Editorial: Bushfires, climate change and Australia’s long, hot Summer

It’s been a huge summer for Australia.

Living in Perth, I’ve been untouched by this season’s bushfires – apart from watching one in some scrub near our house, and breathing the smoke coming into the city from fires in nearby regions.

I’ve watched the situation play out online though. The devastation of lives lost, wildlife, livestock and properties burnt out. Then came the political outcry, and the concerns of climate change right  on our doorstep.

When I was a kid, climate change seemed like this far off problem that my children or grandchildren would have to deal with. I learnt about how to reduce, reuse and recycle, and my mum and stepdad were pretty good role models for caring for the planet.

But now, here I am, in my 30s, seeing the country I call home show clear and present signs of a huge problem that we need to deal with today. And of course, the effects of climate change have  been felt around the world for years, including in the pacific where people have been calling us to act. Years of drought and hotter, dryer summers are not just slightly creeping in anymore. Climate change is not a problem for some future generation to deal with. It’s here, and frankly, it’s scary.

I realise my life is not completely environmentally clean and that I benefit from a wealth of luxuries available to me and my family. But to be honest, I think this approach needs to be bigger than  just doing what I can in the home. I can buy from bulk food stores, try to use less household energy and switch to solid shampoo bars for my hair, but the reality is, we need systemic change on a large scale.

I’m not an expert in this field, but I’m willing to listen to those who are. And they’re telling us to act now.

We need a detailed plan that allows a transition to renewable energy. I understand this is no easy task, but it’s necessary and worth it. The Uniting Church WA has recently signed the RenewWA  statement, which calls on the WA State Government for reliable jobs, renewable energy and a safe future for all.

Our feature this edition looks at how the Uniting Church has been supporting those who’ve been affected by bushfires around the country. After the fires have gone out, Uniting Church members, congregations, chaplains, agencies and representatives are there to walk alongside people as they begin to rebuild their lives. Flick to page 16 to find out more.

Heather Dowling, Editor

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