Are we in a world that change can fix?

My post from last month came at a time when I felt so relaxed and ready to take on 2021, so today I wanted to focus on some more pressing issues.

Acknowledging the impact

Like the bushfires that very recently swept across Perth suburbs in Western Australia. Almost 100 homes were lost as well as a huge amount of wildlife. This is all too familiar with us residents in the east, as we were reminded of the devastation of the Victoria/NSW fires not so long ago. With recent findings revealing that logging increases bush flammability for up to 30 years, and that it is 7 times more likely for the canopy of a forest that has been logged to burn, we have to wonder, what is being done to counter this? We can not simply hope that things will change, and that Australia’s environmental future will somehow be spared, we have to act on it; we have to actually do something about it.

Protecting biodiversity

Which brings me to this article from The Conversation AU, ‘To fix Australia’s environment laws, wildlife experts call for these 4 changes – all are crucial’. The post looks at steps that need to be taken to reverse Australia’s current track record of protecting biodiversity, including:

  1. Setting standards
  2. Greater government accountability
  3. Decent funding; and
  4. Increase ecological knowledge.

It is an interesting article and I encourage you to have a read but for now I want to reflect on the last point, the need to increase ecological knowledge, again coming back to my point of adapting to changes occurring around us, rather than hoping. The article suggests expert committees are a requirement in increasing ecological knowledge and really learning about our threatened species and ecological communities so that we can fully invest in forming active recovery plans. We should be paying more attention to this issue, as it affects the environment in which we exist, yet for the majority of the population, contemplating such an issue is just too hard. Why worry about these complex issues when the immediate future is at stake?

In Melbourne right now

Right now here in Melbourne, we are 4 days in to a 5 day lockdown. This is the first time Victoria has tried such a short lockdown in an effort to combat a recent COVID outbreak, and we are all waiting to see if it has paid off so that we can return to the lives we were getting so used to again.

As I said last month, I think this year will be a huge case of trial and error. Even though the vaccine/s are in the process of being rolled out across the country as we speak, it does not mean it is going to abruptly come to an end. It felt strange yet familiar as we suddenly plunged into lockdown at 12pm on Friday night, all plans for the weekend out the window. Which is why this year at least; our plans need to remain as flexible as they can. Certainty is not something we can be sure of, so we need to adapt and whatever we do, we can’t forget the lessons learned in 2020.

Hope is a funny thing. Once we get a glimpse of it, it can be very hard to turn our focus to anything else, but we need to remember that we are still a world that change can fix to some extent. Whether it’s our health or the environment or something else altogether, we need to be able to properly identify the challenges around us; often times, the situation we have put ourselves in. We all have the ability to improve and invest in making a difference to future outcomes, both health and environment related, so let’s make an effort to properly understand what’s going on around us.

Our bushfire crisis

A smokey city

The bushfires ravaging Australia are beyond catastrophic.

A significant portion of the country is on fire and the Australian community is rallying together to do what we can. Whether it’s donating food, money or helping out in the devastated regions, there are a lot of people out there striving to make a difference.

On Tuesday 6th January I went to work in Melbourne CBD and as soon as I stepped off the train, I was hit by the coat of smoke that covered the city. I walked through it on my way to work, and on my lunch break I watched a violinist play passionately, with an almost colourless backdrop. As the afternoon went on, I noticed the cloud of smoke gathering around my building, slowly closing us in.

The people

Firefighters and residents alike are experiencing the trauma first-hand. These people are in the front line, defending their land against notorious flames. Firefighters from all over have come together to save our soil.

After learning from the unfortunate events of Black Saturday back in 2009, residents seem to understand the severity of these fires and the likelihood of beating them. People are being told to evacuate, it is not safe to stay, and, in most cases, they are doing just that.

The animals

The loss of native Australian fauna is absolutely devastating. Our koala population has reduced to 5%, which leaves me lost for words. The animals have a very low chance of survival, and those that have been burned are likely to be euthanised. There are not enough resources to cope.

I saw a headline about the Mallacoota fires recently, that described the events of December 30, the sound the koalas made as they burned. It brought tears to my eyes as I thought of these beautiful creatures suffering.

The rest of Australia

If you can donate, please do – places like the Red Cross and the CFA need as much support as they can get. You can also donate directly to the World Wildlife Foundation – Australia, where proceeds will be put towards re-homing animals affected by the fires.

We can hope with all our might that the fires are over soon, but it is only just the start of summer.

Our “leaders” really need to face the facts and think about what they aren’t doing to save our country at the expense of our environment, our people and our livelihoods.

I read a powerful article yesterday that called out the need for Australia’s climate change policies to change urgently, labelling the Government’s position as a ‘destructive stance’. I couldn’t agree more.

The country is devastated. Coming back from this won’t be an easy feat. In a couple of days, the heat is expected to hit us again, and there is a high chance that some of the biggest fires will merge. There are leaders at state level doing as much as they can in providing support to communities who need it. But what is missing is a national strategy to work towards the prevention of events like this, instead of solutions for the damages that the lack of prevention has caused.