The flood (in my laundry)

The flood. It started with a trickle of water, and then the level rose. I’m not talking about Queensland or Pakistan; I’m talking about the flood in my laundry. The washing machine was bung. That much was clear. With the excited dogs looking on, the tradesman lifted the machine and examined its underside. He said a hosepipe was old and worn and had popped off.

“It needs a new pipe,” he said. “I’ve screwed it back on as well as I can but it’s only a matter of time before it pops off again. You might get one more wash out of it, or ten, but it will definitely come off again.”

He left, and I did a load of washing. We’ve done two or three loads of washing since then. And you know what? Because everything seems normal, it’s quite possible to forget, or at least file away in the back of the mind, that one’s washing machine is in urgent need of a new hosepipe.

All of which, I think, is a great metaphor for the global response to climate change. The scientists are like the polite tradesman. They take a careful look and turn to us and say: “Right. There is definitely a problem. We’re not sure exactly when or how this problem is going to play out, but unless we take action now, disaster is quite likely.”

We digest the information, but everything seems to look normal and there are other pressing demands on our time, so we file the information away at the bottom of the “in tray” of our minds.

Of course the metaphor only stretches so far. In the case of the washing machine, the remedy is clear. In the case of global warming, the nature of an effective response is as clear as mud. Grow vegetables? Sit on top of a coal-fired power stations singing We Shall Not Be Moved? Write a letter to the local member? Just enjoy oneself because the world is going to the dogs?

If you’d like to do something but you’re not sure what, Bathurst Community Climate Action Network will be holding its first meeting for the year next Monday at 5pm in the Committee Room in the Bathurst Regional Council chambers. The meeting will attempt to nut out a strategy for action for this area. All welcome.

Tracy Sorensen is the publicity officer for Bathurst Community Climate Action Network (BCCAN). Visit

Written for The Western Advocate, the daily newspaper for Bathurst, NSW, Australia.

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