Guest Blog by Amin Chehelnabi
When I saw what happened in September 2019 to March 2020, I was overwhelmed by how much damage the bushfires had done to Australia as a nation. It was a period known as Black Summer, which was a very apt name, and a necessary one. Hundreds of homes were destroyed, not including the other buildings – business, industrial or otherwise – destroyed as well. In terms of surface area, hundreds of thousands of hectares was burned and over one billion animals were estimated to have died, and even some species were thought to have faced extinction.
Here is a link to an article by the World Meteorological Organization with regard to Black Summer, for your perusal: https://public.wmo.int/en/media/news/australia-suffers-devastating-fires-after-hottest-driest-year-record.
The damage Black Summer had done to the native wildlife of Australia was heartbreaking to me. Over ten thousand koalas were thought to have perished. Here’s the link to an article by ABC, which I recommend: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-02-18/ten-thousand-koalas-could-have-died-nsw-bushfires/11975378.
When I had seen the damage the bush fires had done, a new kind of fire started in my heart. I could not ignore the desire to write something, anything, that would help me understand how such a thing was even possible, or that it even happened. So when I was invited to write for Multispecies Cities, I had the means to share a story that involved the consequences of how much we were damaging the climate globally. I wrote “Wandjina” with the intention of bringing awareness to what would happen if we ignored the damage being done to the world’s climate. I was also inspired by the activism of Greta Thunberg who had done her own work to tackle climate change, and someone who definitely has a fierce fire in her own heart.
“Wandjina” is set in a future Australia where the bushfires are much, much worse than Black Summer. Working on this story required a lot of research, and I discovered information on how veterinarians and staffers at Zoos handle animals, including the proper way to hold certain native species so as not to injure them. Focusing on this element of caring for wildlife had given me a newfound knowledge about the responsibilities we have to take care of our world and of the creatures we share this world with.
My main character is an Iranian woman called Tara who, feeling disillusioned by the governments’ lack of action to help the native species of Australia, took it upon herself to organize a crew to go and save these animals from certain death. If I were able to talk to Tara and ask her how she felt about it all, I wouldn’t doubt that she would be as fierce and as adamant as Greta holding up a sign outside the Swedish Parliament that read Skolstrejk för klimatet (School strike for climate).
Because it’s a global issue regardless of whether we accept it or not, climate change can’t be ignored. Our feelings and opinions won’t change the inevitable conclusion that ignoring the damage done will do, and it’s up to all of us – in our own creative way – to help in making a difference and bringing awareness to others.
Amin Chehelnabi is an Australian-born gay Iranian with a strong interest in the speculative fiction field. He has been a Collection/Anthology Judge for the Aurealis Awards, and a First Reader for Lightspeed Magazine. He’s also an alumnus of the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Workshop at UC San Diego (2014), and a recipient of the Octavia E. Butler Scholarship Award. His publications include a horror story published with Innsmouth Free Press, which received an Honorable Mention in The Best Horror of the Year, Volume Seven (Edited by Ellen Datlow), and was a panelist for a three-day conference called Shaping Change: Remembering Octavia E. Butler through Archives, Art, and Worldmaking, which took place in 2016 at the Cross-Cultural Center at UC San Diego. He also has a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts, majoring in sculpture, and loves cats.
World Weaver Press
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