What one dad really wanted on Father's Day

Dr Luke Mitchell with his children - Lucinda, Hugo and Poppy.

Dr Luke Mitchell with his children - Lucinda, Hugo and Poppy.

What do I want for Father's Day?

Socks? No thanks. Jocks? Are you serious!? But pancakes ... definitely. I'll take those, with a side of homemade cards and adorable keepsakes my children have created.

But when I find a moment, I remember this is the start of the fire season - a month early. Some families will have spent Father's Day in makeshift homes, campers or tents. Others are missing their dads, who didn't survive the bushfires.

Fatherhood is about nurturing and protecting your children. What do we do with the knowledge our children will be most affected by the fallout of our pandemic and climate crisis? If our children were diagnosed with a debilitating disease, we would demand the best treatment. It would be unthinkable to stand by and let them suffer.

This is exactly what we, as a nation, are doing with climate change.

My wife and I are doctors, and know climate change is a massive threat to our health. We saw this firsthand as we choked through the smoke from unprecedented bushfires, saw exhausted firefighters head into deadly fires, and experienced the terror of fires near us.

I slept in my local hospital during two state-of-emergency weeks earlier this year. I saw the flames come within 150m of our hospital. The memory of having to watch my family evacuate without me still makes me sick to the stomach.

When I diagnose a disease based on the symptoms, I treat the cause. Worsening bushfires are a clear symptom of climate change, and we have to treat the root cause: the burning of fossil fuels like coal, oil, and gas. We have everything we need to nurse our climate, and our economy, back to health. Rebooting the economy with investments in large-scale renewables, sustainable communities and landscape restoration can address both our economic and climate crises, while setting us up for the future.

This is the only pathway to a future for my daughters and son where they won't be living with climate-supercharged risks to their health and safety; where they will grow in a thriving economy.

We all want the same thing: for our kids to grow up happy, healthy, and safe.

I'll cherish the handmade cards and pancakes, but ultimately, meaningful, united, ambitious climate action in Australia would be the greatest gift a father could receive.

Luke Mitchell is a Eurobodalla Shire GP

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