Will Typhoon Haiyan Change World Attitudes? Don't Hold Your Breath! (Letter)
You have to wonder how many more monster storms it's going to take before the world takes meaningful action on climate change. Just one example is Haiyan, the "super-typhoon" which devastated vast areas of The Philippines this month. It was the biggest storm to hit land, ever!
A poor Filipino man living and working right here in my home community of Neepawa apparently lost as many as 30 members of his family in this horrible tragedy. As the storm was raging, his country's Chief Climate Negotiator was making a tearful appeal at a UN conference in Poland. He pled for an end to the "madness," of climate change. He asked that we turn away from our addiction to fossil fuels, which is the root-cause of it all.
Many climatologists remain reluctant to link any single storm, including this one, to climate change. But they have repeatedly warned that warmer oceans brought about by rising global temperatures, stoke the ferocity of both wind and waves during what they call these "severe weather events." As a result, the waves hitting the shore in The Philippines were more like a tsunami than a surge, the wind more like a thousand tornadoes than a typhoon.
Sadly, neither that brave negotiator's plea for change, nor the hunger strike he began at the time, seem likely to make a dent on a world community bent on maintaining a society fuelled by hydrocarbons, and little else.
Japan has backed away from its targets for greenhouse gas reduction, saying they are just not realistic. Our own Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq, has simply added to Canada's shameful litany of lies and deception over the years, by proclaiming at the same UN conference, that a carbon tax wouldn't be effective (even thought the preponderance of evidence points to the contrary). And Australia, a nation which has suffered so severely from the effects of climate change itself, has just elected a Conservative government, which has vowed to repeal an existing carbon tax there.
Yet, even as I look out my window and watch the semis rolling by as unrelentingly as ever, I can't afford to give up! After all, as an older person, I have surely contributed to this mess, myself. So it is now up to me to help fix it.
And, damn it, with your help, we will!
Neepawa, Manitoba, CA
(A version of the above has now been published in the Roblin Review and Neepawa Banner.)
P.S. I'd like to thank fellow members of the Green Party of Manitoba for supporting my resolution at our recent Annual General Meeting in Winnipeg. The Party agreed to extend heartfelt and deepest sympathies to the many surviving family members and friends of victims killed by the typhoon.
We also adopted a resolution calling on the Government of Manitoba to "substantially increase" its pledge of $200 thousand dollars to the Filipino relief effort. The resolution noted, "If this provincial government can afford to pay a wealthy corporation like Ikea some $8 million to set up shop in Winnipeg, it can surely be more generous to a country so devastated by this super-storm. We mustn't forget that many Filipinos live and work here in Manitoba, giving to this province's economy and social life. It's time that Manitoba gave back to the Philippines."