Climate change is not some far-off problem

Rachael Haynes. Picture: Supplied
Rachael Haynes. Picture: Supplied

During January of 2020, I remember very clearly standing on Birchgrove Oval, arguably one of the most picturesque grounds in Australia, nestled in an enclave of Sydney Harbour. I was there to play a game for my local club, Sydney Cricket Club.

Sydney at that point in the summer was choking on smoke haze, the sky was burnt orange and you could barely see the outfield, let alone the surrounding harbour. It rained silt as we attempted to play.

For so many of us, and for so many generations of Australians, a game of cricket has been a quintessential part of our Aussie summer.

But thinking back on that game, with the smoke and ash, I wonder what kind of Australia we are headed for.

Beyond my own experience on the field, the images and stories of people and places that were left devastated during the 2019-20 bushfires had a profound effect on me.

Seeing people lose their homes, their farms, and, tragically for some, their loved ones was devastating. Not to mention the millions of hectares burnt out and the toll it took on communities, wildlife, and our emergency services.

That summer was a tangible experience that highlighted the consequences of climate change.

The worsening of impacts of extreme weather, like drought, flooding, heat waves and bush fires are something that impacts all of us, no matter where we live.

We can see it with our own eyes now, not as a far-off problem for someone else to deal with. It's left me deeply concerned about where we are and what's ahead.

That first-hand experience of what climate change will do to our country has been brought home even more as my partner Leah and I await the arrival of our first child in October.

Getting ready to have our first baby has really got my thinking beyond myself.

I'm concerned about the world we're going to leave for our children to grow up in.

I find myself thinking about what kind of legacy that will be.

Are we making a big enough effort to address climate change?

What will his life look like in 50 years? And what has been my role in that?

That's why I've chosen to use what voice I have to stand up and say, I want better.

For my son, for my family, for my community, and for the generations of young cricketers who will come after me.

I want to be part of making sure that the future we're building is one where we can keep the people and places we love safe.

I want to make sure, when my son is old enough to hold a bat, summer cricket is still something we can all enjoy.

Rachael Haynes is vice-captain of the Southern Stars national cricket team.

This story Climate change is not some far-off problem | Our Future first appeared on The Canberra Times.