Returning [again]

The Yarra River at Collingwood

The Yarra River at Collingwood

As part of the Weather Stations project, in September and October of 2014, I visited the cities of Berlin, Dublin, London, Warsaw, Gdansk and Hel, working with school and community groups. I learned a great deal. Some of the knowledge I came away with surprised me. It was most common for people to tell me, ‘of course, you have it much worse out there,’ (climate change); a reflection on the issue as a visible catastrophe. Everybody knew about the experience of bush fires in Australia (which we are again experiencing), drought, and the damage to the Great Barrier Reef, reflecting an understandable but severely limited engagement with the issue.

Historically speaking, bush fires in Australia have little to do with climate change and have been, and are, a natural environmental phenomenon. Certainly, with the planet getting warmer (and 2014 may be the warmest year on record), fires will occur with both greater frequency and ferocity. And while some in Australia accept the link between climate change and the increase in bush fire activity, at a psychological and intellectual level we respond to fire as a disaster to be fought, conquered and overcome – even in grief. Even when the immediate disaster is associated with the broader issue, the language used to describe our response is couched in militaristic language. We battle and defeat the enemy. Confronted by widespread flood, caused as much or more by irresponsible urban planning than changes in weather patterns, we are Queenslanders, as if the heroic label somehow grants special status to a group of people hardy enough to defeat all – until the next flood visits.

The negative impacts of climate change on the environment do not manifest themselves in sudden bursts of meteorological activity alone. Climate change is not simply a recent phenomenon or future event. Its impact is both gradual and profound. The effects of climate change on the planet should not be reduced to a sound bite or dramatic image, such as the devastation caused by a bush fire. Remembering back to the catastrophic Black Saturday fires in Victoria in 2009, the weather conditions leading up to the weekend of the fires were extreme. What most people do not know, or have forgotten, is that more people died in Victoria as a consequences of extreme heat before the fires than those who died in the fires themselves. Without doubt, the trauma and violence wreaked by the fires had an immediate and shocking impact on the lives of the people who experienced them. But, as most of us know little or nothing of the many hundreds of deaths that had nothing to do with the fires, but everything to do with the warming of the planet, we do not give enough thought to an issue that does not abate between fire seasons, being the impacts of climate change that are ever-present. While people in other parts of the globe watch images of fire in Australia on their TV screens and regard this country as a Global Warming Horror Story, they, like us, will have their lives changed, not by shock and awe, but stealth. For instance, the Arctic Circle is melting – melting too slowly to produce a 30 second YouTube clip of any consequence, but changing the planet in a way we have not known for thousands of years.

Yesterday I again walked the banks of my river – the Yarra, in Melbourne. I have written about the river several times now for the Weather Stations project; I have behaved as provincially, ‘non’ global, and perhaps small-minded as I can get. I’m not sure why as yet, but I think my understanding of the issue of climate change has to be found here, on the river. I’m reading as much as I can about the politics and science of climate change. I speak to as many people as I can about the issue. I came to this project as a writer and teacher. And yet, increasingly I have become interested in not the power of language, but its limitations. The planet is more powerful than any words or narrative that humans ascribe to it.

As I was about to leave the river yesterday, I walked by a favourite bend. At a particular moment, lasting no more than a second or two, I could smell the river the way I did over forty years ago. I could feel the memory of the river in my body. It was as much a physical as a psychological reaction. My next thought was that there were no words, not a single one available to me to describe the feeling.

I was content with that feeling.

Tony Birch

 

London Graffiti by Sophie Crook

There is a piece of Banksy graffiti that simply has the statement “I don’t believe in global warming” written on the side of a wall against a London canal. The statement is half submerged by the water itself. IAMS student Sophie Crook came across a photo of it and wrote the following about the image.

London Graffiti

This photo says a lot. A lot about what we as humans are and what we are choosing to believe in the world. To use a word as ‘believe’ says much about how we are too stubborn to admit what we have caused. The problem is not the fact that we have made this mess. The problem is the fact that we are blind to our own mistakes and unable to make considerable changes. We have caused a problem and now it is time to pick up the pieces. All we’re doing is discussing it. Blatantly, the words are right on the wall, sea levels are rising and so is the temperature. A contaminated, toxic sheet has been draped over our eyes since 1901 (this was when climate change was first discovered). We are able to see the problem started in our hands, we are able to spray ‘I don’t believe’ on a wall, but unable to use our hands to do anything. We have closed our eyes, let C02 and the ocean take its toll. There is a difference between truth and belief. You may not believe in global warming, but the facts will one day drown you out. You will be unseen, just like this opinion, on a wall in London.

 

Sophie

 

 

 

Mount Seskin Community College, Tallaght, Dublin – Weather Reflections

2nd year English class ( students 13-14yrs). Work developed following the Tony Birch creative writing workshop at Trinity College Dublin, TCD, September 2014

 

Mount Seskin CC Weather Stations webpage

 

10 OCTOBER 2014     A DESCRIPTION OF SKY

Last night when I went outside to look at the sky, it was like a blanket that covered us from the sun. It was quite humid out and it was spitting rain .I couldn’t see the blue of the sky. The sky was covered with a grey like colour. A few years ago the sky was covered with broken cloud and it was nippy (cold) just the way I liked it.               Chloe Mc Carthy

Weather Stations: Memory

I remember when I was 11 years old and it was extremely hot outside. I called into my friends’ houses. We all played a big game of football on the green. We played for ages and then we all got water guns and balloons and the biggest water fight ever. By the time we finished it was only 1 O’clock but we were all soaked.               Lee Hyland

Colourful sunset

 

As I look into the sunset the colours of orange and purple beam in the sunset, there are only a few clouds but it’s cold.

As I look to my left it is dark but if I look the opposite way it is purple and orange.

When I was young at this time in December it would most definitely be dull and rainy.

There would be puddles on the ground, the grass would be muddy and it would be misty.  Josh O’Keeffe

 

Description of the Sky

10/10/2014

The sky is white and calm.

It makes me feel calm and happy that it is not cloudy, rainy or sunny.

It is just right.

It is also windy and cold which goes well with the white sky.

By Awais Zafar

 

Description of the Sky
It was nearly seven o’clock and the sky above me was still bright. The sun made the whole sky light up. There were very few clouds in the sky tonight. I sat there in my back garden, lying down on warmish grass and watched the sun set. It was so beautiful and colourful. Pink spread through the blue gloomy sky.       Siobhan Samoila

 

Weather Stations

It’s about half 6 and I am looking up at the sky and the sun is shining beautifully. I love when the sun is shining because it gives me an opportunity to play my favourite sport football. When the sun is shining it puts me in such a happy mood.

It was the end of summer and before we go back to school me and my thought it would be great to end the summer on a high and go to the beach with the family and also our cousins. We checked the weather forecast to see if it could go ahead and it turned out that it was 17 degrees. So we grabbed all our gear and told our relatives and we all headed up to Bray beach. We were having so much fun building sand castles and putting our parents in the sand. The funnest part was splashing in the water with my 2 year old baby brother. Then all of a sudden it started lashing rain, then it started to hailstone. We all took our belongings and ran to the cars. While making our way to the car the hail was hurting my back because I was topless but thank god we got into the cars before it got really bad.           Tawwab Owalabi

 

My memory

When I was young I went to a place called Glendalough,

I was only about 6 and I was there with my family. It was very hot out, so hot we didn’t see one man there with upper body wear on.

It was from 27 degrees to about 35,

I fell asleep for 5 minutes and when I woke up it was misty, rainy and very dull and the dog was soaking wet, we all had to go home.     Josh O’Keeffe

 

 

WEATHER MEMORY

10/10/2014          Description of the sky

Today wasn’t a clear day at all it was raining all day. It was dull outside and very cold and foggy however there wasn’t that many people in class as well and the teacher still went on and on about work in school. When it was lunch time it wasn’t a highlight at all because I was drenched and really cold on the way to lunch and back. School was finished early today because there was a teacher meeting after school. I was so glad that school was over early. My mum came to pick me up from school after I was done. She asked me how was my day, and I didn’t answer. I went to bed early and when I woke up I was happy again.    Kashifa Morenikeji

 

 

Jobstown Flood

10/10/2014

In 2012 there was a flood in Jobstown. It was raining heavily all through the day and by the evening it had flooded. Water came into some peoples’ homes but my house was safe. Everybody was outside their front doors observing the flood. People were helping to push cars through the water. The people who went onto the street were wet all the way up to their knees. It was a surprise for me because I had never seen anything like this before in Jobstown.         Awais Zafar

A DESCRIPTION OF THE SKY ChloeMcCarthy

Colourful sunset Josh OKeeffe

Description of the sky by Awais Zafar

Description of the sky Siobhain Samoila

Jobstown Flood by Awais Zafar

Kashifa Moreniken a memory

My memory JoshOK

SKY DESCRIPTION Saoirse

Sky description WarrenDowman

WEATHER STATIONS Karl Byrne

Weather Memory Siobhain Samoila

Weather Station Siobhain Samoila

Weather Station Kristan O’Neill

Weather stations Tawwab Owalabi

Weather Stations by Lee Hyland MEMORY

Weather Stations by Lee Hyland Sky.

Weather Stations James PosseOliver

Weather Stations Dylan Byrne Carr

Weather Station Tori Deegan