By Anika Molesworth
Please, whatever you feel, don’t let it be sympathy for me.
In response to the recent interest to the video I posted of a dust-storm sweeping across my family’s farm whilst I was out doing an evening water-run, I thought I should make something clear. Watch the video. Understand what is currently occurring in far western New South Wales. Let emotions swell – but please don’t let those emotions be of sympathy for me.
I am truly blessed to working in the agricultural sector. There is not a day that goes by that I would rather be doing anything else. It is without doubt, one of the most vibrant, dynamic, meaningful industries that I can think of.
I wake up in the morning to the chattering of guinea fowl outside my bedroom window and corellas perched in swaying gumtrees. My horses whinny for me to feed them before I have my own breakfast, and by mid-morning I’m usually bumping along a track with my mum to go check the fences or clean out a sheep trough. During the heat of the day I am indoors at my computer writing up my PhD thesis – on how to recycle and revalue agricultural by-products to improve soil fertility and capture nutrients within local farming systems. In the afternoons I often have teleconferences, where I connect with people around the country – my university supervisors at the Centre for Regional and Rural Futures, the Farmers for Climate Action group, or the incredible Youth Voices Leadership Team. These conversations are focused on harnessing the energy that lives in this sector, how to share the enthusiasm that people in agriculture feel for their homes, crops and livestock, and how to ensure vibrancy and resiliency for all rural and regional Australia. At sunset I walk our dogs down to the dam, where they run, bark and splash in the evening light. We often take binoculars to the water’s edge to check out the birdlife – these last few weeks we’ve spotted white-faced herons, rainbow bee-eaters and black-fronted dotterels. Kangaroos nonchalantly hop down for a drink amongst the evening’s goings-on, and swallows skim the water’s surface for insects as the sun dips below the horizon.
Rural Australia is a place you can easily fall in love with.
She is beautiful and calming. She is also extremely fragile.
My love for this place is why when I see her in pain, I feel that pain. I feel incredibly frustrated that I cannot do more to help her. I experience the drought, heatwaves and dust-storms with her and I see the toll it takes on the place I call home.
I become angry. I become so angry that we’ve known for over 5 decades that certain actions lead to certain impacts – and yet we have allowed these actions to continue.
Despite the science unequivocally telling us that humans are driving changes in our climate systems – that this alters temperatures on land and in oceans, that this disrupts rainfall patterns and exacerbates extreme weather events – we have continued in a national “she’ll be right” manner.
I am angry that some of the people in Australian politics – who have the capacity to push for the changes needed at a national scale – instead promote coal-fired power stations and show a deep-seated reluctance to acknowledge that carbon emissions must be curtailed.
I am one of the many people in Australian agriculture who is angry and disappointed by the woeful inaction on climate change and blatant disregard for the science.
There is an outcry from the farming community across Australia that ‘business as usual’ is no longer an option. That words and no action give us no relief, and what we need are ambitious climate and energy strategies to be put in place urgently.
I don’t want sympathy. I want you to get as angry as I am.
Angry at the situation and motivated to see it change.
Angry enough to stand-up, speak-out and demand that climate inaction will not continue on our watch.
Because combating our greatest challenges requires all of us to contribute unique skills and knowledge to the solutions, and together, using determined minds and hearts, the best available science and conversation, we can change this.