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Backwards on climate action, flood victims see what’s in store


WHEN I WAS researching and writing about Australia’s sorry policy history (after the early 1990s) on accepting that a climate catastrophe was imminent, a common political pushback was to say scientific climate warnings were all theory and let’s wait for on-ground evidence.

The on-ground evidence arrived notably with fire and flood in Australia in the past five years. Yet we still have the Liberals and the Nationals and some elements of Labor wanting to downplay the role of climate change in the public conversation about ‘natural disasters’ to which Australia is highly vulnerable.

We hear that the Coalition’s federal budget proposal in the leadup to May election offers even less money for effective adaptation and mitigation measures on climate impacts than this Coalition government has bothered with in the past decade. That should work well for future generations. 

“Can’t remember sunshine. Raining steadily since spring”

The following (linked) first-hand report from Byron Bay, Australia’s chic resort community for the comfortably-off and a few celebrities, shows climate-change-boosted disaster is an equal-opportunity opponent. And people are not fooled by government rhetoric about ‘natural disasters.’

Byron Bay realtor Travis Lipshus wrote:

Last night I was woken at midnight by my dog Hugo having a panic attack from the thunder, nothing out of the ordinary — only an annoying hindrance to sleep.

Then the wind and rain which has been steady for months began building into an extreme weather event — with the house shaking and trees bending almost over on to themselves.

Within an hour our bedroom started to leak, and out came buckets and towels. Our normally stationary creek had trees floating past us, ripped from the banks by the wind. At 2am the flood waters — already at an uncomfortably high level for the past two days — strove for new heights.

People holding their phones for light were at their shops trying to stop water coming in with sandbags, in a futile effort.

At 3am town was submerged and resignation set in. As high tide came, the water continued to rise, hitting its peak early in the morning.

People driving through the flood waters in town for fun caused waves that further damaged the stores and businesses.

I cannot remember sunshine. It has been raining steadily since spring.

If you have been fortunate enough to not lose your home, business and personal belongings, as so many have, then at the very least you have mould all over your possessions, your income affected and are grappling with the seasonal depression.

At the conclusion of his report, that included details of his partner’s shop inventory being destroyed, he wrote:

This is a microcosm of the impending doom humanity will face. Heed our warning, we must change our habits and policy — though it may already be too late.


Thank you Travis for your powerful account and warning. We all grieve for your community and fear the next calamity. Not so long ago it was fire destroying homes and livelihoods in our region. What we all CAN do is take assertive action.

If we don’t want this same Liberal/National thinking charting the living environment for our communities and for our children, in a few weeks, in May, there is the opportunity to send a definite message.

TOP IMAGE: #LismoreFloods2022 Twitter compilation

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