The devastation unleashed by Typhoon Haiyan is now making itself unbearably clear. The world has begun tuning in while massive, worldwide relief efforts are at fever pitch. Images impart a tragedy that can only be attributed to nature’s powerful disdain over what has been an on-going debate on climate change and global warming.
The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was conclusive in their assessment that the current level of carbon emission is due to human activities, and not a cyclic pattern of nature, as other camps are claiming. The unprecedented rate of increase in carbon emission is the reason for global warming, which in turn, is closely related to climate change. Scientists worldwide are in full agreement, even though the data record is short, that global warming is the “likely cause” of major typhoons and hurricanes that the world has witnessed these past years.
Climate and environmental scientists are replete with evidences of the current trend on global warming: the ever-increasing rate of melting of the Greenland ice sheet and mountain glaciers, ocean acidification, the denudation of the north-latitude forests by invading pests from warmer climates, higher incidences of forest fires, increasing areas of drought and the water crises, and many more.
Typhoon Haiyan reminds us what typhoon events in that part of the world are going to be like. Perhaps, hurricane events in this part of the world as well, as what Katrina and Sandy were.
This epochal crisis is currently centered on climate change and global warming. The mind-set of ‘business-as-usual’ in the context of fossil fuel burning should now be addressed in the arena of national and international political debates.
Agriculturally-based countries in Asia have a lot to fight for in this debate since it has been the industrially-based nations who are the biggest emitters of carbon dioxide.
On December 2012, at Doha, Qatar, then Philippine representative to the 18th United Nations Climate Change Conference, Naderev “Yeb” Saño, made a stirring and emotional appeal to the gathering of nations on how climate change is affecting underdeveloped countries like the Philippines. Only a few days prior to his privileged speech, the province of Davao on the southernmost island of Mindanao was reeling from the onslaught of Typhoon Bopha, the “strongest typhoon” to ever hit that part of the country. Hundreds of thousands left homeless, hundreds dead, he directed his attention especially to developed nations to make a stand against the havoc of global warming and climate change: “If not now, then when? If not here, then where?”
The UN Climate Change Summit in Warsaw, Poland, is reconvening this week where Mr. Saño has expressed his intention to go on a hunger strike if his appeal remains ineffective.
It’s been just less than a year. Instead of hundreds of thousands, we now are looking in the millions with thousands expected to have perished. It cannot be “business-as-usual.” The issue of global warming due to the over emission of carbon dioxide, is now both a question of political will and environmental sustainability. Typhoon Haiyan is a wake-up call. The time to act is now. The options are not only catastrophic; it clearly spells an ominous future on Humanity.
A previous version of this article appeared at SeattleGlobalist.com.
Chera Amlag and Roger Rigor are part of the Philippine-US Solidarity Organization (PUSO). Founded in Seattle in 2002, PUSO works to educate and organize against U.S. imperialism in the Philippines.