The human tragedy playing out in the Philippines deserves a moment of pause to think about how we can help and to reflect on what it must be like to be in the shoes of a mother or a son who has lost everything.
Experts are saying Typhoon Haiyan is the strongest ever recorded. Anyone who thinks that this typhoon is not due to the atmospheric disruption and rising sea levels resulting from our changing climate has their head firmly planted in the comfortable soil of ignorance, ideology or both.
Scientists at esteemed organization like NASA and the Royal Society have been warning us for years that warmer oceans will lead to stronger weather events, like typhoons and hurricanes, and rising sea levels will lead to larger and more devastating storm surges.
Something is definitely up with the weather
Typhoon Haiyan is the latest and most poignant, not to mention the most tragic, example of what is in store for humanity as governments like Canada continue to allow fossil fuel producers to pump carbon pollution into our atmosphere unregulated.
So if we know that the intensity and devastating impacts of Typhoon Haiyan are a result of climate change and record levels of industrial greenhouse gas, what is Canada’s level of responsibility for what happened in the Philippines?
The impacts of climate change are a cruel joke in that it is the poorest most vulnerable countries that are being hit the hardest, but it is the developed nations, countries like the US and Canada, who are responsible for the majority of the climate pollution in the atmosphere.
Canada, who is by far one of the largest producers of greenhouse gas, will likely not see any major impacts of climate change for many decades. The Philippines by comparison is a very minor producer of carbon pollution, but that country is feeling the results of Canada’s unwillingness to act on climate change. Industry in Canada gets to drink Tequila all day long, but it is developing nations that are feeling the nasty hangover.
Canadians want climate leadership
To be clear, I am not blaming individual Canadians for what happened in the Philippines. Canadians want leadership on climate change and they are demanding that the government listen.
I am blaming Typhoon Haiyan on the Canadian government and all those actively involved in blocking moves to reduce carbon emissions and cheerleading the accelerated expansion of carbon-intensive resources like the oil sands.
In a functioning democracy the will of the majority ultimately dictates decisions by lawmakers. Unfortunately our democracy isn’t working too well at the moment, with divided parties, split votes, weak-willed leaders and a majority government not elected by the majority of the people.
As individuals we can switch all our lightbulbs to CFC. drive less and make our houses more efficient etc., but all those actions (while very important) are not going to come close to compensating for a federal government that refuses to put in place the measures needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by industry. This is a government that refuses to listen to the people.
A recent opinion poll found that more than 76% of Canadians want our government to sign on to an international agreement to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions,. The Canadian government not only refuses to do sign a deal, it is considered a laggard at climate negotiations by many in civil society. This weekend there are events planned across the country to put pressure on our government leaders to regulate carbon emissions and halt projects like the Keystone XL and Northern Gateway pipelines.
These carbon mega-projects ensure that Canada will continue to grow as a source of greenhouse gas. They will also ensure more destruction and dead children on the other side of the planet. Watch CNN’s coverage of Typhoon Haiyan tonight.
Look at the dead children covered in tarps as their mother sits in the rubble that was once their house, and I dare you not to show up this weekend and demand our country lead on climate change.