Today, coronavirus dominates our daily information intake. It is hard to remember the normality of life before this all started. We are nostalgic for the days of ‘business as usual’ rather than when the unusual became our everyday reality.
However, our rose-tinted glasses deceive us – pre COVID-19 everything was not fine and dandy; we are in the midst of a climate crisis. The Australian Wildfires illustrate this point perfectly.
Why did Australia burn? It is simple: before the fires started the country experienced its hottest and driest summer on record. Australia experienced a staggering loss of land, homes and wildlife.
The Bureau of Meteorology declared that future bushfire seasons will start earlier and last longer. So, despite Australia being accustomed to wildfires, these fires are of a different magnitude and may only be the first of more extreme and unpredictable bushfire seasons.
Climate change manifested in bushfires that burnt down over a fifth of the country’s forests, destroyed over 3000 homes and 2500 buildings gone.
Only on 3rd March 2020 could the statistics boast a fire-free 24 hours, that is a whopping 240 days after the first fire. To put these statistics into perspective that is approximately seven months where 12.6 million hectares of land suffered. If one hectare is the size of a football pitch, now the daunting scale of the ashes can be understood.
The Australian Academy of Science labelled the fires “unprecedented anywhere in the world” due to the massive losses in biodiversity. More than 1 BILLION animals, many unique to the continent, have perished in the fires, including 800 million in New South Wales alone. This figure does not include bats, fish or frogs meaning the loss is more than this estimate.
On top of this, smoke plumes have caused severe health problems for over 11 million Australians and travelled as far as South America. Air pollution in Sydney, Brisbane and Canberra reached some of the most harmful levels anywhere in the world.
Effects on the Public
Yet statistics alone do not capture the public outcry in light of the destruction.
Award winning and ACS accredited cinematographer Ashley Barron’s advert “Change Is Coming”, in partnership with Greenpeace, vividly illustrates the irreparable environmental damage and the need for change by those campaigning for it.
We are shown the effects of the wild fires. The mix of close up and wide shots encapsulate the feeling of fear. The extent of the damage is clear, from scenes of a boy struggling to breathe, to a couple in tears after their home has burnt down. Barron begins by building a sense of tension, transitioning to mourning, then urgency and finally, hope. Shots of scorched earth and flooded homes show the extremes of the situation. Fast paced violins underline the impact of beautifully stylised shots, depicting the awakening of public consciousness and protest.
The aptly-named short has a rousing and energetic spirit that pushes accountability, responsibility and direct action in the face of the lawmakers in charge. Cries for measures to curb carbon emissions are frequent.
“Inspired by the words of Greta Thunberg, ‘Change Is Coming’ was designed as an impassioned rallying cry for Australians as they took to the polls for the federal election in 2019. We wanted to show viewers – regardless of which party they were voting for – that the effects of climate damage through extreme weather is something that affects all of us. This is one of the greatest challenges our country is facing but the piece ultimately has a message of hope; the voice of the younger generation can be heard.”
Kevin Lim, Director
Ashley Barron has kindly shared some behind the scenes shots with us. Here, we can catch a glimpse into the creative direction of the advert.
The Greenpeace Investigation
Without sounding like a climate change broken record, something needs to be done. The stream of continuing inaction disguised as dissonance, disbelief or ignorance means the message needs to be repeated.
A new Greenpeace investigation into the corrupt political system that does behind-the-door deals with Australian coal giants is underway. This will be made into a short documentary exposing the ties between these two spheres of influence.
This documentary is sorely needed. Among the evidence shown is the case of Trevor St Baker, the wealthy owner of Vales Point coal-burning power station who gave $50,000 to the Liberal Party, and that of the mining lobby group, Minerals Council, who have recently admitted they financed politicians to gain access to them. 
As an impartial organisation, Greenpeace do not take funding or donations from government or corporate companies. Therefore, the documentary ‘Dirty Power: Burnt Country’ is relying on crowdfunding.
We urge you to contribute to the cause through the link above. The arrogant immunity that these people believe they operate with needs to stop.
Edit March 2021: ‘Dirty Power: Burnt Country’ is now out and can be watched here.