I’ve been reflecting on my time spent covering disasters as a journalist, amid the disastrous floods to our North.
My formative years as a reporter were spent in Lismore and I covered big floods in the Northern Rivers before heading overseas where I have since reported on floods, fires and storms across the world.
This week I’ve been reflecting on the common issues after crises of this nature, when communications break down and lack of planning and coordination compound panic and anger within communities.
As the latest IPCC report finds, more extreme weather is ahead of us, and it will happen with increasing frequency. As someone who has been on the ground after several “one in a hundred years” events, this is no surprise to me.
Not only does it mean that we must actively accelerate measures to mitigate climate change, we must also urgently reconsider our planning and strategy to manage its impact. The communities of the Northern Rivers are experiencing severe frustration due to slow and haphazard help, lack of logistical support and fragmented organisation. We’re going to have to get a lot better at this, because of course even if we act much faster, worsening weather events will be “baked in” for some time.
I have witnessed and observed disaster management up close on several continents. There are changes that can make a difference, including consistent communication before, during and after, planning and cooperation between agencies and different levels of government, and structured follow up to enable recovery for affected communities. This can happen alongside our broader, forward focused climate policy to reduce emissions and embrace renewable energy.
My mum is on the North Coast of NSW, and like everyone there has been short of fuel, without phone and internet service and reliant on the food she had in the house before the weather hit. Having been affected by drought, fires and floods over the last 2 years or so, she has been in the eye of the storm.
These events continue to demonstrate why we must implement smart, forward focused climate policy for our future prosperity and safety. As others have noted, Australia, with our already extreme climate, faces huge risks ahead, but the opportunity is vast. If we can just flip the switch to optimism and harness our sun, wind, open space and brain power, we can lead the world, strengthen our economy, and protect our communities and way of life.
More of the same is no longer safe.
Find your voice Goldstein.
If not us, who? If not now, when?