#Travel

T I M E  &  T I D E.

12th May 2020

“Time and tide keep on pushing and pulling
Pushing and pulling on you and me
Sometimes our flood runs high,
Sometimes we're both left bone dry
Dreaming of the big blue sea!
Time and tide wait for no one
Time and tide wait for no one
Time and tide keep on pushing and pulling.”

These are lyrics from beloved Australian singer-songwriter Paul Kelly’s song ‘Time and Tide.’ I listened to his Greatest Hits CD every day for a month in January 2020, as I drove around his beautiful country that was still being devastated by the relentless wildfires that were burning since September of 2019.

33 people were killed – including four firefighters – more than 11 million hectares of bush, forest and parks burned and 1 billion animals are estimated dead. On the 1st of January, the air quality index in Canberra – at 4,091 - ranked the worst in the world, 20 times higher than the hazardous level, with smoke later reaching as far as New Zealand and South America.

 

Record-breaking temperatures and months of severe drought fuelled the bushfires, though uncertainty of their exact cause and the climate change debate persists. Regardless of the different arguments and their proponents, one thing remains clear; this is a climate crisis.

 

I read somewhere that “this would be the summer that changes everything,” and I really do hope it is the case. More than 1,600 firefighters worked to slow the spread of fires - some deployed from overseas brigades - and people from both the national and international community responded with an overwhelming amount of support, by donating, protesting and helping in any way available to them.

Over my five weeks in three different states of Australia – Victoria, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory – I witnessed first-hand the severity of the drought and the aftermath of some of the bushfires. I also spent time in places where the land had not been affected by the fires, though the morale of the people there certainly had. With this series of images, I hope to contrast the visible devastation of the bushfires and the drought with scenes of a seemingly unaffected seaside summer, to offer a picture of the state of the world today; where many people are living in some form of environmental, political, social or health disaster, and others remain safe and sheltered – for now.

 

If there is one thing that the fires have reinforced to all of us, it is both the unpredictability and strength of Mother Nature. Like Paul Kelly’s lyrics suggest, the earth isn’t waiting for us to act, and that is precisely why we need to.

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©2023 by Marcus Berg.