A personal perspective, from a wild koala researcher.

I’ve been working with wild koalas most of my life. For the first 15 years, it was pure joy. The last 13 years has been a mixture of sadness, desperation, fear, and brief moments of joy.

Climate change is killing my life’s work.

I first noticed that my wild koala population was declining before 2005. I didn’t know why – there were plenty of trees, the climate was mild*. Then in 2006 we had a bushfire rip through our koala community and everything stopped for me.

It took me 2 years to recover from deep sadness, from breaking down in tears for no reason. We started again, in the You Yangs, but I was terrified of fire. All I could think about was how to prevent that soul-eating, happiness-destroying event from ever happening again.

Its been 13 years, and we haven’t had a fire. But we’re living through a catastrophe that I couldn’t have imagined.

Greens will act on climate change

..

Climate change is killing the thing I love best.

In 2008 a scientific paper came out that showed what was killing my koalas. It was climate change. Clear and unequivocal. Carbon dioxide is stripping the nutrition out of the leaves. Heat and dryness are reducing the water content. Koalas will starve.

“I’m sure we’ll see koalas disappearing from their current range even though we don’t see any change in tree species or structure of the forests.“ Emeritus Professor Ian Hume, University of Sydney, 2008

In 2009 – 2010 we lost a third of our wild You Yangs koalas. It was the fourteenth year of the worst drought in Australia’s history. Once again, I was helpless to save them.

We had a reprieve in late 2010 with decent rains. But we are back in drought, worse than before, because the forest never fully recovered.

Wild Koalas need the Greens
Young male koala Lluvia stares at a drying waterhole in the You Yangs

When I walk through the forest now I see dying trees. Hundreds of them. Dying from dryness. I can’t water them – they are 100 to 400 year old eucalypts, with vast root systems underground.

In 2016 we started planting trees in river systems around the You Yangs. They will only take five years to grow big enough to feed a koala. If we plant many thousands of trees, the koalas of the You Yangs will move down the gullies and live there. It might give them another 5 or 10 years.

By 2030 the climate needs to be starting to improve, or else my koalas won’t make it, no matter how many trees we plant. That means we need to stop emissions today.

In Australia, our only hope for wild koalas is The Greens, in this election.

The Greens will take action on emissions.  The Greens will listen to the scientists who will tell them how to take action on climate change.  They will do that because they are not corrupt.  They’re not perfect, but they are not corrupt.

Greens are not corrupt

Please Australia, stop quibbling over perfection. No political party is perfect. Stop worrying about ‘wasted votes’. There are no wasted votes – every vote is noticed by the winner, especially by the ones that win by a narrow margin. Stop worrying about who’s a vegan, or immigration policies, or death duties – none of these will matter on a dead planet.

Greens will save koalas

Please don’t tell me you’re not interested in politics. That is what the bad guys want you to say, because then they can rely on you to do nothing.

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good (people) to do nothing” Edmund Burke, 1795

There’s no time to do nothing. There’s no time.

 

{note from the Author: I don’t do this lightly.  I don’t want to tell anyone how to vote.  But this has gone way past politeness.  I have looked climate change in the face, and it is more terrifying than you could believe.}

*actually the climate wasn’t that mild – it was 8 years into the Millenium Drought, but it seemed okay at the time

 

Professor Ian Hume’s research: https://sydney.edu.au/news/84.html?newsstoryid=2269

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