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You will never see one. You might not want to, but up until a decade ago, there was at least a chance to see the Bramble Kay Melomys, even if most people didn’t want to.

Because it was a rat — the mosaic-tailed rat, to be exact, the only mammal species that called Australia’s Great Barrier Reef its natural home.

The species lived on Bramble Key, a small coral cay that, in total, measures 150 metres across and 340 metres long.

Between 1993 and 2014, the sea level in the area rose by almost 40 centimetres, and increased storm action has seen the cay inundated with salt water during storms.

Researchers were blunt about what caused the extinction: “Significantly, this probably represents the first recorded mammalian extinction due to anthropogenic climate change,” they wrote in a report that appeared just over a week ago on an Australian government website.

A report in the journal Science in 2015 suggested that’s a fate that many more species will face. In fact, scientists argue that one-sixth of the world’s animal species face a real risk of extinction because of climate change.

And still we’re all slow to take meaningful action and a rump of climate change deniers still simply aren’t willing to see what is happening right in front of their faces.

That, despite the fact that ocean warming in the Northeast Atlantic alone is clearly changing the patterns of aquatic life. While fishing operations in different provinces battle over access to quotas for northern shrimp, scientists are pointing out that the shrimp themselves are decreasing, especially along the southern edge of their range.

“Recruitment of northern shrimp is related to both spawning biomass and ocean temperatures, with higher spawning biomass and colder temperatures producing stronger recruitment. Ocean temperatures in western Gulf of Maine shrimp habitat have increased over the past decade and reached unprecedented highs in 2011 and 2012. While 2014 and 2015 temperatures were cooler, temperatures are predicted to continue to rise as a result of climate change. This suggests an increasingly inhospitable environment for northern shrimp,” the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission reports.

“Northern shrimp stocks in other areas of the world (Greenland, Flemish Cap, Grand Banks) have also seen decreasing trends in abundance and recruitment, providing additional evidence that environmental conditions are impacting northern shrimp across their range.”

As well as being a valuable catch, northern shrimp are a critical food source for other species. But it’s not just shrimp. Other species are changing too, in range and number, as ocean temperatures rise.

But hey, as long as a portion of the population continues to argue that, “there’s nothing to see here,” we can just chug along, living the way we want to, regardless of how wasteful and dangerous it is.

And let our children reap the climate whirlwind.

 

Because it was a rat — the mosaic-tailed rat, to be exact, the only mammal species that called Australia’s Great Barrier Reef its natural home.

The species lived on Bramble Key, a small coral cay that, in total, measures 150 metres across and 340 metres long.

Between 1993 and 2014, the sea level in the area rose by almost 40 centimetres, and increased storm action has seen the cay inundated with salt water during storms.

Researchers were blunt about what caused the extinction: “Significantly, this probably represents the first recorded mammalian extinction due to anthropogenic climate change,” they wrote in a report that appeared just over a week ago on an Australian government website.

A report in the journal Science in 2015 suggested that’s a fate that many more species will face. In fact, scientists argue that one-sixth of the world’s animal species face a real risk of extinction because of climate change.

And still we’re all slow to take meaningful action and a rump of climate change deniers still simply aren’t willing to see what is happening right in front of their faces.

That, despite the fact that ocean warming in the Northeast Atlantic alone is clearly changing the patterns of aquatic life. While fishing operations in different provinces battle over access to quotas for northern shrimp, scientists are pointing out that the shrimp themselves are decreasing, especially along the southern edge of their range.

“Recruitment of northern shrimp is related to both spawning biomass and ocean temperatures, with higher spawning biomass and colder temperatures producing stronger recruitment. Ocean temperatures in western Gulf of Maine shrimp habitat have increased over the past decade and reached unprecedented highs in 2011 and 2012. While 2014 and 2015 temperatures were cooler, temperatures are predicted to continue to rise as a result of climate change. This suggests an increasingly inhospitable environment for northern shrimp,” the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission reports.

“Northern shrimp stocks in other areas of the world (Greenland, Flemish Cap, Grand Banks) have also seen decreasing trends in abundance and recruitment, providing additional evidence that environmental conditions are impacting northern shrimp across their range.”

As well as being a valuable catch, northern shrimp are a critical food source for other species. But it’s not just shrimp. Other species are changing too, in range and number, as ocean temperatures rise.

But hey, as long as a portion of the population continues to argue that, “there’s nothing to see here,” we can just chug along, living the way we want to, regardless of how wasteful and dangerous it is.

And let our children reap the climate whirlwind.

 

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