Climate IMC: Extreme Weather

Typhoon Haiyan causes death and devastation in the Philippines


Tacloban City devastated by Typhoon Haiyan
Tacloban City devastated by Typhoon Haiyan

On November 8 Super Typhoon Haiyan made landfall over Guiuan, Eastern Sama province in the Philippines, destroying coastal communities with ferocious winds and a storm surge of 6-7 metres (up to 20 feet). According to Dr Jeff Masters "Haiyan had winds of 190 - 195 mph (315 km/h) at landfall, making it the strongest tropical cyclone on record to make landfall in world history."

Authorities of Tacloban City with a population of 220,000 and capital of Leyte province, gave an early estimate that perhaps 10,000 people died from this one city. Many people were surprised by the huge storm surge tidal waves that inundated much of the city. Many smaller coastal villages were also devastated with most buildings destroyed or suffering severe damage. According to the UN Reliefweb report on 14 November the number of affected people has increased to 11.8 million. The official death count from Typhoon Haiyan is currently 4,460 but with numbers still increasing. There were 921,200 people displaced and 243,600 houses destroyed. A total of 2.5 million people are in need of food assistance.

Related: Climate IMC: Typhoon Haiyan: This is a climate crime | Time for turning tears into anger says Walden Bello | Philippine groups demand action on climate finance, loss and damage in Warsaw climate talks | Ejected from COP19 for expressing solidarity to the Philippines | Youth observers expelled from UN climate change talks for Philippines Solidarity | Indybay: Super typhoon Haiyan is climate wake-up call | They destroy We suffer Statement on Yolanda’s Aftermath
Non-corporate Typhoon Haiyan Relief Efforts: Waves for Water | Haiyan NYC Relief Project | Doctors without Borders | Oxfam International

In areas most severely damaged, Health infrastructure and medical services are severely damaged and medical supplies are low. According to health authorities, the population is at increased risk of tetanus as well as outbreaks of acute respiratory infections, measles, leptospirosis and typhoid fever. Water systems are damaged in many areas and 239 municipalities do not have electricity as of 13 November.

Trucks and fuel are urgently needed to deliver aid. Delivery of Aid packages and humanitarian assistance is severely hampered by debris on roads and congestion at Manila and Tacloban airports causing delays. There is minimal infrastructure in Tacloban to receive, store and handle goods. Restoration of the telecom networks has been slow due to the large volume of debris.

Impassioned plea for climate action from Philippines Diplomat

The Philippines lead climate negotiator, Naderev Saño (Yeb Saño), made an impassioned plea at the Warsaw UNFCCC climate conference in the opening plenary on Monday that it was "time to take action. We need an emergency climate pathway". Attendees rose and applauded his speech. Subsequently Yeb Saño has declared a hunger strike until progress is made on climate action is made at the conference and launched an online petition. His fast has been joined by 50 other conference delegates and civil society youth representatives. Filipino academic and global south activist Walden Bello said it was Time for turning tears into anger. The use of a non-sanctioned banner resulted in 3 youth observers being ejected and banned for 5 years from UNFCCC conferences.

Significantly, last year typhoon Bopha hit the Philippines bringing death and destruction. Naderev Saño said at COP18:

"I appeal to leaders from all over the world, to open our eyes to the stark reality that we face. I appeal to ministers. The outcome of our work is not about what our political masters want. It is about what is demanded of us by 7 billion people."

He finished his short speech "I ask of all of us here, if not us, then who? If not now, then when? If not here, then where?"

The link between Typhoon Haiyan and Climate change

There is substantial media speculation over typhoon Haiyan link to climate change, as for example in the Guardian and Sydney Morning Herald reports.

Many climate activists already connect the dots between climate change and more intense storms because of the unusually warm sea surface and sub-surface water temperatures. Indeed, NOAA measured record global sea surface temperatures in August 2013. The world's oceans are warming with Parts of Pacific Warming 15 Times Faster Than in Past 10,000 Years. Scientists have also revealed that Recent warming of the Greenland Sea Deep Water is about ten times higher than warming rates estimated for the global ocean.

Philippines activists in Aksyon Klima Pilipinas, a network of 40 civil society organizations in the Philippines working on climate action in the international, national, and local levels, released a statement on November 11 demanding action on climate finance, loss and damage in Warsaw climate talks. Many people in the Philippines like Rodne Galicha are calling Typhoon Haiyan a climate crime.

The Philippines Labor Party, (Partido ng Manggagawa) released a statement welcoming international aid and solidarity work but demanding more:

"We want climate justice. Capitalist countries must be held accountable for climate crisis. They must be forced to pay the climate debt they owe to poor nations. Capitalist countries, we emphasize, were responsible for climate crisis. They emit more carbon to the atmosphere many times over what the poor countries do. It is the greenhouse gases emitted from capitalist industries which drove global temperature to rise to new levels. This causes climactic reactions like warmer and rising sea levels and which eventually lead to the formation of monster typhoons as in the case of Haiyan."

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