Now is not the time to be a Quiet Australian, says Broulee GP

Dr Michelle Hamrosi 30 January 2020 156
Broulee beach

Broulee beach and island beyond: the impact of the fires is clear along the South Coast. Photo: Supplied.

As we welcomed 2020, we were forced from our home in Broulee as a raging fire approached. When we returned a few days later, we were grateful to find it was still standing.

That night, around the dinner table, my seven-year-old daughter said, “I just want it to be normal again”.

“Me too,” I replied, thinking, I’m not sure things will ever be ‘normal’ again.

Miss 7 looked pensively into the distance as food went cold on her plate. “I’m just imagining the future,” she said. “Everything is dead and brown. There is no food. There are mountains of plastic and the air is filled with pollution.”

I want to tell her it won’t happen, but I can’t. If we don’t act on climate change, this will be her future.

At 6:00 am on New Year’s Eve, we were woken by our landline ringing and mobile phones beeping. The ‘Fires Near Me’ app sent a warning and an automated messaged from the RFS played a message informing us there was a fire in the Mogo area. Mogo was still a long way from us, so we weren’t panicking. To be safe, we began to implement our bushfire plan.

Then the power and phones went out. My husband, who was on call for Moruya Hospital anaesthetics, decided to go to work as he needed to be contactable.

Outside it was heating up, a strange, hot dry wind gave me an uneasy feeling. I ran to our neighbours for support. They urged me to prepare to evacuate with them to the beach.

But moments before going the winds changed and in front of our eyes the fireball regressed. Without dependable communication lines, we decided to evacuate initially to Moruya and then to Batemans Bay – all up, we were away for six days.

Since returning home, my daughter’s words have haunted me. The future she is frightened of is already here.

Everything around us is black and smouldering. We’ve had food shortages and our water is unsafe to drink and swim in. Our air is thick with hazardous pollutants. The sand is covered in black ash and piles of burnt leaves. People have lost their homes, properties and businesses. Millions of animals have died.

I’ve been concerned about the growing impact of climate change on our health and our country. But this experience has made it so much more real and palpable. We are being impacted NOW by climate change, and it’s only going to get much worse.

I’m really concerned for the future of my children and whether Australia will even be a liveable place for them.

I’m a local GP, and since we re-opened the Monday after the fires, without power, phones or internet, I’ve seen many patients suffering the impacts of this disaster – smoke exposure, exacerbations of asthma and emphysema, acute anxiety, panic attacks, stress, grief and even suicide.

Clean air, clean water and a liveable climate underpin our very survival. These are the rights of basic health and they’re being eroded before our eyes. Climate change is not about belief, it’s about science.

Let me ask you this: imagine I told you that for the spot on your skin that we biopsied, 97 per cent of pathologists agreed it was melanoma. Would you have it removed, or would you take a 3 per cent chance and leave it?

Many politicians, including our local leaders, are telling us that right now is not the time to talk about climate change.

I cannot think of a better time.

I call on all levels of government, regardless of political alignment, to learn from this climate-fueled disaster and take immediate action. Listen to our scientific and emergency leaders. Listen to the medical community. Declare a climate emergency and get on with the job we pay you to do. It is your duty of care to the Australian public.

The immediate threat of fires has eased, so please do what you can to help our communities recover. Please give generously. But just as importantly, do what you can to help put pressure on our government. Write or email your local representatives. Join a climate activist group like Australian Parents for Climate Action. Climate change is a health emergency. Make no mistake – our health, our livelihoods, our communities and our environment are at risk.

The fires have shown us that risk will not be upon us at a future date, unknown. It is here, right now. We can change course, but we must do it now. Collectively, we can demand it. If we work together, anything is possible.

Now is not the time to be a quiet Australian.

Dr Michelle Hamrosi is a South Coast GP and lives at Broulee with her young family.

Original Article published by Dr Michelle Hamrosi on About Regional.

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156 Responses to Now is not the time to be a Quiet Australian, says Broulee GP
Capital Retro Capital Retro 10:54 am 10 Feb 20

What is a “Quiet Australian”?

Capital Retro Capital Retro 12:17 pm 08 Feb 20

Hey, Malcolmo Oz aka GrumpyMark, have you read Bushfires in Australia yet? That book clearly defines where bushfires have been been before which I am sure people who lost their homes in the recent bushfires were aware of so what other reason could there be for them to build there except for a lifestyle choice?

Thanks for referring to me as a low-life spurious opportunist too – it goes well with vandal climate change denier, names that I have been called without challenge from the RA moderators.

Benjamin Rose Benjamin Rose 10:26 pm 07 Feb 20

How the hell can anyone be a "Quiet Australian"? Did voting become voluntary in Australia and I just missed the memo?

Luke Rollinson Luke Rollinson 8:09 pm 07 Feb 20

Here here

Milton Ingram Milton Ingram 5:47 pm 07 Feb 20

1.3% of 400 ppm of CO2. One would hope a qualified Dr. would understand this. Sadly no as usual.

Kay Vee Kay Vee 6:40 am 06 Feb 20

Great article. It is scary and all I hear from the government is blah blah blah.

Frida Forsberg Frida Forsberg 10:18 pm 05 Feb 20

Thank you for speaking out about climate change. The time to act is now. Save the only planet we can live on.

Emma Gilberg Emma Gilberg 4:48 pm 05 Feb 20

Thank you Dr Hamrosi. As a fellow GP I am also deeply concerned about the health of our community. With the science irrefutable and the Australian Medical Association declaring a Climate Health Emergency, This is not the time for political games.

Kath Cara Kath Cara 3:04 pm 05 Feb 20

Good on Dr Hamrosi for speaking out on such a crucial issue! The climate crisis is real and will affect all of us.

Jay Asper Jay Asper 12:42 pm 05 Feb 20

We have observational evidence that climate change is happening and beyond the limits of natural events. It’s real, it’s happening, we need action to prevent the worst extremes in global warming

Capital Retro Capital Retro 11:25 am 05 Feb 20

“The evidence for anthropogenic climate change is robust, …..”

But is has never been tested nor have any of the other “carbon causes climate change” theories.

Emilie Clout Emilie Clout 10:46 am 05 Feb 20

To all of the climate skeptics who have posted comments- nothing in science is ever settled. A hypothesis is posed, tested and retested. Everytime the theory is tested and returns the expected result our confidence is increased. We can not say that gravity is settled, though we accept that it is real, measurable and predictable. The evidence for anthropogenic climate change is robust, and has very near unanimous support in the the field. Therefore like cancer and tobacco we should decrease carbon emissions right away.

    Jay Asper Jay Asper 12:39 pm 05 Feb 20

    Em Ilie indeed. The science is in. There is no doubt and therefore zero oxygen should be given to now discredited views. We have too much work to do.

    Funny how the denialist playbook is exactly the same as the Tobacco lobby campaigns from the 1990s, and is actually run by some of the same people, funded by the fossil fuel industry.

    Greg Long Greg Long 1:13 pm 05 Feb 20

    "While in denial about global warming, people don’t have to think about anything, inform themselves, change their consumption patterns, becoming actively involved in reforms, or alter their behaviour in any way. Politicians with transference denial can absolve themselves of any moral imperative to take the necessary policy initiatives that scientists say are mandatory for our species to survive." (…/29/the_odd_body_denial/)

    Jakub Dworniczak Jakub Dworniczak 5:24 pm 05 Feb 20

    Absolutely! High time to act on climate to protect ourselves and also our wallets as costs of inaction already are huge!

Malcolmo Oz Malcolmo Oz 7:06 pm 04 Feb 20

Interesting excerpt from the Prime Minister speech in moving the Bushfire Condolence Motion in the House of Representatives today:

“…. These fires have been fueled by one of the worst droughts on record, changing in our climate and a build up in fuel amongst other factors.

Our summers are getting longer, drier and hotter, that’s what climate change does …”

    stevew77 stevew77 10:13 pm 09 Feb 20

    Yep…climate changes over 1000s of years. We appear to be in the next start of a natural 500 year cycle in which the last peak was during the medaevil warm period ( the same one michael manns hockey stick graph ignores ).

Capital Retro Capital Retro 6:15 pm 04 Feb 20

The little girl in the leading image looks a lot like Greta. What an amazing coincidence.

grim123 grim123 1:10 pm 03 Feb 20

So, a 16 year old autistic kid and a GP walked into something they weren’t qualified for….

Also, no, your daughter did not say that. Stop telling lies.

stevew77 stevew77 12:08 pm 03 Feb 20

Hmm……as a man of science and engineering, it concerns me people dont appear to have looked at the actual facts.

A fact – Over the last 20 years, there has been no significant increase in global temperature. Look it up.

A fact – there has been significant obstructing of hazard reduction burning over the last 10 years at least in most of the areas around the South Coast and the high country. If you dont hazard reduction burn, you have massive fuel build up.

A fact – according to studies I have seen by CSIRO and others, eucalyptus ( on average ) drops 5 ton of debris per acre per year. Allow for 15% rotting away per year, and you still have 4.25 tons per acre per year. 10 years of no hazard reduction burning = 42.5 tons of debris to burn. Eucalyptus has same BTU thermal output of brown coal when it burns.

Basic physics says more fuel, hotter fire.

Climate has been changing for 1000s of years, the issue isnt imaginary run away man made climate change, its lack of hazard reduction burning.

Really really simple.

    astro2 astro2 10:01 pm 03 Feb 20

    Steve, “a man of science and engineering”, c’mon mate who are you trying to kid? Your ‘facts” (opinions) really need some checking don’t they.
    Firstly, a fiction – “Over the last 20 years there has been no significant increase in global temperature. Look it up” Yes, suggest you do: Or you could try the CSIRO, the Bureau of Meteorology or any genuine scientific body really. Secondly, your now debunked fiction about hazard reduction burning. Start with this: Basic physics says hotter, dryer climate, fiercer fires. Climate science has forecast everything about the unprecedented fires. Your attempts at pretending otherwise are, indeed, “really really simple”.

    grim123 grim123 9:27 am 04 Feb 20

    Imagine using the ABC, and the opinion of the bloke holding the bag for lack of hazard reduction as your source. LOL.

    Gilavon Gilavon 6:28 pm 04 Feb 20

    Yes, Ice Ages and Warm Ages have been occurring since planet earth initially cooled down .

    Gilavon Gilavon 6:31 pm 04 Feb 20

    Tidal measurements at Australia Height Datum Pinchgut since 1900 demonstrate no rise in sea level. An inconvenient fact for climate warriors.

    Malcolmo Oz Malcolmo Oz 7:59 pm 04 Feb 20

    Damn … like shooting fish in a bucket

    Acton Acton 5:36 pm 05 Feb 20

    Malcolmo Oz… I read that report which says “Sea level continues to rise at a rate of about one-eighth of an inch per year.” That is 0.3175cm per year. If that rate was sustained then it would take over 314 years for sea levels to rise just 1.0 metre. In the expanse of time ocean levels have risen and fallen regularly by greater amounts and humans walked across the Bering Strait from Asia to settle in America. Don’t panic.

    stevew77 stevew77 9:53 pm 09 Feb 20

    Tell me…why has there been no significant global temp increase in the last 20 years? If climate change is a runaway process, then logically temps should keep going up…..not be stable.

    And why has the infamous temperature “hockey stick” graph been shown to be completely wrong and discredited? Can you explain to everyone the medaevil warm period and why it shows a 500 year cyclical temp trend?

    And how is it that every IPCC model predicted outcome been completely wrong?

    Any why did tge BOM homogenize the Rutherglen temp data that showed a vooling pattern , to then create what appears to be an artificial warming pattern?

    I prefer proof….

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 10:42 pm 03 Feb 20

    And it has all happened before and will continue to happen again. People need to turn off their socialist media and read some history books.

    astro2 astro2 8:29 am 04 Feb 20

    Oh dear “socialist media” is that the same “socialist media: that supports vaccination? Is that another leftie plot you disagree with and therefore don’t accept the science? The facts of the matter are that, although bushfires are a common feature of the Australian landscape, the extent of these fires is unprecedented. Your problem lies in trying to equate science with politics. If you can untangle that false connection then you won’t need to keep justifying denialism.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 6:28 pm 05 Feb 20

    I suggest you ask Malcolmo Oz for a copy of that CSIRO book I suggested he gets. You will then find that the current fires are not unprecedented.

    stevew77 stevew77 10:08 pm 09 Feb 20

    The fires this year are bad because of the lack of hazard reduction burning.

    Here is a simple physics test – get 2 piles of same wood…the first one is 2 kg, the second is 10 kg.

    Light them and blow on them with a fan at the same rate for 5 mins and record the temperature from 1 m away.

    Now which one burns hottest?

    Physics says the 10kg burns hottests as it has the most fuel.

    Now consider years of fuel build up in our state and federal forests due to insufficient hazard reduction burning and what logically will the outcome be when a fire starts?

    Malcolmo Oz Malcolmo Oz 2:39 pm 04 Feb 20

    @stevew77 … I’m not sure what field of science you come from, but these 394 scientists (as at 0600AEST 4-Feb) with research expertise across the fields of climate, fire and weather science disagree with you …

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 6:13 pm 04 Feb 20

    Why won’t you and your colleagues read about the historical bushfire facts? Science has nothing to do with it. If you say they “disagree with me” then they are ignorant because I have the historical facts complied by the CSIRO. Are you going to call the CSIRO climate change deniers too?

    Malcolmo Oz Malcolmo Oz 7:53 am 05 Feb 20

    Sure post a link to the journal article in which the data has been published – I’m sure the bona fides of the publisher(s) will be verifiable

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 9:37 am 05 Feb 20

    Did you miss the bit in a previous comment where I said “turn off your socialst media and read some history books”? It is clear that the people promoting the theme that these fires are “unprecedented” and their disciples only give credibility to what is accessible online. Gone are the days when research meant going to a library and that’s where the indisputable facts are.

    Accordingly, I can’t give you a link but if you go to a library and get a copy of “Bushfires in Australia”, R H Luke and A G McArthur, CSIRO Division of Forest Research ISBN 0 642 02341 7 you will be informed correctly.

    Maybe then we can have a meaningful discussion.

    Malcolmo Oz Malcolmo Oz 2:03 pm 05 Feb 20

    I not sure what you mean by “your socialist media” – just as all right wingers are not climate change deniers, not all climate change believers are socialist lefties). Nevertheless, I’ll turn it off, if you promise to keep up to date with research and current thinking. The book to which you refer, was written in 1978 and republished in 1986 with corrections (
    I think a more relevant publication from the CSIRO, is their submission entitled “Bushfires in Australia” prepared for the 2009 Senate Inquiry into Bushfires in Australia ( – this is a link to a PDF version of the submission … if you don’t trust the link go to website and in the search box, in the top right corner, type 09/355).
    I draw your attention to section 5 “Climate Change (ToR i)” and in particular, 5.3 “Observed trends in fire weather” and 5.4 “Potential changes in future fire weather risk”.
    I do apologise if it bothers you that this very credible publication is available online, but even as a “boomer”, I recognise the need to keep up with the times.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 6:55 pm 05 Feb 20

    Socialist media was meant to be a play on words with a tilt to the Twitterati who are predominantly “socialist lefties”. For goodness sake, lighten up – the sky isn’t really falling.

    I know when Bushfires in Australia was first published – I have one. I’m not really into “looking for the fifth leg on the cat” stuff either so why don’t you read the original book, compare it to the later amendments and “discovery” and report back to this thread. I’m open minded to new twists in the narrative.

    I’m not “bothered” by anything you dig up, by the way.

    GrumpyMark GrumpyMark 12:37 am 06 Feb 20

    Why would I read a book that is over 40 yerars old to get a current picture? I’m not really interested in your kind of history, I’m more concerned about the current impact climate change is having. Convenient how you choose to ignore a much more recent (2009) publication from the CSIRO. Is that because the narrative doesn’t match your dismissive rhetoric?

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 10:11 am 06 Feb 20

    The matter being discussed is whether these fires were “unprecedented” and the factual accounts outlined in the 40 year old book clearly states they were not. It’s not about your perception that climate change is involved.

    Perhaps you can quote me the differences between the 40 year old book and the 2009 version where “the narrative doesn’t match my dismissive rhetoric”

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 2:21 pm 05 Feb 20

    Have you checked the bona fides of the CSIRO yet Malcomo?

    astro2 astro2 7:50 pm 05 Feb 20

    “Science has nothing do with it.” Well no for denialists it sure doesn’t.

Wes Dempsey Wes Dempsey 11:29 am 03 Feb 20

Climate change!!! HAHAHAHAHA!!!!

Tyrone Lace Tyrone Lace 8:41 am 03 Feb 20

How many humans were involved in the destruction of the ice age. Or was it just a natural occurrence of global warming

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 10:02 am 03 Feb 20

    What I don't understand is where all the water went, when it ran off the edge of the world.

    Michelle Fischer Michelle Fischer 11:22 pm 03 Feb 20

    Please don't take the micky out of people that seem to have silly responses to articles like this. Tyrone, and all people want to be heard and deserve to have their thoughts addressed with respect. Hopefully then, we might be able to see change. Things are so frightening right now. Lets be kind to one another.

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 12:03 pm 06 Feb 20

    Michelle Fischer (This is a general comment; not only referring to the comment I replied to.) I am willing to respect thoughtful arguments, but many of the comments against the research that shows that global warming is real, are based in no facts and when these facts are asked for are not forth coming. All the research that has been presented, peer reviewed and published by scientists who spend their life studying the problem, means nothing to these people. These people ignore all that as they know better than the scientists that study the problem. Then they say it's only a 'theory', revealing how deep their level of ignorance. Didn't they ever go to school? People give the facts, they give links to assist these people to become better informed. Sceptics is the wrong word, for that implies some level of thought. These people are just ignorant and don't want to be better informed; basically in the same way that flat Earthers were; hence my ridiculous reply to a ridiculous comment. It's no use giving a factual answer as they are not interested in factual answers; they want nothing to change and their life to go on as it has been, and somehow think nothing will change if they don't believe things are changing and they as a human are not the cause of any problems, so no solutions are needed. Answers like mine come from frustration at the amount of immovable ignorance in the community. It comes to a point where ignorance is hard to tell from trolling. The comment I replied to might not even be real, as it could even be a trolling comment to stir up a reply. Great trolling territory this. Comments like that can't be taken seriously; so hence my low comment on the same level as what I was replying to. After all the research over many years by hard working scientists, insulting comments don't deserve the respect you are giving them, and I wonder where you are coming from when you make it.

Acton Acton 7:38 am 03 Feb 20

If one chooses to build their home in the bush, in close proximity to and surrounded by highly flammable native trees, then one is putting themselves at greater risk when inevitable bush fires approach. This is not climate change, but a lifestyle choice that impacts on health and safety, just like smoking, drinking or over eating. This should be especially obvious to a GP.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 7:21 pm 04 Feb 20

    Then they demand compensation because they chose to not insure their property.

    astro2 astro2 8:26 pm 05 Feb 20

    Acton – “This is not climate change but a lifestyle choice…”. According to the RFS it, actually, is climate change. If I were you, with an attitude like that, I’d stay right away from anywhere on the south coast. You’d be as popular as a fart in a lift.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 7:38 am 10 Feb 20

    Building a house in the bush is caused by climate change? You are deluded.

    GrumpyMark GrumpyMark 7:58 am 10 Feb 20

    What no can me back at astro2’s comment Acton and CapitalRetro? Could it be that even you realise your specious and unsubstantiated generalisations were over the top and out of step with the rest of Australia who have been very generous towards every victim of these tragic fires – without Checking their political alignment.

    GrumpyMark GrumpyMark 8:05 am 10 Feb 20

    Damn autocorrect – ‘can me back’ = ‘comeback’

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 10:53 am 10 Feb 20

    Have you read “Bushfires in Australia” yet?

    GrumpyMark GrumpyMark 8:00 am 07 Feb 20

    Moderator – I see you have chosen not to publish my response. I find it interesting that you don’t publish my comment calling these two posters “low lifes” yet you actually allowed them to publish their offensive (and totally unsubstantiated) comments … you do realise that there will be people directly affected and traumatised by the fires (through no fault of their own because they were in the path of the fire) who read these comments. Congratulations on allowing these slurs on innocent people while not allowing a response designed to call such posts for what they are.

    GrumpyMark GrumpyMark 9:17 am 07 Feb 20

    I’m going to try again. Apparently my original comment posted a couple of days ago was deemed inappropriate by the moderator because of my description of the type of people who would make specious (“If one chooses to build their home in the bush, in close proximity to and surrounded by highly flammable native trees, then one is putting themselves at greater risk when inevitable bush fires approach.” You have evidence this doctor did this?) and unsubstantiated (“they demand compensation because they chose to not insure their property”) generalisations that would make Alan Jones tear up with demagogic pride.
    Fortunately, millions of Australians don’t share your warped attitude to this tragedy and those affected buy it, as they have opened their hearts, homes and wallets to support the many victims whose only “fault” was that they happened to be in the path of a fire. While you may think you are in the majority when it comes to refuting climate change, I can assure you (and I don’t need stats to support it), you are in the minority of people who thinks it’s appropriate to use the misfortune of others to further your own cause.

Phillip Colebrook Phillip Colebrook 6:48 am 03 Feb 20

were do these things come from get back under your rock and stay there.

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