Welcome to Eureka Street

back to site


We don't have the luxury of dealing with one crisis at a time

  • 12 November 2020
Since the pandemic started to show its teeth on our shores in March, there’s been a trend to wave away any other matter other than COVID-19 with an examination of, ‘Just one crisis at a time — we’ll get to climate change after we’ve got the economy back on its feet.’ 

The only problem is we don’t have the luxury as a nation to solely focus on one crisis at a time. 

Earlier this year, we already saw climate change in our backyards with the catastrophic 2019-20 bushfire season. During these fires, an estimated 18.6 million hectares burnt, over 5,900 buildings were destroyed, 34 lives were lost and one billion animals were killed. Not to forget the many endangered species driven closer to extinction. 

These awful months brought the climate emergency heatedly into our reality. The people of Australia were scared and they started to increasingly press the Morrison government on the country’s climate action. 

But then another crisis took all our attention away: COVID-19. By the time all the fires in New South Wales were extinguished on March 4th, we were already panic buying toilet paper. Soon every corner of conversation across the globe became dominated by coronavirus and its implications. There wasn’t any room left to talk about anything else. 

As Prime Minister Scott Morrison said to a business audience in Sydney regarding coronavirus, ‘We now have one goal together this year: to protect the health, the wellbeing, and livelihoods of Australians through this global crisis, and to ensure that when the recovery comes — and it will — we are well-positioned to bounce back strongly on the other side.’

'The COVID-19 pandemic has riddled us all with exhaustion. And yet we can’t put all else aside to solely focus on the coronavirus effort.'

Yet with each day that passes, climate change becomes a more pressing issue, and mother nature isn’t going to wait for us to play catch up. 

This year, Queensland marked the official bushfire season on the first of August with the state seeing fires burning already. In New South Wales, twenty-one local councils started their bushfire season at the beginning of September and the RFS has already battled multiple fires on the north-east coast. Fire ecologist David Bowman, told the ABC, ‘It's extremely difficult to predict what an individual fire season will do… But am I relaxed about the coming fire season? Absolutely not.’

Our worsening bushfire seasons are just one example of many. Australia is expected