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Global warming is becoming more and more irreversible and the disastrous consequences of all this climate change on the planet go far beyond rising sea levels. Many animals are losing their natural habitats and have joined the IUCN Red List forever, one of them being the charismatic koala.
Because it is an animal with restricted habits and difficult to adapt, the koala can go extinct immediately, while cockroaches, mice and microbes can dominate the planet.
Why will the koala be one of the first to disappear from the earth?
As is well known, and according to research published by BBC News, the main source of food for koalas is eucalyptus leaves. The big problem is that these leaves are becoming less and less nutritious due to the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere.
In other words, climate change increases the risk of starvation for koalas.
Additionally, koalas have low genetic diversity, which makes this a concerning trait when it comes to extinction risk. This species (Phascolarctos cinereus), considered by scientists as “specialized” to live in high-latitude mountain and forest habitats, as well as those that live in clean environments, is one of the most susceptible to extinction.
The same is not true for deer in the United States, for example, as deer are considered "early-successional" species that researchers say can adapt to disturbed environments, including climate change. Researchers also call these species "mobile generalists" because they can move and adapt to different environments.
However, this adaptability can be costly for other ecosystem species. In the case of plants, for example, weeds commonly found on the road can be much more resistant compared to other plants.
All of this is due to human interventions, with the increasing increase in urban areas. As a consequence, it can be seen that the most resistant species are those that can live in artificial environments. For example: parks, urban gardens, agricultural areas, farms, tree plantations, etc.
The strong will survive, not the pretty
According to experts, the animals that can adapt to these environments are small, preferably endodermal, omnivorous and capable of living in extreme conditions (thus, as we said before, cockroaches, rats and microbes could be the great heirs of what will remain from the earth).
This concludes once again that the future of fluffy and less resistant species, such as koalas, depends solely on us. That is why it is so necessary to reduce greenhouse gases, protect biodiversity, restore connectivity between habitats, reduce pollution and extract land, among other measures that must be taken urgently.
Furthermore, the main action on our part to prevent our planet from giving itself to cockroaches and microbes is certainly related to the breaking down of political barriers and this fight will only be won with our union.
By Eliane A Oliveira, article in Portuguese