Whitlam Institute

What Matters 2019 Shortlist

What Matters 2019 Shortlist

The Air is Different Here

The Air is Different Here

Winner Year 11/12

Mia Horsfall

Year 11, Frensham School

The air is different there.

It hangs, still and silent in the frosted dawn.

It's waiting.

Any minute now, the early winter sun will crack over the horizon and spill light into the chasms gouged between the mountain peaks. Shadows, pale and long will stretch over rooftops and pine trees and the snow coating the ground will become a cascade of oranges and pinks reflecting off the faces of the children on their way to school.

The creek is running now.

Sprinting, in fact, in a desperate bid to escape the ice so determined to enslave it for the next seven months.

The deer don't mind this, because at last there's a partner equally matched for swiftness.

So they race, their cloven hooves hardly touching the ground, the faces of the foxes small and darting amongst the white clearings.

Up above, the skies stretch a wide expanse, their colours captivating children and adults alike, safe-guarding the winter to come.

This world is the one I knew. I knew the short days and breathless mornings. I knew the deer and the foxes and the creek. Above all else, I knew the mountains. I knew their enormity, and their white-tipped peaks and the sharp shadows they cast in the afternoon sun, a geometric anomaly against the prairies laid at their feet. I knew their meaning, their presence, the people they inspire.

650 000 years since carbon dioxide levels have been this high.

2018: hottest year on record.

½ of the coral reefs dead in the last 30 years.

1 000 000 species facing extinction.

200 000 000 people displaced by climate change by 2050.

10 years to change.

For many, it is difficult to understand the severity of the situation from numbers on the page. For this generation, we don't need to. We see the consequences.

The climate strikes which students across the world have been attending for the past months are not a request for action.

They are a demand.

They are a demand for a world where polar bears, orangutans, turtles, penguins, the Amazon and coral reefs will not be the stuff of legends we tell our children at bedtime.

They are a demand for the government, servants of the people, to carry out the actions needed for the continuation of a world we will be proud to pass on to the next generation.

They are a demand for our children to be given the chance to keep their chins tilted up, looking out onto a world brimming with future.

The air is different here.

It tumbles around itself, drunk and stumbling in the heat, imprinting the smell of eucalyptus and dust into every crevice of the earth.

The fields stretch, their browns and reds and muted greens rising to meet the sky at the horizon, the blue as vast a realm as the ground below it.

Oceans, blue and eager roar to greet the jagged cliffs and the clouds above are mirrored in the whitecaps of the waves.

Dolphins dip, in and out of the water, a delight to all on shore.

This is my home. This is our home. It deserves to matter.

Bibliography : Ecotricity.co.uk. (2017). Six scary facts about climate change. [online] Available at: https://www.ecotricity.co.uk/news/news-archive/2017/six-scary-facts-about-climate-change [Accessed 2 May 2019].

Climate Change: Vital Signs of the Planet. (2019). Climate Change Evidence: How Do We Know?. [online] Available at: https://climate.nasa.gov/evidence/ [Accessed 2 May 2019].