While it is reasonable to come to the conclusion that Typhoon Haiyan was exacerbated by climate change, it is indisputable that this record breaking storm, likely the most powerful to ever make landfall, is a foretaste of our future if we continue on our current trajectory.
As we watch the painful reports of people burying their dead, searching for loved ones or desperate for food and water we would do well to remember, this is not the isolated fate of an isolated people. This is what lies in store for all of us if we fail to make the transition to a low carbon economy.
By some estimates as many as 10,000 people may have died in Tacloban alone, if aid does not come soon many more will die from thirst, starvation and disease. Almost a million people have been displaced as their homes have been destroyed.
Like so many countries, the Philippines struggles to deal with rampant corruption and violent extremism. When extreme weather is added to the mix we have a volatile and corrosive combination. As always the poorest people are the hardest hit.
While the impacts of the storm are horrific, it could have been far worse. Sadly it will get far worse in the Philippines and elsewhere unless we do act now to significantly reduce our ongoing output of GHGs. First and foremost this means rapidly reducing our consumption of fossil fuels.
We do not need to speculate about what the future of climate change will look like as Typhoon Haiyan offers a tragically graphic illustration. The death, devastation and suffering in the Philippines affords us a painful glimpse into what it will be like in a world ravaged by climate change.
© 2013, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.
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