry out and koalas literally die of thirst. Local heatwaves in late 2009 killed about one-quarter of koalas in a couple of weeks. Climate change (with it's longer and more frequent heatwaves) will obviously be bad news for the koala.

Second thing is food. As it is, leaves aren't great, but increased carbon dioxide makes them worse. It stimulates the leaves into producing more of the toxic chemicals, and at the same time creating less protein. Clearly not a good recipe for our friend the koala.

Of course a smart koala will walk around looking for a good tree with edible leaves. But while doing so he takes the two biggest risks a koala can take - dogs and cars.

All in all, it's another good reason to tackle climate change.

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