Nervously putting my newborn daughter into her car seat for the first time, I was overwhelmed by the innate urge to protect her.
That desire to shield her from the dangers of the world has never faded. It is the same urge calling me to do all I can to protect my family, community and country from the biggest crisis we are facing this decade - the climate crisis.
While the world grapples with COVID-19 pandemic, my community on the south coast of NSW is still coming to terms with the Black Summer bushfires of 2019/20.
Extreme weather events, like bushfires, not only have immediate health risks, but also come with longer-term physical, economic and psychological impacts. My vocation as a rural doctor gives me a unique insight into these impacts on my community.
Almost two years on, I still see patients whose lungs have not recovered from enduring weeks of hazardous bushfire smoke. I still see patients whose mental health is fragile and who continue to report being easily triggered by a windy day or the sound of a helicopter.
I see patients who are scared for the coming summer. They are anxious about the future. They feel despair at how little the government is doing to keep them and their families safe from future climate fueled disasters.
The science tells us that bushfires, like other extreme weather events, are increasing in severity, intensity and duration as the world heats up. We only have to turn to news from overseas to witness the world on fire, with recent massive fires in Greece and California leading to images that looked so similar to what we suffered during the Black Summer fires.
And, as the world wakes up to the climate crisis, climate anxiety and depression are also on the rise.
As with all medical professionals, it is my duty of care to advocate for the health and wellbeing of my patients. I want to see my children growing up in a thriving environment and economy, not living with compounding climate disasters risking their health and safety.
The desire for a healthier, safer and fairer world post COVID is palpable. We have everything we need to nurse our climate, back to health, all we need now is leadership and ambition on the federal stage.
For the sake of our children's future, it is time to resuscitate our climate.
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