Summer in Australia is something I’ve always look forward to. After all, our national identity epitomizes sun bronzed people enjoying the beach. It is embedded in tourist minds. It’s a time when we go on holidays, and head outdoors. But for many Australians, summer 2019/2020 has been far from carefree.
Bush fires have been burning since September. Lives have been lost. Houses and livelihoods have been decimated in fires that burnt so hot they created their own weather systems.
On the east coast, more than 800 homes have been destroyed in bush fires since December. Behind those statistics is an anxious community. Just a few kilometres from where I live some over 25 homes and hundreds of storage sheds have been lost and farms have been razed along with the death of several people caught in the monstrosity of a fire storm and unable to escape.
Frankly I’m looking forward to summer ending. These disastrous fires have destroyed homes, flora and fauna (1-billion animals at last count) across the nation and although there has been welcome rain in some parts of the country the fire risk still remains and many people are just waiting for the inevitable to happen again and that is something that confounds your brain after a time.
It’s a constant on-edge feeling. I’ve never wanted summer to end, actually, but I think it’ll be just nice to get through to winter or get some rain and cooler weather. We’ve had days where the temperature has hovered around 45C for days on end (that’s 113 in the old money) . This summer has really changed Australia; it’s shown us what climate change might actually looks like.
Often when we talk about climate change, it is something that will happen in the future, something that happens to other people. But what we have seen this summer is that this is something that is here and now, and it does affect our way of life. I’m somebody who has grown to love an Australian summer and this summer has not been fun.
I’ve heard extraordinary stories of people their homes taken their children away from the fire zones simply to enable their children to breathe fresh air and not the polluted air that the fires have created. At one stage Sydney’s air quality was worse than that of Beijing and that is a very sad story. The only difference being that Beijing smog is man made.
This bush fire season has made some people reconsider where they live, particularly those living in bush fire prone areas – areas that were once seen as a retirement paradise or decent place to raise the children.
Early each morning I take my dog for a walk along with a few other people and for an hour we chat about life in general – the news, some idiot celebrity, a recipe we have found or the weather, mostly we bitch about how cold or how hot it is. These days we are yearning for those frosty mornings when the grass crunches beneath our feet. Roll on winter. I never thought I’d say that.