Super Typhoon Haiyan a preview of calamities to come

A satellite photo shows Typhoon Haiyan approaching the Philippines on November 7th. (Photo via Japan Meteorological Agency)

With 10,000 people feared dead, the latest typhoon to hit the Philippines is a sure sign it’s time for real action on climate change.

The past few years have seen an alarming increase in both the number and intensity of typhoons hitting the island nation of the Philippines.

Super Typhoon Haiyan was the latest to hit last Friday at 4:30 a.m. with maximum winds of at least 170 miles per hour, 30 miles per hour stronger than Hurricane Katrina. Typhoon Haiyan has been dubbed by international climatologists as the most powerful storm to ever hit land.

Haiyan is the fourth typhoon to hit the Philippines in the span of less than a year, galvanizing the claims that climate change is ravaging a country still recovering from the devastation less than a month ago of one of the most destructive earthquakes in years.

In 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 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. With hundreds of thousands left homeless and hundreds dead, Saño 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?”

Less than a year after Saño’s speech, the images that begin to stream in from the aftermath of super typhoon Haiyan, though familiar through the years, continue to shock even the most jaded. Weather authorities from the Philippines claim we were actually lucky, that the islands allowed the storm to speed through the country and lessened the potential of deadlier flooding and landslides.

Still, this time around, instead of just “hundreds of thousands,” the number of people directly impacted is estimated to be 4.2 million, covering 270 towns and 36 provinces across the central islands of the Visayan and Mindanao region.

Along with communities worldwide, Filipino-Americans in the Puget Sound area are mobilizing yet again to support relief and rehabilitation efforts. But for some in the community, this cyclic pattern of extending help needs to be addressed pro-actively and politically.

Prior to Typhoon Haiyan, the Philippine-U.S. Solidarity Organization (PUSO) has been spearheading a strategy to gather our communities together to seriously talk about, and more importantly, act on the impacts of climate change. In the framework of political and human-rights implications, industrial countries like the U.S. and China, among others, are major contributors to fossil fuel burning from large-scale, multi-national, corporate extractive industries. This is main culprit of global warming.

The Government of the Philippines continues to open the country for more extraction of natural resources and large agribusiness by foreign corporations. Environmental destruction from these foreign corporate operations not only displaces local communities and kills livelihoods, but also makes the devastation worse when typhoons hit, as lack of trees from deforestation exacerbates landslides.

In 2009 Typhoon Ondoy became the most devastating storm ever to hit Manila, causing a billion dollars in damages from landslides and flooding and wind. (Photo by GPW/Ernie Penaredondo via Flickr)Typhoon Ondoy in 2009 was the most devastating storm ever to hit Manila. (Photo by GPW/Ernie Penaredondo)

In the meantime, set against the on-going investigations on corruption worth $141M within the ranks of its national legislature, the Philippine government has been beset with problems dealing with infrastructure inadequacy, anemic relief operations and government financial mismanagement.

The most recent Pork Barrel scandal is a clear example of how the government channels relief and development funds to bogus projects that are instead pocketed by politicians. The trend of climate change impacting the Philippine people demands of a serious re-evaluation of government priorities and transparency.

Both the forces of nature and political will are at a converging point, not only in the Philippines, but the world over. Typhoon Haiyan is a strong, compelling reminder that the focus now should be less rhetoric and more action. Otherwise, the typhoons and hurricanes to come may be even more devastating.

To donate to relief and rehabilitation efforts for Typhoon Haiyan online, visit www.nafconusa.org. NAFCON is also holding an in-person demonstration at Westlake Center at 4pm on Monday, November 11th.

PUSO will be sending four members in two weeks for an exposure trip to the Philippines with medical relief supplies. If you would like to donate, please drop off any of the items below on Mon, 11/18 at Inays Restaurant (2503 Beacon Ave S. Seattle WA 98144) anytime between 5pm-9pm.

Medical Supplies Needed:

  • First Aid Kits
  • For wounds:  Agua Oxenada, gauze pads, Iodine
  • Colds, coughs, fever medication
  • Vitamin C
  • Oral Rehydration Salts:  Oral rehydration for adults and children DUCOLITE and PEDIALITE, or HYDRITE
  • Medicines for Gastroenteritis: Those that can be bought without a prescription include: Imodium, Loperamide hydrochloride, Maxolon (a brand of Metoclopramide Hydrochloride), Metoclopramide, Norimode (a brand of Loperamide Hydrochloride)

Chera Amlag

Chera Amlag

Chera Amlag is the national finance officer of BAYAN USA and has been a PUSO member since 2009.

Roger Rigor

Roger Rigor

Roger Rigor public school teacher at the Ida B. Wells School for social justice at the University of Washington teaching Climate Science and Math. He's been member of PUSO since 2012.

Chera Amlag is the national finance officer of BAYAN USA and has been a PUSO member since 2009.

5 COMMENTS

  1. I believe in global warming and climate change, but you need to get your facts right. Current scientific evidence does not support the notion that an individual tropical cyclone (including this typhoon) is caused by global warming. Therefore you cannot attribute a typhoon or hurricane as caused by global warming directly.

    • Though it’s true that statistically, the distribution of data connecting these powerful cyclones to global warming may be considered ‘the tail of the distribution’, we can refer to the 4,000 climate scientists worldwide who all agree to the observation that ‘these events are more likely’ to be connected to global warming.

      • That is not enough. You need hard data to prove a hypothesis. I suggest you use more convincing examples to demonstrate climate change (i.e. melting glaciers and polar ice) rather than this particular storm, because there is as yet no conclusive evidence and data to link tropical cyclones strength and frequency to global warming.

        • Mr. T. Man, I beg for your indulgence. I am simply a teacher and not a full-fledged scientist and I understand that a hypothesis should be supported by hard data to prove an argument; otherwise, be the object of scorn among peers in science. I am simply surmising a trend and not wait 50 years or so to find out that such indeed is the case, simply because the data has proven it to be; or, maybe not…then, well and good. If I had some inkling that I might be sick and could deteriorate into having cancer, I will have to change my habits now to avoid it…not wait to know that I actually have contracted it. I am simply advocating avoidance. I hope that makes sense. Thank you again for your insights, though and you are right, about adding on other examples of climate change.

  2. The Philippine government is “too organized” to have the relief/foods/goods distributed, it is slowing everybody down, and more and more people are suffering. Even when we went to the post office yesterday, the staff named Elena was “too organized” it took us 30 minutes to get the package. Hopefully they will change this STUPID system so that they will SERVE more than ORGANIZE more. Wadda heck!

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