As I sit here and write this, nearly all of Australia’s populated east coast is ablaze. Nearly a million hectares, they’re saying. Already more than what went up in the Amazon fires of 2019, and it’s not even summer yet. My dad left a couple of days ago, abandoning his post caring for his 97-year-old mother to drive ten hours and defend his home on NSW North Coast. He is one of tens, possibly hundreds of thousands, all along Australia’s wave-rich east coast in this position. From South East Queensland to the South Coast of NSW, across to Perth, and down near Port Lincoln in South Australia, fires are raging out of control across Australia.
On a day in which for the first time in recorded history, not a drop of rain fell on the entire continent. The Aussie dream is going up in smoke. Gum trees, koalas, kangaroos, kookaburras, goannas, marsupials—and whatever else we hold dear about our beautiful, abundant landscapes—are dying an excruciating, slow death. In this time of fear, where do we find hope? Who can we turn to? The youth. People like Pacha Light (“Patch of Light”, p. 44). Born in the Ecuadorian rainforest, Pacha and her brother relocated to Iluka with her single mother, where she was raised in a tin humpy near the banks of the Clarence River (now under threat from fire). Pacha is surfing’s equivalent to Greta Thunberg, with the Billabong team rider and former quarterfinalist at the ISA World Games taking as hard a line as she possibly can on environmental protection and personal stance…
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