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Philippines Typhoon Haiyan: Extreme Weather of the Anthropocene

This is the new normal of the Anthropocene.  Extreme weather leading to devastating loss of life and property is like a lottery system for who will suffer the brunt of anthropogenic global warming.

Global political response to such sporadic and far-flung destruction is inept.  The current conference of the parties to the United Nations Climate Change Convention is being held in Warsaw, Poland.  Coal energy is the stalwart of Poland’s economy and advocates of this fossil fuel were expected to have a strong voice at the negotiations.

Haiyan has intruded into the negotiations.

The Philippines envoy, Naderev Sanyo, to the Warsaw meeting broke down in tears as he addressed the gathered negotiators.  “”We can fix this. We can stop this madness. Right now, right here,” Sano told delegates in Warsaw.

“Choking on his words, he said he was waiting in agony for news from relatives caught in the massive storm’s path, though he was relieved to hear his brother had survived.

“In the last two days he has been gathering bodies of the dead with his own two hands,” Sano said.”

Whipped by too many extreme storms — like Hurricane Sandy, Hurricane Katrina, and the Tsunami that took out the Fukushima Reactor — the latest super-storm induces numbness and disbelief. The causes leading to such extreme weather are very complicated, so directly attributing any specific storm to global warming is difficult if not impossible. Still, scientists have long predicted an increase in extreme weather as a part of global warming.

The leaked draft of the newest report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) points to decreased agricultural production as a major challenge of climate change.  The threat to agriculture arises from the projected increased occurrence of droughts and floods.

Named Typhoon Haiyan, this storm is reportedly the strongest ever recorded to hit land.  Winds reached 200 miles per hour.  Some 10,000 people are feared to have died. Vast numbers of trees, buildings, and urban infrastructure have been destroyed.

Haiyan hit about 400 miles south of Manila, first thrashing the southern tip of Samar island and then devastating Leyte Island. Tacloban was laid to waste. Altogether the typhoon’s path crossed six or seven islands in the Philippines.

This map of Haiyan’s trajectory  is from the NY Times — go to this link for a better image  and for details on the damage:


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