People We Love :: Peter Marshall

Fighting Fire with Climate Activism

When wildfires struck southeastern Australia in February, firefighters risked their lives to extinguish the flames. But when the fires became deadly, killing more than 200 people, Peter Marshall, secretary of the United Firefighters Union of Australia, decided to fight fire with political activism.

Warming temperatures, caused by climate change, are making catastrophic fires in Australia more likely, and scientists say the danger will worsen if something isn’t done. “Firefighters know that it is better to prevent an emergency,” Marshall wrote in an open letter in a major Australian newspaper, The Age, “and we urge state and federal governments to … keep firefighters and the community safe by halving the country’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.”

Marshall has since called for public action on climate. “If the government doesn’t take notice of our letter, the public should make sure they take notice, because ultimately they’re the ones whose lives are being placed at risk.”

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Madeline Ostrander wrote this article as part of The New Economy, the Summer 2009 issue of YES! Magazine. Madeline is senior editor at YES!Magazine. Photo of Madeline Ostrander
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