That line, delivered by Peter Marshall, Secretary of the United Firefighters Union [Victoria Branch] made the crowd at the Climate Change Rally roar its approval, and I yelled right along with them.
Marshall went on to say that in decades past, firefighters would have to deal with just one major fire event every ten years or so. Since 2002 however, there have been NINE major events. They all know that things have changed. They all know that their jobs have become much harder, despite new technology. And they all know that things are going to get even worse if something isn’t done about climate change.
Interestingly, David Packham, an expert on fire behaviour, doesn’t believe the incidence of more frequent, hotter bushfires is because of climate change. He believes it is down to nothing but fuel loads.
Now I have great respect for David Packham, and as a layperson, I agree that fuel loads play a critical role in bushfires, but fuel loads can’t explain the frequency of other, catastrophic natural events around the world. And I do think climate has more than a little to do with the dangers we now face every summer – because I’m old enough to remember the weather patterns we used to have. Maybe some of you will remember as well.
As a child of six I have a very vivid memory of the day the everlasting heat finally broke with a massive thunderstorm. I remember because I, along with my parents, and most of the people on our street, rushed out to dance in the rain. That was in 1959.
Then again at about 16 or 17, I remember lying in bed under the open window, praying for a breath of cool air so I could get some sleep before my exam the following morning. I didn’t get my wish.
The thing to note here is that back then, neither we nor many other people owned fans, much less air-conditioners. Sometimes it got incredibly hot, but most of the time summer was bearable, and going down to the beach was fun.
Maybe I’ve grown soft in my old age, but I’m pretty sure I couldn’t survive without cooling of some sort these days. And I certainly worry about bushfires a whole lot more. The world I knew is changing, fast, and the future promises not relief but more of the same.
That fear for the future was echoed by a lot of other people at the rally on Sunday too.
When I realised that I was effectively a roving reporter for my blog, I gathered up my courage and started talking to people. The three ladies in the picture below were all roughly my age, and they were happy to tell me why they were at the rally.
One of the ladies talked about her fears for her grandchildren. The other two expressed similar concerns for the future, and were determined to do what they could to ensure that something was done about Climate Change. The sense of urgency was palpable, despite the pristine blue skies and glorious sunshine.
Looking around me I saw people from every walk of life and every age bracket. If you look closely at the pictures in my previous post, you will see babies and young children, teenagers and young adults, people in their 30’s and 40’s, and lots of people like me. I even saw one placard that read Baby Boomers for Climate Action. Trust me, we Boomers were out in force, and I felt quite at home.
Sadly, a rally of 30,000 people out of a total population of roughly 4 million is not going to make Tony Abbott lose much sleep. Even if we double that figure to factor in the people who wanted to come but couldn’t, that’s still only 60,000. Again, not enough people power to force any government to rethink its position. That is the bad news.
The good news is that we true believers got to see each other, and the seeing was uplifting. I came away from the rally feeling energized by the knowledge that I wasn’t just some mad dog barking away all by myself. Whether my efforts do any real good is moot, but perhaps the combination of lots of small efforts like mine will make a difference. While there’s life there’s hope. 🙂
And perhaps you out there will find yourselves motivated as well. As one of the speakers at the rally said, if every household in Australia invested in solar power, our reliance on dirty coal would be broken, and we’d save money as well. It’s good to dream. 🙂