‘I’m furious’: Tathra councillor says now is the time to talk climate
Mr Turnbull may well have picked the wrong community to be dismissive about climate change, telling an interviewer on Monday at an evacuation hall that "bushfires are part of Australia, as indeed are droughts and floods".
Tathra, and the wider Bega Valley area, has long had a goal of reaching 50 per cent renewable energy sources of electricity and cutting energy use by half from 2006 levels by 2020, led by the Clean Energy For Eternity group.
Matthew Nott, president of CEFE and an orthopaedic surgeon in Bega who lives in Tathra, said he was "actually disgusted" by Mr Turnbull's comments.
Mr Nott said he did not wish to get political when "a lot of my friends have lost everything".
Still, it was important the public understood science had been making great advances to identify the climate change signal behind extreme weather.
"In a world that's warming, it's very clear that the frequency and severity of bushfires is going to increase," Mr Nott said. "And you can attribute that change to climate change."
Tathra, he said, had "been at the forefront of coming up with community solutions", including equipping all six surf clubs, 12 fire sheds and 30 community buildings with solar panels.
It had also installed 100 kilowatts of solar panels – laid out to spell "imagine" – at the cost of $100,000, entirely funded by locals to power the local sewage treatment works, Mr Nott said.
"We're very well aware of the risks of climate change, from rising sea levels and changing rainfall," he said. "But we're equally aware of the benefits that renewable energy can bring to the community."