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Death toll from Typhoon Bopha rises as Philippines climate negotiator appeals for action
A week ago Category 5 tropical cyclone Typhoon Bopha (Locally known as Pablo) slammed into the Philippines island of Mindinao bringing death and destruction. The Typhoon storm track was the most southerly tropical cyclone ever recorded in the western Pacific and the strongest to hit the Philippines this year. The Philippines is subjected to typhoons on a regular basis, but systematic climate change is making them more intense and changing their paths of destruction.
Naderev Saño, head of the Philippines climate delegation at the Doha UNFCC climate talks described to Democracy Now, "The path of Typhoon Bopha is slightly more to the south of what struck Mindanao last year, but it is affecting the same areas. And it is sobering for us to know that a typhoon like this, that normally doesn’t hit that part of the country, in fact, this is a — in half a century, this is the first time that a typhoon that has crossed as south as Bopha."
The storm's high winds and torrential rain caused flash flooding in several provinces in the island of Mindanao in the southern Philippines. Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental in eastern Mindanao were particularly hard hit. The town of New Bataan in Compostela Valley has been obliterated by raging floodwaters. Communications to many areas were cut as roads and bridges were destroyed. The death toll approaches 500 with some 170,000 displaced people.
The lead negotiator for the Philippines at the Climate Conference in Doha, Naderev Saño, broke down in tears during a passionate appeal for real action on climate change. (Watch youtube video)
"Even as we vacillate and procrastinate here, the death toll is rising. There is massive and widespread devastation. Hundreds of thousands of people have been rendered without homes. And the ordeal is far from over," he said.
"I appeal to leaders from all over the world, to open our eyes to the stark reality that we face. I appeal to ministers. The outcome of our work is not about what our political masters want. It is about what is demanded of us by 7 billion people."
He finished his short speech "I ask of all of us here, if not us, then who? If not now, then when? If not here, then where?"
The Philippines delegation has been pushing strongly for a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol at the latest round of climate change meetings in Doha, Qatar. “We have been trying to save the Kyoto Protocol for many, many years and this is our last chance because the first commitment period is ending by the end of December,” stated Mr. Saño.
Outside the Conference civil society groups gathered Standing in solidarity with the Philippines. (Watch youtube video)
Last year saw Typhoon Sendong kill over 1000 people and displace 100,000. The Philippines had most weather related disaster deaths in 2011 placing the country 5th on the 2012 Global Climate Risk Index.
"In 2011, the Philippines endured a harsh typhoon season and were severely hit by tropical storm Washi which claimed over 1,600 flood victims, topping the list for most human casualties of the year," said a report authored by Sven Harmeling and David Eckstein. The report directly attributed extreme weather events to climate change.
The report authors also drew attention to the claim by many scientists and scientific papers of systematic climate change causing or exacerbating extreme weather events, "While a couple of years ago there was hardly any event where science experts made a clear link to climate change, the research community has progressed," it said.
Like Hurricane Sandy and the devastation brought to the Carribbean and the US East coast, the link is being made in the media that Killer typhoons in Philippines are now blamed on climate change.