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.
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 350.org 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 350.org 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.”
Philippine 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 350.org
- “Typhoon Haiyan influenced by climate change, scientists say” – Sydney Morning Herald
- “Talks seek modest U.N. climate deal for 2015, to raise aid” – Reuters
- “Vast Challenges for Philippines After Typhoon” – The New York Times
- Typhoon Haiyan: Philippines urges action to resolve climate talks deadlock – The Guardian