Australia’s animal life has revealed the disastrous effects of climate change as a heat wave rages over the nation. Australia heat wave in its South East region has had areas in the north of Adelaide reaching 49 Degrees Celsius (120 Degrees Fahrenheit). Unsurprisingly, the heat wave and drought have caused mass animal deaths which have come to plague the country. More than 90 wild horses were found dead of dehydration in the outback, large amounts of bats have died and around a million fish have been found floating in river banks. Yet, these environmental challenges transcend Australia’s fauna, people are being brought to hospitals in large numbers because of the extreme heat. These events prove the severity of climate change and the drastic change needed to slow future effects.
Last week rangers found 90 dead horses in a dried up watering hole in the outback. The incident was reported when locals noted the animals missing from the area. According to the BBC, a local resident said the watering hole is usually there, once it dried up the “horses had nowhere to go.” Central Land Council Director David Ross said in a statement “with climate change well and truly upon us, we expect these emergencies to occur with increasing frequency and nobody is truly prepared and resourced to respond to them.” Furthermore, in two days one-third of Australia’s spectacled fruit bats were reportedly wiped out. The Western Sydney University estimated around 23,000 died between November 26-27. This is due to the fact that this bat species is unable to survive at temperatures above 42 Degrees Celsius. Around 1 Million fish are also estimated to have died in New South Wales, according to the BBC, a “cold snap and drought in the area killed an algae bloom, draining oxygen from the river.” The effects of climate change in Australia were felt across animal groups and prove that furthering environmental policies, and remaining committed to cutting CO2 emissions has become decisively imperative.
According to the BBC, The Australian Bureau of Meteorology stated, “Alice Springs, near where the horses were found, temperatures have exceeded 42 Degrees Celsius for almost two weeks – more than 6 degrees above January’s typical average.” As Justin Welbergen, an ecologist and President of the Australian Bat Society said regarding the bat deaths: “This sort of event has not happened in Australia this far north since European settlement.” However, not everyone believes that the weather directly affected the fish so drastically. Maryanne Slattery, Senior Water Researcher with the Australia Institute believes the government is solely to blame. Slattery stated, “It is clear what has caused the Darling River fish kill – mismanagement and repeated policy failure,[..] To blame the fish kill on the drought is a cop-out, it is because water releases were made from the lakes when this simply shouldn’t have happened.” The government is currently working to try to stave off these disastrous effects. As stated in the Guardian, “The state government says it is considering options to help resolve the water crisis in the western New South Wales town of Walgett, including installing a desalination system for the town’s bore water supply.” This is imperative considering the threatening realities of our climate. Findings by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change believe we only have until the year 2030 to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. In order to do this, global CO2 emissions would have to be cut 45% by 2030.
Currently, around 70,000 people are protesting in Brussels, Belgium for their government and the EU to further fight climate change. The Prime Minister of Australia, Scott Morrison, should hear these pleas and revise his country’s pledge to cut carbon emission. Especially considering Australia’s current prospectus. Matt Drum, the managing director of Ndevr [environmental organizations which track emission], said: “if emissions continued at their current rate, Australia would miss the target by a cumulative 1.1bn tonnes.”
These events threatening Australian wildlife will hopefully propagate a wake-up call for national leaders to realize the severity of the issue which is plaguing their country and its ecosystem. “There’s one issue that will define the contours of this century more dramatically than any other, and that is the urgent threat of a changing climate” Brack Obama’s words have never ringed more true for Australia.