The Philippines Today; Where in the World is Next, Tomorrow?

The media silence before Typhoon Haiyan hit was as eerie as the sickly green calm before a violent summer tornado.

In the days while the storm churned its way across the sea to landfall in the Phillippines, only the BBC seemed to be paying attention.

Super-typhoon Haiyan

Super-typhoon Haiyan

I had that familiar tightness in the pit of my stomach, watching the satellite images of the storm’s progress.  I knew that even though there had been evacuations, this was going to be a storm of historic proportions.

And it was.

And now the American media is paying attention, but it’s the usual kind of attention, which is to say, they’re asking the usual questions: how many dead?  How many wounded?  What humanitarian relief effort is being mounted?

I had yet to hear the words CLIMATE CHANGE raised, until this afternoon—and no surprise about who uttered those words.

Bill McKibben sent one of his pithy, no-nonsense emails out to the list today.

“Lines of communication are in still in chaos, but we managed to get in touch with Zeph, our amazing 350 Southeast Asia Coordinator in the Philippines. Here’s what she just emailed to our team: “This lends urgency to our work. I think we need to be twice as strong as Typhoon Haiyan.”

Concretely, McKibben is asking us to send funds to the survivors, and here’s the link provided by for more information on humanitarian aid.

Secondly, he says, we need to raise our voices.  The link connects to a petition that will be delivered to negotiators at the UN climate summit going on right now in Warsaw (surprise surprise, I didn’t know that was going on—did you?).

With characteristic bluntness, McKibben says:

“We need to let world leaders know that their inaction is wrecking the world, and the time is long past for mere talk — we need action, and we need it now.”

UnknownPhilippine negotiator Yeb Sano, who has been working for years to persuade the developed world to act aggressively on climate change, is fasting for the two weeks of the talks until and unless countries make real commitments around climate finance and reducing emissions.

McKibben quotes Sano: “Let Poland, let Warsaw, be remembered as the place where we truly cared to stop this madness. Can humanity rise to this occasion? I still believe we can.”

Call me a fool, but I still believe we can too.  One thing is for sure, this is no time to give up.


More Info and Links, courtesy of


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  1. I had all the same feelings today. Actually tweeted them. Also received McKibben’s email. We are truly at a tipping point. Yet, it is as if most of us have made an unspoken pact to ignore it and go on living exactly as we have been living, until the future is irrevocably changed in ways few of us are willing to imagine.

  2. Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez

     /  November 12, 2013

    Yes, this “unspoken pact” really must be brought into the light and examined. Huge denial on all of our parts–huge inertia. What kinds of shocks will it take to jolt us out of our trance and into action? What can those of us who are awake and aware of the impending danger DO to get our neighbors and nations to be proactive rather than just reactive? These are important conversations to be having now…but they must move out of the realm of conversation into the realm of ACTION.

    • Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez

       /  November 13, 2013

      Thank you for pointing this out to me Jan, I hadn’t seen it and it so echoes what I’ve been thinking about. I will be writing about it for sure.

  3. Watching and listening to Yeb Sano’s plea at the climate change assemblage in Warsaw yesterday brought tears to my eyes–as to his. Although he received a standing ovation at the end, it was terrifying to see that during his declarations many of the other delegates caught in the news camera’s lens were conversing with one another, looking around or yawning. I asked myself: if these people charged with moving climate change remedies forward aren’t mesmerized by this man’s tragic plea, what does our future hold? It is so clear that ALL of us who understand and care must be the ones to move this struggle forward.

  4. Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez

     /  November 13, 2013

    I watched that clip too and want to show it to my students–we’re working on the most effective ways to advocate for environmental justice, particularly focusing on climate change, and it seems that Yeb Sano has tried everything! Now fasting…a tactic of the truly desperate. WHAT WILL IT TAKE to get the world to wake up???

  5. Jenn, happy to pass the clip on to you. I will also blog about it. Here is one little ray of hope (infinitesimal, I guess) – the person who sent me that clip was some one who read my book and said it made him think about all this in a new way. When he saw the article, he thought, “That is the time Earth Girl lives. She was writing about the anthropocene and making it real for readers.”


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