As floods recently inundated farms, towns and even the fringes of our cities, media coverage focused on the devastation and the work of our incredible emergency services.
But for many Australians, the bigger picture was missing from this story. For those dealing with the floods — and the aftermath — it was a confronting reminder of what science is telling us about climate change.
"The impacts of climate change have meant the threat of extreme fires and floods have become normalised for us."
Daniel and his father Ian were among those who were already linking extreme weather to climate change. But that still didn’t help prepare them for the flood that swept through last week.
As the Manning and Dawson Rivers rose around Taree in New South Wales, floodwaters devastated the family farm. Ian lost almost everything.
“Dad left to help a friend protect their house in Kempsey and the river in Taree rose more than two metres overnight,” says Daniel.
“The house was under threat and he could not get back because the roads were cut. He lost six shipping containers, a forklift and truck, and almost the house.”
It’s not the first disaster to come their way either. The 2020 summer mega-fires also raged dangerously close to their farm.
“The major bushfires last year threatened the house,” says Daniel.
“The local RFS were using our land to access the fire front by helicopter. In that fire, we lost all our livestock and had to replace all the farm machinery, sheds, fencing and animals.”
“The impacts of climate change have meant the threat of extreme fires and floods have become normalised for us. We expect it now and it's becoming part of our yearly management plan.”
"History shows climate-related disasters are increasing in frequency, yet the government continues to deny the reality of climate change."
"From the Hawkesbury River on the edge of Sydney, all the way up to the fringes of Brisbane, the extreme flooding we saw unfold across the east coast of Australia is consistent with science.
Evidence tells us climate change will increase the rate of flooding, fires, heatwaves and damaging storms. And the widespread devastation of the last 16 months will continue to be felt by our communities.
“History shows that climate-related disasters are increasing in frequency yet the current Australian government continues to deny the reality of climate change,” says Daniel.
It isn't fair that climate inaction from the federal government will continue heaping pressure on Australians, in their homes and communities. Having to prepare for worsening climate events is both emotionally daunting, and costly.
“Insurance is not an easy option because of cost — and our land cannot be protected by flood banks because access to the river is through crown land, which is not well maintained,” explains Daniel, who’s seen river erosion worsen over the last 20 years.
When you’re at risk of losing your home or farm, and having to fork out for insurance that may not even cover you — it proves climate change is a huge economic risk for people too, not just a threat to our wildlife and nature, but our livelihoods and way of life.
We need our governments, and businesses, to take strong, positive climate action. And we need them to take it now — to protect communities, like Daniel’s, and our environment from increasing extreme weather.
There are many ways you can raise your voice for bold and ambitious action to stop climate damage now. Get started by adding your name to the petition to end coal and gas in Australia.
You can also send a powerful personalised email to your Member of Parliament (MP) encouraging them to support climate-positive jobs and do our part to cut pollution this decade, or join an ACF Community group near you to take action with others in your local area.