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Why Melomys? Behind Our Name

It’s official- climate change claimed its first victim, the Melomys rubicola, also known as the Bramble Cay melomys or “the little brown rat.”

The tiny rodent was named after its home in Bramble Cay, at Australia’s northern tip of the Great Barrier Reef. It was about 6 inches long and could be singled out from other rat species by the mosaic pattern on its tail.

Australia’s Queensland state government declared the species extinct in February 2019. The news made headlines all over the world, reigniting conversations about climate change.

So, what led to the extinction of the Bramble Cay melomys? 

And why should you care?

Let’s look at the facts.

Extinction of the Bramble Cay melomys

Melomys Rubicola lived and bred in Bramble bay for thousands of years. The small island is 8.9 acres in size and lies less than ten feet above sea level. 

Bramble cay melomys Melomys rubicola. In 2016 declared extinct on Bramble cay, where it had been endemic, and likely also globally extinct, with habitat loss due to climate change being the root cause.
State of Queensland, CC BY 3.0 AU, via Wikimedia Commons

In the 70s, the rodent population was estimated to be in the hundreds. Sadly, numbers dropped to double digits over the next decade and were listed as “endangered” in 1992

Between 2004 and 2014, the cay was inundated by tropical storms caused by extreme weather events. The rising sea wiped out 97 percent of the land’s vegetation — the melomys’ only food source, resulting in dramatic habitat loss. Without its basic survival needs, the furry rodent died out.

The last sighting of the Bramble Cay melomys was reported by a fisherman in 2009. Subsequent searches of the island in 2014 and 2015 found no trace of the animal.

The loss of the Bramble Cay melomys is the first recorded mammalian extinction in the world due to human-caused climate change

How climate change affects sea levels

Global sea levels have risen about 8–9 inches since 1880, and the rate has accelerated over the last decade.

Human activities such as burning coal, gas, and other fossil fuels for energy have increased the atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases which trap the heat from the sun. 

This heat then causes thermal expansion of the oceans and melting of glaciers and ice sheets, leading to sea levels rising worldwide.

Higher sea levels cause dangerous storm surges, shoreline erosion, and permanent inundation in coastal land areas, destroying precious habitats and threatening the survival of endangered wildlife species.

The loss of the Bramble Cay melomys, the extensive wildfires, and extreme weather events are just the beginning.

The severe threat of climate change

The fate of the Bramble Cay melomys serves as a precautionary tale of the serious consequences of global warming if left unchecked. 

A 2015 study by the University of Connecticut found that climate change could drive the extinction of nearly 8 percent of plant and animal species

We, too, are not immune from the devastating consequences of climate change. The increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events could result in severe crop and livestock shortages bringing famine, political instability, and civil unrest worldwide.

Scientists say emission reduction is the most effective way to slow the pace of global warming, and we have less than two decades to turn things around.

Three-quarters of total global carbon emissions come from the largest industries – agriculture, manufacturing, and transportation. But we also create a significant carbon footprint from our daily activities such as driving, flying, shopping, cooling, heating, waste disposal, and more.

While companies should be held accountable for ensuring that their products don’t harm the planet, individual action still plays a crucial role (a leaked draft of the IPCC scientific report makes this apparent).Besides cutting back on nonessentials, and changing your lifestyle (eating less meat, flying less, etc), you can embrace an eco-friendly lifestyle and support brands committed to sustainability.

What you can do

Every product you purchase has a carbon footprint throughout its life cycle from extraction, production, transport, usage, and disposal. 

It’s up to you to make the most environmentally conscious choice or not.

One of the best ways you can protect the planet is by wearing sustainable clothing. So ditch fast fashion, one of the biggest polluters in the world, and cultivate a more sustainable closet.

Sustainable clothing is not only made of high-quality, eco-friendly materials that stand the test of time. It’s also ethically sourced, which means production strives to treat workers fairly.

So why the name “melomys”? A reminder of our mission

Here at melomys, we’re proud to provide affordable and sustainably made clothing. Also, we care about the planet, and that’s why we named our company in honor of the Bramble Cay melomys, the first species declared extinct due to human-caused climate change.

Our brand name is a reminder to ourselves and others about the importance of protecting the environment

We’re on a mission to make a difference, one garment at a time, by planting five trees for every purchase! Shop Now


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