Tuesday, November 12, 2013


A thousand people rallied in front of the US Embassy in Manila on November 11 to demand climate justice in the aftermath of Super Typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan. The protesters from various sectors — farmers, urban poor, women, workers, and youth — marched from Bonifacio Shrine demanding that the US immediately and radically cut its greenhouse gas emissions and pay for its climate debt for adaptation, loss and damages. The protest was organised by the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice.

We've heard it all before.  Some commentator, some media talking head telling us for the umpteenth time that scientist can't really say that global climate change is responsible for the ferocity of Typhoon Haiyan which slammed into the Philippines killing thousands a few days ago.  Just before making landfall, the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JWTC) clocked the winds of Haiyan (called Yolanda in the Philippines) at 314 km/h with gusts up to 379 km/h.

Can't we really?

The strongest storm ever to make landfall, EVER, and we can't really conclude anything.


The recently-released IPCC report on climate change highlighted the risks of global climate change. It has long been recognized that the increases seen in global average temperatures are likely to drive changes in the patterns and frequency of extreme weather events.  By the way, that report was several years behind the times.  Things are much worse now then when the report was being put together.

The Mirror writes:

The clue comes from looking at how warm the Pacific Ocean was in the week or more before Haiyan started to build. The temperatures of surface water as well as the deeper waters of the Western Pacific had risen steadily. Huge amounts of energy were stored up, integrated through the water column, and available for release and for the storm to absorb, fuelling Haiyan’s intensification.

The Sydney Morning Herald:

 “Once [cyclones] do form, they get most of their energy from the surface waters of the ocean,” Professor Steffen said. “We know sea-surface temperatures are warming pretty much around the planet, so that's a pretty direct influence of climate change on the nature of the storm.”

Grist has more to say on the subject:

What the new paper — “Pacific Ocean Heat Content During the Past 10,000 Years” — shows is that the recent oceanic warming is happening at a historically unprecedented rate. The study was authored by three researchers: Braddock Lindsay, a geoscience researcher at Columbia University; Delia Oppo, a climate scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution; and Yair Rosenthal, a geologist at Rutgers.

 “That rate of change in ocean heat content is 15 times greater now than it’s been in the last 7,000 or 8,000 years.”

Uh, hello. 

The government of the Philippines has reached the conclusion that global climate change IS a factor and that something has to be done and now.  “What my country is going through as a result of this extreme climate event is madness,” said Naderev “Yeb” Saño, lead negotiator for the Philippines at the climate talks. “The climate crisis is madness. We can stop this madness. Right here in Warsaw. Typhoons such as Haiyan and its impacts represent a sobering reminder to the international community that we cannot afford to procrastinate on climate action.”

Grist reports countries, poorer countries, being impacted by global climate change are pleading for help,

We told you on Friday that climate delegates representing poor and developing countries are begging wealthy countries for financial help — not just for help in reducing their carbon emissions, but also for help in dealing with crazy weather that’s already happening. They say they can’t afford to do it alone, and many of them feel that their countries shouldn’t have to, since the rich nations of the world have pumped so much of the excess carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Rich countries have pledged to provide $100 billion in annual climate assistance starting in 2020 via the Green Climate Fund, but they’ve contributed very little so far. “We have not seen any money from the rich countries to help us to adapt,” Saño said. And some delegations in Warsaw are seeking more funding still, to compensate developing countries for the damage caused by climate disasters.

It is incredible that we are still dithering around about global climate change.  Climate change deniers refuse to see what is right in front of their face.  I say, let these assholes go to the Philippines today and tell the survivors they needn't be concerned about climate change.  It ain't no big deal.

Philippines Negotiator  Yeb Sano says it far better than I.  As reported now by EcoWatch,

“To anyone who continues to deny the reality that is climate change, I dare you to get off your ivory tower and away from the comfort of you armchair,” he said. “I dare you to go to the islands of the Pacific, the islands of the Caribbean and the islands of the Indian ocean and see the impacts of rising sea levels; to the mountainous regions of the Himalayas and the Andes to see communities confronting glacial floods, to the Arctic where communities grapple with the fast dwindling polar ice caps, to the large deltas of the Mekong, the Ganges, the Amazon and the Nile where lives and livelihoods are drowned, to the hills of Central America that confronts similar monstrous hurricanes, to the vast savannas of Africa where climate change has likewise become a matter of life and death as food and water becomes scarce.”

“Not to forget the massive hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico and the eastern seaboard of North America,” Sano continued. “And if that is not enough, you may want to pay a visit to the Philippines right now. What my country is going through as a result of this extreme climate event is madness. The climate crisis is madness.”

Sano said that he identified with the young people and activists around the world who are standing up to the fossil fuel industry, protesting in the streets and committing civil disobedience. He shared their frustration and appreciated their courageous action. The same sort of leadership was necessary here in Warsaw, he said.

“We can take drastic action now to ensure that we prevent a future where super typhoons are a way of life,” said Sano. “Because we refuse, as a nation, to accept a future where super typhoons like Haiyan become a fact of life. We refuse to accept that running away from storms, evacuating our families, suffering the devastation and misery, having to count our dead, become a way of life. We simply refuse to.”

Sano then went off the prepared script of his remarks that were released to the media to announce that he would be commencing a voluntary fast.

“In solidarity with my countrymen who are struggling to find food back home and with my brother who has not had food for the last three days, in all due respect Mr. President, and I mean no disrespect for your kind hospitality, I will now commence a voluntary fasting for the climate. This means I will voluntarily refrain from eating food during this COP until a meaningful outcome is in sight.”

And that is not the end of the story, only the beginning.  

Meanwhile,  in the Philippines the situation is dire and the people have no reason to believe or trust in their government or the world to provide them with the help they need right now.  Ask Haitians how that works out.  They also know that their misery, their loss is quite actually the result of the continued war on the environment being waged by Global Capital, Empire, and its vassal States.  They are only too aware that the rich of the world are still perfectly content to sit back and watch the multitude struggle to survive.

We know that one day the tables shall turn, the multitude will say "enough" and the today's powerful will shake in their boots.

The question is, will it be soon enough.

The following is from Green Left Weekly.

Philippines: 'Let our people live! Climate justice now!'

At least 10,000 people are feared dead due to Typhoon Haiyan (known as Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines).
The statement below was released by the Party of the Labouring Masses (PLM, a Filipino socialist party) on November 10 in response the huge humanitarian disaster caused by Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda. Details on how to donate to the PLM's relief efforts at at the bottom. You can also sign a petition initiate by the Philippines Movement for Climate Justice.
* * *
Let Our People Live! Save Lives, Redistribute Food, Stop the Economic and Environment Plunder! Climate Justice Now!
The people are still reeling from the impact of possibly the biggest typhoon to strike the country. Death toll numbers are rising rapidly. There is huge devastation.
Many are still trying to contact their relatives, friends and comrades, but communication systems are down, in the hardest hit areas. How should we, as activists and socialists, respond to the crisis?
Firstly, we have to support and take whatever measures are necessary to protect the people. This means all measures that bring the people immediate relief.
In the hardest hit city of Tacloban, in south eastern Visayas, the people are already taking what food and relief supplies that they need from the malls. The media reports this as looting and the break-down of law and order.
But we say: let our people live. This is not "looting". People are taking food, where they can get it, in order to survive. If there is no timely and organsed support system from government, people just have to do it themselves and they should organise themselves to do it more effectively.
Even some grocery owners understand the need for this. According to one report of a man who broke into a grocery store: "The owner said we can take the food, but not the dried goods. Our situation is so dismal. We have deaths in our family. We need to save our lives. Even money has no use here now”.
Where possible, PLM will assist them to organise to take over food supplies and necessary relief goods.
Then there’s the issue of the government response. Our experience has been that it has always been too slow and inadequate. Any efforts are undermined by corruption. The exposure of the organised plunder by the political elite and sections of government, of development funds or “pork barrel” funds meant for the people, is a testimony to this.
This outraged the country and brought almost half-a-million people out in to the streets in a huge show of protest on August 26. While one plunderer has been arrested, the president has not responded decisively to clean up the system.
The public funds plundered by the elite should have been used for preventative measures to support the people weather these disasters: for infrastructure, including better sea walls and communication infrastructure; for early warning systems; for well-constructed and therefore safe public housing, to replace huts and shacks built out of dried leaves and cardboard; for health and education; for equipment and personnel for rapid emergency response, and the list is endless.
But no, this was not the case, it was eaten up by the greed of the elite classes.
Unfortunately, we have no reason to believe that the government and the system will deliver and meet the needs of the people, this time round either. The self-interest of the elite, and their control of the government and the system that is designed to perpetuate their interests, through the plunder of the people’s assets and resources, renders the entire set-up inutile in the face of a disaster on this scale.
Then there are our international "allies", such as the United States government, who have sent us their best wishes. But these so-called "allies" are also responsible for the situation faced by our people.
These typhoons are part of the climate crisis phenomenon faced by the world today. Super Typhoon Haiyan (referred to as Yolanda in the Philippines) was one of the most intense tropical cyclones at landfall on record when it struck the Philippines on November 7. Its maximum sustained winds at landfall were pegged at 195 mph with gusts above 220 mph.
Some meteorologists even proclaimed it to be the strongest tropical cyclone at landfall in recorded history. Haiyan’s strength and the duration of its Category 5 intensity — the storm remained at peak Category 5 intensity for an incredible 48 straight hours.
The still-rising greenhouse gas emissions responsible for the climate crisis are disproportionately emitted by the rich and developed countries, from the US, Europe to Australia. For centuries, these rich, developed countries have polluted and plundered our societies, emitting too much greenhouse gases to satisfy their greed for profit. They have built countless destructive projects all over the world like polluting factories, coal-fired power plants, nuclear power plants and mega dams. They have also pushed for policies allowing extractive industries to practice wasteful and irresponsible extraction of the Earth’s minerals.
They continue to wage environmentally destructive wars and equip war industries, for corporate profits. All of this has fast-tracked the devastation of the Earth’s ecological system and brought about unprecedented changes in the planet’s climate.
But these are the same rich countries whose political elite are ignoring climate change and the climate crisis. Australia has recently elected a government that denies the very existence of climate change and has refused to send even a junior minister to the climate conference in Warsaw, Poland.
The question of climate justice — for the rich countries to bear the burden of taking the necessary measures for stopping it and to pay reparations and compensate those in poorer countries who are suffering the consequences of it — is not entertained even in a token way.
The way the rich countries demand debt payments from us, we now demand the payment of their “climate debts”, for climate justice and for them to take every necessary measure to cut back their greenhouse gas emission in the shortest time possible.
These rich "friends’" have preached to us about our courage and resilience. But as many here have pointed out, resilience is not just taking all the blows with a smiling face. Resilience is fighting back.
To be truly resilient we must organse, fight back and take matters in to our own hands, from the relief efforts on the ground to national government and to challenging and putting an end to the capitalist system. This is the only way to ensure that we are truly resilient.
Makibaka, huwag matakot! Fight for our lives, don’t be afraid!
Donations can be sent to: Transform Asia Gender and Labor Institute
Account No. 304-2-304004562
Swift Code: MBTCPHMM
Metrobank, Anonas Branch Aurora Blvd., Project 4
Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines
Email: transform.asia1@gmail.com
Mobile/cell No. +63(0)9088877702
PayPal donations can be made here: http://transform-asia.org/

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