Reflections of an Environmental Refugee

c Xianyi Shen

c Xianyi Shen

Most of my days in my twenties were spent alone writing in a rented one bedroom apartment on 15th floor in Beijing’s Wudaokou District. Fast and furious, I wrote on a first generation PC which only had one function – Chinese typing software for Word. This workaholic life continued until one morning my mother called me requesting that I return home immediately: ‘Your father has been diagnosed with terminal cancer, the final stage of throat cancer.’

With the guilt of not having made a visit to my parents in a number of years, I instantly stopped everything in Beijing and flew back to Zhejiang, which now had a brand new airport near my hometown. In terms of the Confucian tradition, I was not a good daughter. Fulfilling filial duty had not really been the focus of my attention for a long time. At that time, I thought the demands of being a dutiful daughter were purely an ideological tool for suppression of women. (Years later when I read English feminist writer Juliet Mitchell‘s Women’s Estate, I thought how accurate had been here analysis that the patriarchal family order created women as secondary people.) No wonder her work was not promoted in China! But setting aside all these reservations born from my political stance, I decided to give in to my mother’s request. My father was the only person in my family I respected. Not because he was my father but because his artistic spirit was something I valued and had modeled my own artistic life on. So I left Beijing, taking all my film script work and unfinished novels with me. When I finally got to the hospital in my hometown, I saw my mother’s darting, sometimes, frantic blood shot eyes and my brother’s sallow, depressed face. I knew the situation was bad. That night, my father went through a seven hour operation – because of the spread of the cancer cells to his neck and lymph nodes, they had to remove his larynx entirely. We stayed outside of the operation room, weary and on edge, waiting for what felt like a delayed death sentence. Next morning, when my father woke up, it became apparent to both us and him that he would not be able to speak again. This was a shocking reality, as bad as his not being able to swallow water or to urinate or engage in the simplest physical tasks. He lay on his bed, staring blankly at the food tube fed through his nose and into his stomach.

My father lay on his hospital bed for three weeks. He shared his room with four other patients. During that time we saw two cancer patients die in front of us. The nurses came to remove their bodies, while the remaining family members cried in their devastation. One of the patients who died was a very young girl. She was only 12 and she had had neck cancer. She died two days after her operation. This case especially shook my father, who always believed that the mind was stronger than the physical body. He thought a body would follow the will of a mind which would prevail through any condition of physical weakness, something very much in line with Mao Zedong’s way of thinking. But the cancer ward taught him a heavy lesson. Mind is powerless when it comes to a certain illness.

My mother tried everything to improve my father’s health. Apart from the mix of western pills and traditional herbal medicines, she regularly brought him a turtle to consume, to improve his nutrition. Chinese believe that turtles are long-lived creatures and there are some organic materials in their bodies that can enhance a human body’s strength. First she cooked a turtle soup for a long time with all sorts of herbs. After my father drank the soup she would then take the turtle shell to make plastrons. He would eat the shell powder. I didn’t know if that way of eating worked for his illness. But with all the radiotherapy he did later on and the western medication, he nevertheless survived for another thirteen years.

During the days we stayed in the cancer ward, we were quite troubled by seeing so many new cancer patients being carried into the hospital and dying on their beds. The wards were full, the new patients had to sleep on makeshift beds in the corridors as well as the narrow space in between the staircases. Nurses and doctors were bombarded by demands from the patients and their families. The invalids puked, coughed, and howled, seemingly, at every possible moment. The place was like a hell on earth. There was no human dignity in a Chinese hospital like this one we stayed. Zhejiang was a fast developing industrial province with many large-scale factories, there had been lots of talk about water and soil pollution, that the factories released chemical waste into the rivers. But no one could really conduct a thorough investigation provide clear evidence of the links between heavy pollution and bad effects on human health. All the big factories were state backed. For example, many women and young kids who had never smoked, nevertheless died of lung cancer. Why was that? Some doctor theorized that airborne particles known as PM2.5 (meaning they are 2.5 micrometers or smaller) contributed to many death cases of the lung cancer patients. When inhaled, these tiny and often toxic particles would pass through lung membranes and enter the bloodstream. While they didn’t always cause cancer, they were a ubiquitous byproduct of burning coal. But in China, PM2.5 has become a part of life.

Another time I read a report from the World health Organization. It said there were 13 million Chinese people dying from cancer each year and this number was rising. According to this figure, if there were 55 million people in my province, then, one could expect that about 500,000 people were dying of cancer each year. During the last two decades, there were many ‘cancer villages’ and ‘HIV villages’ appearing in China. It said in those villages every family had someone who died of cancer or blood infection. And these cases were directly linked to environmental issues. Now even the Beijing government was quite alert about the problem. They released a report recently saying more than 70 per cent of the country’s rivers and lakes had been polluted. This made me wonder, if that was admitted by the Chinese government through official channels, then what would the percentage be according to independent organizations like NGOs or the World Health Organization? You wouldn’t want to hear the real facts. Was that the reason we Chinese only drank boiled water?

My father’s cancer was the catalyst for my thinking about the fragility of human health in relation to our environment and for an increasing sense of foreboding, indeed, gloom, in particular, about China. I saw my earlier life in Beijing, frantically living within an urban system out of control, trying to meet writing deadlines, running from computer to another job and back again, always catapulting myself into the next project, but all the time surviving with a kind of tunnel vision. My life was run through with this desire for personal achievement at any cost. The phrase rings through my mind, at any cost, which sums up so much of what China is about. My costs were personal but also political. China in the last 60 years has been driven to national goals, at any cost. The cost was becoming more and more apparent. Cancer is eating up the population, even as another industrial park is built, or power station constructed.

My mother died of terminal stomach cancer just a year after my father finally succumbed to cancer. I didn’t know how much her condition was the result of environmental contamination, or perhaps it was just widow’s cancer. But I know she had been suffering from the condition for a while and that the doctor’s had misdiagnosed her ailment—they had given her pills for a heart condition rather than for stomach cancer. After both my parents died, I felt I was indeed an environmental refugee living in western Europe. Is the rain in Spain the same rain as the rain that falls on the Huabei plain in Northern China? Is the snow that falls on a Beijing roof the same that falls on top of the People’s Palace in Warsaw? If so, there are no more places for environmental refugees. It’s the same water system on this planet Earth.

Sun and Water

A renga in 16 stanzas
Written by the students of
the Weather Substation at the Romain Rolland Gymnasium
Berlin-Reinickendorf, July 2nd, 2015

The sun rises.
Its rays illuminate the whole valley.
The river flows downstream.
I allow the melody of the water
To carry me with it.

The morning sun
Shines on a green leaf
That floats on the water.
A small ant sits upon it
Making the journey downstream alone.

The days are grey.
They become ever brighter.
The sun is dazzling.
The waves break,
Break on the white beach.

The sun gives off light,
Glittering on the surface of the sea
Like a sky full of stars,
The rays shine
And illuminate all they touch.

Light shines on the sea,
Creating so many shades of blue.
The waves murmur.
The heat quickly spreads
And the days grow longer.

The smell of the sea,
Weak, yet still present,
Is carried by the wind,
Decorated by the songs
Of all its animal inhabitants.

The sea’s waves
Quietly gurgle
Against the coastline.
The surface of the sea glitters,
Mesmerised by the sun.

Heat, what now?
A mouth dried out.
One drop of water.
Desert sands and great heat,
But no water to come to the rescue.

Quiet, yet loud too,
The waves rush to the cliff.
A roaring sound, even as
It still feels peaceful.
Sun, summer by the sea.

Glittering beauty,
In the glow of the late sun.
As far as the eye can see,
the ocean lies calm.
But it can be so very different too.

An irascible wind
Sweeps through quiet spaces,
Turning the world on its head.
And how do I find myself there?
Changed, with fresh courage!

Reflected in the water,
It now sparkles and shines.
I grow wetter.
The heat is oppressively warm.
A night at sea begins.

Outside in the garden,
Leaves wilt in the fountain.
I see the sun
Going down in the distance.
The night completes the day.

She leaps into the cold,
Eye closed, tightly shut.
Her hair shimmers.
It will be dark in no time at all,
For the sun is setting.

The sun rises
And the lake is a mirror
To reflect it, the sun.
The lake sees the sun as blue
And the sun the lake as yellow.

The sun as a motor,
the heart of this world.
With water as the blood,
That keeps it alive.
Without both, there is nothing.

Outside by Michéal Eastwood

I opened my eyes and sat up in bed looking around the bland, empty room as I did every morning, to remind myself of where I am. I stood up and walked over to the corner of the room where there was a small dirty bucket that had the word “toilet” painted on it. I did as I did every morning and when I was finished I walked to the centre of the room and sat on the floor with my legs crossed adjacent to the window. The light from the outside hit my face and I thought to myself “The sun must be out to play”. As I looked up to peer out the window, the light blinded me so I had to squint to see. The outside was like a painting that has been worked on to perfection, the clear blue sky was bright and full and there was only a few chalky clouds perfectly placed so as not to disrupt the view. The sun was in its full glory, it appeared to be smiling onto the world with such grace and joy as to bring life to the planet and made the distant green hills that showed their peaks look all the more alive. I sat here a while looking out the window taking in the beauty of what was through the glass portal in my wall.

I heard footsteps coming from outside the door and, as they drew closer, I sprung to my feet and shouted out “Mommy” as I ran towards the door. My mother walked into the room and quickly shut the door behind her. She did this every time she walked into the room and I never questioned why. She turned to look at me, I always thought my mother was the most beautiful person in the world. Her eyes were light blue like the sky and always had the same look of love, She had gorgeous blonde hair that would glisten when the sun would hit it and a slight smile that always made me smile right back at her. She opened her arms and wrapped them around me. “How are you my son?” she whispered in the most delicate voice I could imagine, I looked up at her and softly kissed her pale cheek before replying with, “I want to go outside”. My mother’s embrace loosened as she bent down to my level holding my shoulders and looked deep into my eyes with hers, “You know the outside is dangerous sweetheart” she said while brushing her hand through the hair around my ear. “I’ll be safe I promise”, I protest with a grin on my face, She looked into my eyes again “We’ve talked about this sweetie, the outside world is a dangerous place filled with people who will hurt you”, she says calmly. I could feel her grip tighten as she said this and her voice sounded like she had a lump in her throat, however she kept the same smile and never looked away from me, she kept her composure.”But what if….” I started but she halted me by saying, “Now lets get you fed sweetie”, as she rose back to her feet. She now continued with the usual morning routine, she walked over to the window and opened it to “let in the freshness” as she always told me. This was my favourite part of the morning because I could hear the sounds that were outside. I ran up to the window and looked up, I couldn’t reach it but I just closed my eyes and listened to all the wondrous sounds that came flooding into the room. My mother left to go get my breakfast but I just stood there with my eyes closed, listening to the seemingly endless world outside of my window. A familiar sound met my ear “BIRDS!” I shouted happily, as I listened to their careless chirping, a grin once again appearing on my face I kept listening for more sounds and as I focused in on the things such as cars, the wind, motorcycles and footsteps. I waited for my favourite sound of all…..People. I love listening to the voices of people walking past and especially the sound of other children playing in the streets, although it made me want to know what it would be like to be out there with them, the sun on my face, the wind in my hair and maybe, just maybe, I could be the person that someone else is listening to out of their window.

I heard the door opening again and my mother walked in with a bowl in her hands. She placed it down on the desk in the corner of the room and gestured for me to come and sit on the small tattered stool that was beside her. I had already guessed what she had made for me and as I sat down and looked into the bowl I was confirmed right. “Porridge again?” I moaned, She laughed a little and calmly said, “Don’t you want to grow big and strong?” in reply. “Of course”, I said enthusiastically grabbing the spoon in my hand and taking my first mouthful. I left it in my mouth and smiled happily when I realised she had added honey, I quickly ate the rest of the bowl and turned to face her. She was just standing there smiling at me, I smiled back and she put her hand on my head and said quickly, “Time for lessons”. Everyday my mother would give me lessons in reading and writing and she taught me lots of interesting things. She got my pencil and copybook and placed it on the desk in front of me. She picked up the pencil and began to write out a sentence for me to copy down. As she did this I noticed a bruise on her arm. I asked her about it but she quickly pulled her sleeve down and told me she fell. I knew she was lying but I copied down the sentence like I was asked and did my work.”Its your birthday soon”, my mother said with a smile, “what would you like?”. I was suddenly filled with excitement but I could only think of one thing, “To go outside maybe?” I asked cautiously, she gave me a disappointed look and I quickly said, “A new chair? This one is old and falling apart.” Her look softened and she just nodded in agreement and once again ran her hand through the hair around my ear. Suddenly I heard another pair of footsteps at the door. I turned to look only to see my father standing there. My father was a tall broad man with small, sharp eyes and a rough face. He always had the same look of anger on his face and he rarely came into my room. I saw my mother tense up as he entered as if she was scared. My father didn’t say a word but instead just looked at me, then at my mother and snapped his fingers I knew what this meant, mother had to leave now. My mother bowed her head, she kissed my forehead and whispered “Goodbye sweetie, I’ll see you later” before closing the window and leaving with my father. As my father closed the door he turned to me and ordered “behave” with a sharp tone. I simply nodded in reply bowing my head sad to be left alone again.
I jumped awake. A nightmare had once again haunted my night’s sleep. It was about my father. He had taken away my mother from me once again, except she wasn’t coming back. I spent a while curled up in bed, tears streaming down my face. I didn’t dare cry in case I woke father. Eventually I rose from the bed and walked over to my best friend, the window. I sat cross legged and once again peered through this portal to a world much bigger than my own. The moon was full and high in the sky spreading light throughout the darkened world. The sky was not quite black but rather a dark blue which silhouetted dark clouds and birds gliding through the air. I stood and walked towards the window, reaching for the handle that mother uses to open it every morning like clockwork. I couldn’t reach. Disappointed and upset, I crawled back into my bed and forced myself to close my eyes, I doubted I would sleep. I lay there for a while wondering if I would ever fall asleep and if my mother would be here in the morning. I wanted to see her so badly. I turned to my side and clutched a pillow to my chest. I didn’t like this, I wanted my mother to stay with me longer but she always left. I lay thinking about this for a while before I found myself growing more and more tired, before falling back to sleep.
The next morning seemed to come almost instantaneously. The room began to light up and I slowly peeled open my eyes. I stayed laying in bed for a while before I was disturbed by a crashing sound from beneath the floor. Startled, I put my ear to the ground and tried to listen. It was mother and father. Father was shouting, he must be mad. He gets mad a lot and that’s how mother gets the bruises. Sometimes he isn’t happy giving her bruises and he tries to give them to me, but every time he’s tried to, mother has stopped him, even if it means her getting more herself. The sound of them fighting and the thought of mother being hurt caused tears to flow down my face. I lift my ear from the floor and sat up, keeping my head down. Sitting there for a while I heard a sound coming from above me. I looked up to see my friend, my window to a world beyond this one that I knew all too well. As I glared through the glass I realised out what the noise was, rain. “The sky must be crying too”, I whimpered to myself under my breath, taking in the scenery that I’ve memorized by heart. The sky was filled with dark, looming clouds that seemed to have an ocean’s worth of water flowing from them. The raindrops bounced off window and trickled down to the bottom over and over as I stared through it. The fields in the background were barely visible; of what I could see they looked wet and dreary, as if the sky’s tears had washed away the life. I buried my face in my knees and continued to cry along side my only friend. I waited there in the middle of the room waiting, waiting for my mother to come up with my breakfast and for her to let me get that “fresh air” she thinks is so important for me. I waited for what felt like years, just wanting to be able to talk to someone again, although it seemed like today would be the first day mother wouldn’t come to be with me. My tears had dried up but the heavens still wept like a newborn child. Just as I had given up on the idea of seeing mother today I heard fumbling outside the door. The handle moved and the door slowly opened. It was mother. I jumped to my feet and ran towards her, arms open wide and a grin on my face. She fell to her knees and held out her arms, grabbing me as I came into reach. This close, I noticed it. She had blood on her lip. She mumbled the words “people are cruel and evil things sweetie” under her breath and I just replied with, “I know” ,holding her close. She smiled and kissed my cheek before standing and walking over to the window. The weather was still terrible but she still turned to me and said, “You need your fresh air” and opened the window regardless. The noise of the rain suddenly became much louder and a cold breeze blew through the room. I could hear a whistling sound from the wind outside and an occasional car driving on the wet road below. Mother looked at me and smiled “I have a surprise for the birthday boy”, she said still smiling at me. My face dropped, “Its today?” I asked confused. “Mhm”, she answered walking over to me, “I’ll be back soon with your present and your breakfast”. She kissed my forehead and left the room. I got excited now, had she gotten what I asked? and would she spend longer with me today? After a while I heard a noise on the opposite side of the door. I lept back to my feet in anticipation, eyes locked on the door. For a few seconds there was nothing but then the door flew open revealing not my mother but my father. He was rocking on his feet as though he was half asleep and a stale smell quickly filled the room. His hands were unsteady but in the left he held a brown bottle and in the right thick, black belt. He took an unbalanced step towards me, mumbling inaudible sounds beneath his breath. My hands were trembling, I was scared, and I didn’t know where mother was. He raised his right hand. I put up my hands to shield my face and closed my eyes, waiting for the impact. Smack! I felt it come down on my side. I stayed there as I felt the belt strike me again and again and again before eventually hearing the sound of my mother’s voice screaming at him to stop. My father started to turn around and walk towards her but as he was about to reach her, he fell flat on his face, unconscious.
I was still shielding my face when mother walked over to me with the same bowl of porridge and a spoon. I could see out into the hallway, I had never seen it before and it was a long room with cream coloured walls with a few doors along the walls. When mother noticed me looking she immediately closed the door. She then hastily said, “Wait here”, leaving the room once again. I began to eat the porridge but was taken by surprise to find nothing special about it. “It’s my birthday I thought she had a surprise for me”, I thought to myself. This thought was interrupted by her walking back into the room; in her arms was a solid wooden chair. It was much bigger than the stool that I have been using for as long as I can remember. She put it down beside the old stool and beckoned me to come sit. I did as she wanted but as I sat, I clenched my side in pain. Mother lifted me up and pulled up my shirt, There were red marks along my side that felt like they were throbbing. I saw mother starting to cry but she stopped herself, I couldn’t help but think she was doing it for my sake. I was confused. Mother knew father was like this but she stayed. She knew he would hurt her but she let him. I turned to her and asked her this. She wiped the tears from her eyes and brushed her hands through my hair as she did when she spoke with me. “I stay to keep you safe and away from the danger sweetie”, she said, still caressing my hair. I froze. The reason she stayed was to keep me safe? I was the reason that father could hurt her. I began to cry and buried my face in mother’s shoulder. She put an arm around me and rubbed the small of my back. I caught a glimpse out the window. The weather that had began to lighten up had only worsened. The rain was pelting down from the sky like little bullets shot from the clouds. The outside looked dead, empty and void of life, as if the water had just washed it all away.
Both mother and I jumped when we heard staggering from outside the door. Father must have woken up. Mother told me to wait as she quickly staggered to the window forcing it shut, then leaving in a hurry, not wanting father to come back inside the room. Left to my own thoughts an idea struck me. My only wish was to be outside and the only thing keeping mother here was me. I heard father shouting again and mother shouting back at him but only one thing was going through my mind. Outside! I wanted to see what was beyond these walls but more importantly I needed to help mother. If I left then mother would have no reason to stay. My body began to move on its own, running over to the window, reaching for the handle, my only way to the outside. I couldn’t reach and began to become disheartened, thats when I saw it, the chair. Grabbing it and dragging it over to beneath the window I climbed up onto it. I reached once again stretching as much as I possibly could before finally grasping the handle in my hand. I’ve never been this close to the window before, I could see myself in the glass. I had never seen my reflection before and was surprised by what I saw. My eyes were light blue like my mother but my hair is black like my father’s; the thought of me looking like him repulsed me enough to ignore my reflection. As I twisted the handle I noticed something, the rain had stopped and there were spears of sunlight piercing through the clouds. Amazement struck me, I had seen something I had only ever seen once before. A rainbow. It was so beautiful I could only compare it to one thing, mother. It was as if it was her, smiling at me as I looked at the shining colours in the sky. Smiling back like I only do to mother I forced the window open and a cool breeze hit my face. Pulling myself up, I saw more than I have ever seen before. The world does not seem so dangerous but rather beautiful to my eyes, I see the hills that I have adored my whole life and the roads where I heard the cars drive past, I see the world that I want to explore. If I did this it would let my mother leave, this was the only thing that gave me the confidence I needed to pull myself through the portal in which I have only ever looked into before now and now I am entering it, the world beyond these walls. As the first beam of sunlight hits my face I realise what I had done, I’m outside.

G’day from Footscray City College, Australia

Image: Footscray City College - oh so cool (so says Tony Birch)

Footscray City College – oh so cool (so says Tony Birch)

G’day from Footscray City College, Australia!

Footscray City College is a state school in the inner west of Melbourne, Australia. We have 46 different nationalities at the school, and almost 1,000 students. We overlook one of Melbourne’s great waterways, the mighty Maribyrnong River. We are an excited bunch of 14 and 15 year old kids with some great, committed teachers. We are exploring the city of Melbourne as well as the natural landscape that surrounds the city.

Here’s a film we made on our first day with Weather Stations

Our group are working with Tony Birch and the Wheeler Centre for Books, Writing and Ideas to improve our own writing and knowledge about climate change. Tony has written multiple fiction books including Shadowboxing and Blood. The Wheeler Centre is an organisation that organises talks and events for the public about lots of topics including writing, climate change and more.

Our goal is to get people talking about climate change and how it might impact on us in our own suburbs, streets and homes. We want people around the world to know that we’re thinking and uniting around the issue. Not only do we want people to think about climate change, we want to provoke them to action.

We look forward to sharing our work with all of the other Substations in Berlin this September!

– Students of Footscray City College Substation

Remembering My Mountain Climbing


At the age of 11 years old I experienced a high mountain climbing with my friends. The mountain was high but the climate supported us. It was nice and sunny with very less cool breeze just passing by us. The sun just made us very thirsty as the temperature of the place was 31 degrees minimum and 38 degrees maximum. The coach chose this mountain and this climate with the season is because in winter we can’t climb in that much cold and not even in the monsoon season when it is wet so we had mountain climbing in summer which almost had made as dehydrated.


Urja – / Footscray City College Substation


Almost every Summer since I can remember, my family and I would travel down to Mornington Peninsula, but specifically Dromana. Whether or not we were with company, the day was always a blast. One particular warm Summer’s day, we arrived later than usual at around 5:00pm. It was still sunny outside because of daylight savings which made it even better. My sister and I jumped out of the car and raced to the shore. We dumped our stuff on the sand and grabbed our snorkels. The water was crystal clear and we saw loads of fish. After about an hour of snorkelling we decided to play in the sand. After 2 hours at the beach we were starving and we gobbled down our fish and chips. By that time it was getting dark and we jumped in the car for the long ride home. I fell asleep in the car and the rest was history.


– Gabriel / Footscray City College Substation

The Theatre


The theatre whether it be at school, at my dads work or any professional theatres I always feel at home and comfortable, the theatre is close to me because I enjoy performing/acting. I always feel a chill of excitement and nervousness when i enter any theatre and the smell of make up and sweat fills my nose even though i can’t actually smell it, I guess you could call it a smell memory if you can remember places you’ve seen why not things you’ve smelt? When the downbeat to an overture begins or the silent opening of a play the pre show jitters will fill my body even if I’m performing or not. The Theatre is a dear place to me it is one of the few places I can experiment with new things and be myself without the theatre I’d be lost.


– Darcy / Footscray City College Substation


Smell and taste


Those roses smelled liked the other roses.

The salad tasted like spicy jalapeno.

Those flowers smelled like roses.

The cake tasted like a chocolate.

The chicken tender breadcrumb tasted like breadcrumb with chicken.

The air smelled like fresh.

The grilled meats taste like barbecued lambs.

The baby cos lettuce tasted like regular lettuce.

The lemon tasted like sour lemons.

Those ice creams tasted a chocolate on a waffle cone.

The spring water tasted like pure water.

These smoked fishes tasted like cooked fishes.

The Marshmallow on two square-breads with chocolate were S’mores.

The habanero tasted like heat of citrusy.


– Ioannis / Footscray City College Substation

We just acted as if it didn’t exist


We never realised how important it was… We just acted as if it didn’t exist…

My mum says she remembers when worrying about a natural disaster would be at the back of her mind. That how it was almost impossible for one to effect her even in the slightest because of where she lived.

But the truth is that it’s our own fault…

She said when the first cyclone hit Melbourne, nobody was ready, it took thousands of casualties, tearing apart families and homes. It took months for people to get back on their feet, but a year later the second cyclone hit. People were now more aware of the catastrophic outcomes of an event like this, but had no time to prepare themselves. Though this time only talking the lives of a third of the original cyclone, this still left thousands homeless and distraught. These events began to occur from then onwards, often each time becoming more frequent and devastatingly destructive.

But that was 25 years ago.

Here we are now, it’s me, my dad, my mum and my brother all huddled together in the bunker, all completely silent. All I could hear outside was the crashing of the land above being torn apart violently and the terrifying whistling of the powerful winds. I had my headphone in to try and block out the noises but it was almost impossible. We are surrounded by our most precious objects, well as many as we could fit into out tiny bunker. There is a loud smash as a piece or debris outside flys into the door, my heart skips a beat and I jump, almost hitting my head.

We have been living in condition like these for many years, I was born and raised whist these events were happening, fooling me to believe that events such as these are normal and always have been. But no, these natural disasters were what Some call ‘man made’. We did this, we were given the warnings but ignored them as though they were nothing.

Children used to wish for things like the newest PlayStation or Xbox, the best soccer ball or soccer boots, to be able to play an instrument or to get a new bike.

These days you will find that most children’s wishes are to have a few months clean of disaster.

It’s kind of sad isn’t it.

To think this all could have been preventable.

People need to come to terms with how real climate change is, though in this short story I have exaggerated the effects, we still need to make a change or you never know. Something like this could happen.


– Will / Footscray City College Substation

Water and Cricket just don’t mix

map“Hey Tom” get the ball called Jack. So Tom reluctantly chased after the ball which was rolling away and they continued to play some cricket in their home town of Renmark. Jack steams in and bowls the ball fast and straight on target to hit the bin but Tom swings and makes contact which sends the ball flying into the river. The boys are both unhappy and wish the river wasn’t there. Luckily there it wasn’t too hard for them to get their hands on another ball. Later Tom says to jack “water and cricket just don’t mix” which jack warily agrees to.

The boys take a break and go down to the milk bar to get a pie and a Big M. They both sit by the river busy in watching their ball float away and their pies. Later they start playing again and one by one just about their whole year level is joining in. Competition for a bat is more fierce and picking the gaps in the field is almost impossible. They keep playing and more rules are constantly being made up to keep the game flowing. The game keeps going until everyone has been called in for dinner and by that time it is so dark that it is impractical to keep playing anyway.

They next day at school a Tom and Jack organise a big cricket game at the local cricket oval for later that night. “BBRRIINNGGG” the school bell rings and everyone rushes straight home to get out their favourite bats. At 4:00 about 20 boys are there ready to play and Tom even managed to rope in an Umpire (His younger brother). After lots of controversy the teams are finally settled on it took many attempts but finally the 2 captain’s way worked with Tom and Jack the captains.

The game starts and Jacks team is bowling first. Toms team get off to a good start and then collapse and end up with total of 56 of 10 overs which may be an alright total. Jacks team starts batting and have a terrible start of 8/15 of 5 overs. Jack comes to the crease and builds a good partnership with Max now they only need 6 of the last over. Max is on strike but can’t connect with the first 4 balls everyone is now nervous. Max finally hits one and they run Tom fields the ball and then throughs down the stumps while max is definitely out of his crease. There is one ball left and Jack is on strike and they still need 6 runs to win. The bowler comes in and bowls a full toss Jack connects and it looks like it’s going for six but someone catches it. Because of the unclear boundary it is hard to tell if he caught it over the boundary. Everyone is now questioning the umpire who responds with “What Happened? After lots of Arguing the game is declared a draw. The next day at school yesterday’s game was affirmed as the best game by people from both teams.

30 Years Later

“Are we there yet?” asked James “Nearly” replied Tom as they zoomed along the Freeway as they approach the end of the long drive from Melbourne.

“Are we there yet?” asked Mitch. “Nearly” replied Jack as they turned of the Freeway on the same route as Tom and James

Two cars pulled up just before the river crossing. “Hey Tom” called Jack. Tom looks around and immediately jumps out of the car to greet Jack. The two boys James and Mitch also jump out. “I can’t wait for the cricket match” says James “Yeah, my dad said it’s the best ground” replied Mitch. The boys then go and have a look around.

“It’s good to be back” Says Tom “Yeah, the river seems wider than I remember” replies Jack “True” agrees Tom. “ I remember the banks bursting but I didn’t think it was this significant. “What’s the Murray Gulf” yells Mitch. “What, the Murray Gulf” Tom and Jack yell out “Yeah” both the boys respond. Tom and Jack walk over and see a big official but temporary looking sign with the words “Murray Gulf”. They both look at each other with confused looks. Cars going the opposite way are flashing their indicators at them as if to notify something. The drive past a sign identical to the one at the river with the words “Murray Gulf”. There are sign warning them that the road is about to end. They didn’t believe it until they say they saw barricades. They stop the cars and jump out and again see the ‘Murray Gulf” sign.

Some in an official uniform comes up to them and asks them if there alright. They respond positively and but ask ”why is the road closed” he says haven’t you heard. Tom blankly says “No”. “The man replies well there has been massive flooding in the area. Then last night we people were woken up by water and then suddenly the whole area was underwater. We are yet to find the cause and how large the affected area is. For now we are just closing the area so unfortunately you will have to turn around.

They turn around and rent a room for the night. Later that night there is a news break with the headline “THE POLAR ICE CAPS MELT”. Then this Map pops up:


“What was first thought of a just flash flooding has been realised as the melting of the polar ice caps. This has caused a massive rise of sea levels which has taken over much of Australia including towns like Renmark and the port of Adelaide. The new seas in Australia have been named the “Murray Gulf” and the “Artesian Sea”. That’s all for now a more detailed report will be broadcasted later.

Everyone in the room is gobsmacked and are all staring around speechless. Tom once again says “water and cricket just don’t mix” which Jack wearily agrees to.

– Elijah / Footscray City College Substation