Prideaux, Margi

Across the world people are demanding urgent climate action They rightly have high expectations of their governments. The media and politicians often shorthand this action to ‘net zero’ but limiting action to emissions alone fatally misses what people want. Yes, people, from across the world and from all walks of life, need a resilient future secured for our children’s children, but they also want their communities to be safe from disaster right now. Net zero does not provide that present-tense safety. Net zero is only about preventing things from getting exponentially worse.

In 2019 and 2020 fires ripped across Kangaroo Island’s iconic landscape in the catastrophic continent-wide event known as Black Summer. In that fatal season, wildfire destroyed a globally unprecedented percentage of continental forest biome. Across Australia 190,000 square kilometres were decimated, the lives of 33 people tragically lost, over 3,000 houses destroyed, and more than 100,000 farm animals and three billion native animals wiped out. Confronted by a hellfire that burned too hot to contain, even the oldest souls within Kangaroo Island’s small community gravely whispered, ‘never before.’

The real strength of author and academic Margi Prideaux’s book, FIRE: A Message from the Edge of Climate Catastrophe, is that it not only captures the emotional journey she and her husband experienced after losing their home and farm during that tragic season, but also chronicles a community’s journey through trauma and climate grief; from disaster into stark awareness of climate chaos; from climate apathy to front-line witnesses of a global climate crisis. A journey billions more people will suffer as climate disasters escalate.

Fire:  is a love letter to a small community who has a message for the world. The time for hollow words and targets and plans is over. Communities need to take back their control and consciously adapt to living in a world with more apocalyptic wildfires, killer heat domes, catastrophic rain bombs, lethal floods and mudslides, deadly droughts, and violent sandstorms. Essential reading for anyone interested not just in humanity’s future but our present. ‘We have experienced the beginning of the climate change curve and we cannot hand this hell to tomorrow.’

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Wakefield Press, December 2022.  364 pages, paperback.