Opinion: Bushfire Crisis Gives Mum a Dose of Climate Change Reality


My daughter fell asleep gripping my hand in fear last night.

“Please stay with me mummy I’m scared,” she said as I held her tight.

Her school is one of hundreds closed as a precaution today.

We live less than 100m from the National Park on Sydney’s northern beaches. Bushland surrounds the kids’ school. No fires are currently in the area, but the school has closed as they could not guarantee the children’s safety in the event of a bushfire today.

At first, the kids thought the news was exciting. It took a few minutes for reality to sink in.

This never happens and that’s actually kind of freaky,” my son said.

“Welcome to climate change,” I replied. It was a flippant remark and one that we then had to discuss in addition to enacting our bushfire safety and evacuation plan.

The debate was on the news that evening sparking further discussion. We read the Glen Innes Mayor’s opinion piece and listened to the Deputy Prime Minister’s comments. My son has decided that he is a raving leftie and that’s OK.

That night we packed our bags and cleared the leaves from outside the house. “Are you scared?”, my husband asked. I thought: “no, I’m actually angry“.

When we talked about today, the kids were quick to point out that schoolchildren were told to go back to school when they wanted to protest against climate change inaction. Now kids are pulled out of school “because of climate change“.

“It doesn’t really seem fair,” they said.

climate change protests in London
Schoolchildren protest against climate change inaction. Photo: BigStock

No, it doesn’t. And as a mum, I don’t have the answers for them. They are entering into a scary new world where days like today could be their reality.

I’m entering a new world where I don’t know what to say to them about their future. Does their future mean they can’t go to a school surrounded by bushland? Is our house constantly at risk in the summer? Will one parent be pulled off work every time the heat and wind goes over the limit? How does that change society? Or the economy? Will we need even stronger building codes? Are we going to run short of water? And what will it look like when they want to have children?

They have all these questions and I don’t have any answers.

So yes, I am angry. I am angry because today feels like a dose of reality.  As the Glen Innes mayor said – This is a reality that scientists have been warning about for years. It’s a reality that kids walked out of school to protest about. They deserve their future. They deserve action. Regardless of whether you believe climate change is man-made or not (I’m not getting into that crazy debate), today shows we need to make some big decisions about the future so that we don’t have to keep pulling children away from their education. It’s only going to get hotter and drier.

“It doesn’t seem fair.”

Welcome to climate change. Is the reality harsh enough for you?

Stay safe out there everyone. Thoughts and prayers are not enough. I will be donating to disaster relief agencies today and checking in on my loved ones who are in the danger zone near Coffs Harbour.

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Avatar of Alison Godfrey

Alison Godfrey has worked as a journalist and editor for more than 20 years. She loves coffee, wine, skiing and spending time with her husband, two children and their dog. But she's still not sure about the cat. He's pretty cranky.

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