I kept waiting for our house to burn down and was crying all the time. It felt like a dream but it wasn’t a dream.
South Coast, NSW
My name is Emma. I’m sixteen years old and I live on the south coast of New South Wales.
I’ve always been into nature and the environment. Growing up I used to get really upset when I saw a tree being cut down. Then we learned about climate change in year 7. I remember it being really scary – I thought the world was perfect but really it isn’t. I just thought the way we were living was fine but that was a real eye opener.
Climate change is becoming part of our lives now and affecting us directly. I was here when the bushfires happened – it was New Year’s Eve and the smoke was coming from the south and the north. The smoke got thicker and thicker as the day went on. I remember looking at Gulaga and it was just glowing. Everyone was banding together in town and just waiting. Eventually we went home but we couldn’t do anything because the power was out.
The next day when we woke up the sky was a dark red and the trees were black. It was surreal – I couldn’t tell what time it was. The wind kept changing direction – the Cobargo fires were coming towards us but we got lucky and the wind changed. Several times we evacuated to the golf course with all of our stuff until the threat had passed.
It lasted for months but it was such a blur – looking back it felt like three days. I kept waiting for our house to burn down and was crying all the time. It felt like a dream but it wasn’t a dream.
Seeing the aftermath and hearing how many animals were killed was devastating. I didn’t know if it would ever recover. Seeing the bush after the rains has been great, but it’s not the same.
Living through the fires has made me want to do more to protect the environment and stop climate change. Last week a group of us got together and picked up plastic on the beach. There’s so much microplastic – once you start looking you just see it everywhere. I’m also pushing my family to install solar panels and reduce our carbon footprint.
I’m concerned about climate change and more severe weather events happening. I want to be hopeful for the future but really it’s hard to be positive about things that I know are bad. The government runs the country – they should do something about it. It’s been too long.
Hundreds of people from across the country are sharing their stories to send a clear message to the Australian government - it's time for real action on climate change.
Every story appears as a point on this map. Click around to read how climate change is affecting our communities, and add your own story to the map.
I have been deeply affected emotionally by the trauma of the Black Summer bushfires. Two and a half years later, I still find it hard to talk about it without tears - and yet I want to talk about it.Read my story
People all across Australia are being harmed by climate change. These are some of their stories.