Goulburn's air quality was the worst in the world in January. A friend needed help to breathe for the first time in her life. Talking to her doctor she broke down, "It's so devastating watching everything burn," she sobbed. He nodded, "I am hearing this from many patients - the loss of the places we love."
On Sunday, locals gathered to hear Ian Fraser OAM, ABC natural history broadcaster and conservationist, talk about the impact of the fires on plants and animals. When asked whether burnt out ecosystems will recover, he choked up. "Sorry, I just need a moment," he said quietly.
Ian was unable to hold his grief over the devastating loss of wild places in the fires. "Climate change did not start the fires," he said regaining his composure. "But climate change is intensifying the conditions. Nature's recovery is a wait-and-see. Reducing emissions is a must-do-now."
Last week, Professor Adam Blakers, expert on renewable energy and energy policy spoke to a packed crowd at the Soldiers Club. What he said was astounding.
Goulburn has the best combined wind and solar reserves in Australia and with proximity to the grid, could become a billion dollar per year renewable energy investment hub. Technically the grid is the problem. But for the same price tag as the sports rorts scandal, the Federal Government could build a high voltage cable to deliver clean energy from this region into the Sydney market.
The suffering of people and places will continue in a coal economy. The biggest obstacle to changing that is gridlocked politicians.