First it was the polar bear, now its the Koala. Both are threatened by climate change.  The bears are threatened by the rising level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere because it saps nutrients from the eucalyptus leaves they feed on.

According to Ian Hume, emeritus professor of biology at Sydney University, the amount of toxicity in the leaves of eucalyptus saplings rose when the level of carbon dioxide within a greenhouse was increased.

Hume presented his research on the effects of carbon dioxide on eucalyptus leaves to the Australian Academy of Science in Canberra yesterday.  Hume estimated that current levels of global carbon dioxide emissions would result in a noticeable reduction in Australia’s koala population in 50 years due to a lack of palatable leaves.

The Koalas existence is already quite fragile. They sleep for 20 hours a day and then have four hours to do everything else, including eating and mating.  “Koalas produce one young each year under optimal conditions, but if you drop the nutritional value of the leaves, it might become one young every three or four years,” Hume said.

20 hours sleep a day…. it’s a tough life…