The fires were absolutely terrifying and they raged around us for months. Everything was tinder dry from the drought, and when the fires came on a friday night the sky was so red and the wind was hot and wild. It really felt like the end of the world.
Way Way, NSW
I live on a few acres on the mid-north coast of NSW with my partner, our young son, and a menagerie of chickens and geese. In rural areas, we have been hit by climate induced disaster after disaster. In the past few years we have rationed water through years of drought, evacuated our home in catastrophic bushfires and been flooded in 4 times.
We are lucky enough to live on a hill, but our neighbours had their homes flooded and their belongings destroyed. Huge numbers of farm animals drowned. A nearby village was evacuated as the sewerage system overflowed and leaked through the streets.
The fires were absolutely terrifying and they raged around us for months. Our shire was one of the first to burn in 2019. Everything was tinder dry from the drought, and when the fires came on a Friday night the sky was so red and the wind was hot and wild. It really felt like the end of the world. I remember climbing up on to the roof to clear gutters while my 5 year old packed his favourite toys into a suitcase. Homes were lost that week and many, many people were forced to evacuate as huge areas were designated danger zones. We were lucky enough to return and find our home intact, but the fires burned here for months. We were on edge for weeks and weeks, hardly sleeping, breathing smoke every day (terrible for anyone, but dangerous for an asthmatic like me), watching in horror as the disaster spread right across the country.
The impact of the fires was huge. Our whole community had been shaken. Our beaches were covered in ash. Our incredible local volunteer firefighters were exhausted and heartsick after seeing properties burn and wildlife killed. We pulled out of purchasing our dream property after years of waiting for a subdivision to be finalised, and instead bought a smaller property with better escape prospects should a fire come through. The fact that we could loose our one asset – our house, with all the hours of work renovating and establishing an orchard and veggie gardens, etc – in the next bushfire emergency is always at the back of our minds, and it’s something that keeps me up at night. But we don’t want to leave our community and our beautiful life here in this special place.
As a surfer who is in the water year-round, I’m also seeing the impacts of climate change on the ocean. The water temperature is noticeably warmer, and I worry about the impact this is having on ocean species and their sources of food. Our beaches are being ravaged by storms and polluted by floodwater. On the land, the wildlife and insects around us are changing too, with fires burning so much habitat, floods leaving the lower areas wet and boggy for the better part of 2 years, and the change in weather affecting bees and plants.
The thing that I find most infuriating is that our entire community is at risk, and so many other communities too, and it really didn’t have to be this way.
Governments have had decades to adapt their policies to avoid the worst effects of climate change, but instead they’ve done everything in their power to prop up the fossil fuel industry and business as usual. And now, Australians across the country are experiencing the consequences.
After years of delays and excuses, I want to see urgent action on climate change from this new government. And I want climate justice to be at the heart of policy and decision-making. I want a rapid decarbonisation of our economy and an end to fossil fuel subsidies. The coal has to stay in the ground, and trees must remain standing in our forests. I want to see a major commitment to renewables right across the country, but especially in rural areas. And I want to see funding that empowers Australians to be able to transition to solar and electric vehicles. Without this urgent shift, I am terrified about the emergencies we face in our lifetime, and the future our son will inherit.
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We should not have to live in fear of bushfires. It is becoming all year round now, the possibility of losing our home and our life in a bushfire.Read my story
People all across Australia are being harmed by climate change. These are some of their stories.