Australia’s coalmining is probably more damaging to their native species than feral cats

Australians are famous for blaming the approximate 2 million feral cats on their continent for the loss of millions of animals of native species primarily marsupials and mammals. A lot of effort has gone into eradicating the ‘pest’ of feral cats from the continent in order to protect small native mammals and marsupials. Thousands of articles been written about the troublesome feral cat; a non-native species that taxes the best brains in Australia in their effort to get rid of them anyway possible no matter how cruel.

Open coal mine emitting methane is huge quantities

Open coal mine emitting methane is huge quantities. Picture in public domain.

While they are doing this Australia continues to be the largest coal exporter in the world by value with associated methane leaks which has been assessed as 80 times the heating power of carbon dioxide over a 20-year period.

A fresh assessment of the methane emissions from Australian coalmines is not based upon how much coal is produced but by measuring how much gas actually leaks from mines. Dr. Sabina Assan, the lead scientists in a recent report stated: “What we found was that the methane leaking from Australian coalmines causes almost double the climate impact every year of all of Australia’s cars. That’s a really massive climate impact before we even start to think about the carbon dioxide emissions released from burning coal”.

This is the coal that Australia exports to countries like China where it is burnt, which warms up the planet. This is a double whammy effect and Australia is responsible for it. Methane is a byproduct of coal extraction. It is released in open pit mining when coal seams are broken up. In underground mining it is vented deliberately in order to reduce the risk of explosions underground.

Australia is contributing significantly to global warming. The Great Dividing Range (Eastern Highlands) is an expansive collection of mountain ranges, plateaus and rolling hills in the east of the country. Australian researchers have said that more than 20 native animals will disappear from the Great Dividing Range before the end of the century if global emissions continue at the current rate.

And nearly half of Australia’s native plants are under threat from climate change. The chief botanist at the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney, Dr. Brett Summerell, tells us that “Australia is a biodiversity hotspot since any 85% of our flora is endemic, so it occurs naturally nowhere else around the world. So, if we lose a species here, it’s gone forever”.

He says that rising temperatures and altered rainfall patterns are significantly impacting Australia’s flora negatively as it leads to increased disease and pest invasions.

Summerell was involved in a nationwide study published early on in 2022 which examined 2.5 million Australian herbaria specimens. They concluded that 47% of the country’s native vegetation is potentially at risk from rising temperatures by 2070.

The administrators and politicians of Australia should stop killing feral cats for the loss of native species and instead look to themselves for a complete change in how they run their economy. It is clear to me that the politicians of Australia are sacrificing conservation at the altar of business and in order to divert attention from human failings they are putting the blame on the feral cat. And they should start a massive and slow process of mass TNR instead of killing.

Ironically the presence of the feral cat on that continent is, of course, due to an earlier human failing of catastrophic proportions. The feral cat is but the messenger. The real perpetrator is the human.

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