It’s 2020 and my writing mojo has gone. Burned out in the red hot rage of a madmaxian apocalypse of ash, smoke and furious, endless, fire.
The fires first came raging around my home town of Port Macquarie back in November 2019. The sky turned red as pyrocumulus storm clouds blocked the very light from the sun. As we choked on smoke and watched blackened gum leaves rain down on my backyard and local beach, black oily residue from the ash marked the high tide mark. Birds washed up on the shoreline, having dropped dead from the sky, exhausted from their attempt to outfly the flames. For weeks, the smell of acrid smoke permeated everywhere and everything. Lives were lost and property was turned to ash amid crumpled iron roofing.
This was just the overture to Australia’s climate change reckoning.
The scenes a few weeks later on NYE in Mallocoota – on the far south coast of NSW – were truly apocalyptic. Children in gas masks ferrying parents across a stygian sea, away from the roaring fires and blackened morning skies. Tourists huddling on beaches, trying in vain to escape the flames, waiting evacuation by the Royal Australian Navy. Volunteer firefighters dying as their massive firetruck was flipped over by a fire tornado.
I’m still astounded. A fucking fire tornado!
These are not normal days and it’s not over yet. This is the end of the beginning. It’s only January and the Australian fire season still has a couple of months to run.
Where next? What next?
Friends of mine live in old growth rainforest in Pappinbarra, NSW. Rainforest that has never burned until it finally did, starved of water and dried out by the long absence of rain, it burned like anything does when dry. Ancient rainforests in Northern NSW, my home state, burned and gone forever. Hundreds of millions of animal lives extinguished. Eco-systems untouched by fire for thousands of years that will never recover from this epic conflagration, their unique biodiversity gone forever.
Rainforests need rain and climate change is making Australia, already the driest continent on earth, drier still. We are running out of water. There are inland cities that measure their remaining water supply in months.
Our government, asleep at the wheel and so afraid of uttering the words ‘climate change’ cling to the belief that this is just a normal natural disaster. Except it isn’t. It’s not fucking normal. It’s not normal for rainforest to burn. It’s not normal for the navy to evacuate holiday makers in a real life scene from On The Beach.
Meanwhile, the Murdoch press remains intent on demonising anyone who dares make the link between drought, intense heat, unprecedented fires and climate change.
I fear for my country. I fear for what’s next. I have a burning rage inside me for the fools that can’t see the reality of climate change despite Australia’s great burning.
We are governed by ideological zeolots who are beholden to our coal and gas industry. Australia could be leading the world in our approach to climate change but instead the world looks on with pity as we burn and thirst and shovel coal into ships bound for India and China to maintain our illusory, comfortable lifestyle.
The lucky country’s luck has ran out and I cannot write anymore.