Koalas ‘Functionally Extinct’ After Australia Bushfires Destroy 80% Of Their Habitat

Hearing Explores Resilience to Climate-Related Natural Disasters

With climate change implicated in a growing number of natural disasters such as floods and wildfires, members of Congress and witnesses at a 20 November congressional hearing called for stronger mitigation and adaptation measures to curb the increasing social, economic, and environmental risks and costs associated with these disasters.

Those measures include the federal government providing more information about risks to people and structures from natural disasters, adopting stronger building codes, discouraging people from building in harm’s way, and strengthening flood insurance requirements.

“Stop growing the risk,” Craig Fugate, former administrator under President Barack Obama of the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency, testified at the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis hearing on “Creating a Climate Resilient America: Reducing Risks and Costs.”

“The climate has changed, and we are seeing more climate-driven extreme weather events. It is not something that is 30 years down the road. As a result, we need to start talking about adaptation. Time has run out for debate; action is required,” Fugate said.

Fugate pointed to a U.S. Global Change Research Program report that found, for instance, that…


Koalas ‘Functionally Extinct’ After Australia Bushfires Destroy 80% Of Their Habitat

PORT MACQUARIE, AUSTRALIA – NOVEMBER 19: An injured koala receives treatment after its rescue from a … [+]VCG via Getty Images
As Australia experiences record-breaking drought and bushfires, koala populations have dwindled along with their habitat, leaving them “functionally extinct.”

The chairman of the Australian Koala Foundation, Deborah Tabart, estimates that over 1,000 koalas have been killed from the fires and that 80 percent of their habitat has been destroyed.

Recent bushfires, along with prolonged drought and deforestation has led to koalas becoming “functionally extinct” according to experts.

Functional extinction is when a population becomes so limited that they no longer play a significant role in their ecosystem and the population becomes no longer viable. While some individuals could produce, the limited number of koalas makes the long-term viability of the species unlikely and highly susceptible to disease…


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