Blame Canada's carbon complacency for the Philippine typhoon

Blame Canada’s carbon complacency for the Philippine typhoon

Blame Canada's carbon complacency for the Philippine typhoon
Fort McMurray, Alberta (photo: Kris Krüg)

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.


About Kevin Grandia

Kevin is the President of Spake Media House Inc. a consulting firm that helps people who want to change the world communicate powerfully online. Named a "Green Hero" by Rolling Stone Magazine and one of the "Top 50 Tweeters"on climate change and environment issues, Kevin has appeared in major news media outlets around the world for his work on digital campaigning. He is formerly the Director of Online Strategy at Greenpeace USA and has been writing on climate change and other pressing social issues for more than seven years. He was the managing editor of that in 2011 was named one of the top 25 blogs in the world by Time Magazine. He recently helped launch and is a contributor to DeSmog Canada

11 thoughts on “Blame Canada’s carbon complacency for the Philippine typhoon

  1. Yes there is /are pollution problems that must be addressed. Credit in the Gulf of Mexico, radiation out of Japan (and other nuclear power plants currently leaking) putting toxic fluoride into drinking water. Heavy metals from industry, indiscriminate deforestation that would allow nature to convert carbon to oxygen… The way nature intended. So let’s address the so called problem by coming up with another financial industry tool that will in the end allow the “problem” that you have identified to be in the hands of the corrupt for profit financiers. Time to wake up and smell the stench. It’s all about the money … Not fixing the problem(s) Don’t be so gullible. It doesn’t look good on you.

  2. Really, do you think that things would change. As you are aware all any polluter has to do is purchase carbon credits and pollute away. The whole thing is a scam.

  3. Blame Canada’s carbon complacency for the Philippine typhoon“. No, please don’t!

    Dr Benny Peiser, director of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, said both Mr Cameron and Today seemed ‘totally unaware of both the science and changing international realities. Every scientist is adamant that the typhoon has nothing to do with global warming.’

    Read more:

  4. You don’t have to go any farther than Delta, BC to see the lack of leadership. The Mayor hung her head and said that she could do nothing from stopping the South Fraser Perimeter Road going through bogland. The Corporation of Delta even waited until after the Road went through Delta owned bogland before applying to have it incorporated into the Conservancy area.

    The Delta staff drew up the map for the Fraser River Ramsar site and excluded MK Delta Lands!

    Now the Mayor & Council are dragging their heels in opposing the importation of US thermal coal through Delta.

  5. I agree with Mr. Grandia that global and ocean warming have caused the disaster in the Philippines but I disagree that the blame can be laid at Canada’s door. Harvard Univ. oceanographers report that with ocean warming and acidification, currents in the Pacific have changed direction. Since 1995 there has been an increase in water level of some 8.5 inches in the eastern Pacific due to changing current patterns.

    Also, a “warm spot” of some 110 miles radius with an average temperature of some 4 to 6 degrees centigrade has developed and remained relatively stationary some 500 miles east of the Philippines. It is this warm spot that has generated the 24 typhoons that have crossed the Philippines this summer, including Super Typhoon Haiyan. If the spot does not disappear or move, violent storms will be generated over the spot next summer and the Philippines will continue to be devastated. Welcome to the start of the destruction and population dislocation that will occur globally due to global warming.

    To give emphasis to his article, Mr. Gandia states categorically that Canada is by far one of the largest producers of greenhouse gas. On a per capita basis we are. This is to be expected. Canada is the only member of the G7 that has a cold climate. However, taken globally, we hardly register. We have a population of 35 million people. There are larger cities in China and elsewhere.

    Canada is responsible for about 2% of global emissions. 9 billion tonnes of pollutants annually into the atmosphere, the U.S. some 6 billion and the E.U. 3.5 billion.

    I fully agree that we are approaching global disaster. This is the first summer in 400,000 years (before our species emerged from Africa and we started the Anthropocene) that there is no ice covering the North Pole. Ocean acidification is accelerating. The rate of Arctic and Antarctic ice sheet melt is accelerating beyond what scientists have predicted. We are causing the sixth extinction. The carbon dioxide content in the atmosphere passed 400 ppm on May 13, 2013.

    And there are tipping points where no one can remotely predict the consequences. The February issue of Nature published a peer reviewed article stating that a 1.5 degree Centigrade rise in temperature over the Siberian perma frosts will result in the release of some ten trillion tonnes (yes, with a “t”) of methane. Methane is 100 times more destructive than carbon dioxide. The Canadian and Alaskan perma frosts were not included in the calculation. What is a little methane from fracking activity compared to such a catastrophe?

    Kyoto is dead. A U.N. conference on global climate change is currently being held in Warsaw. However, there is no authority with the jurisdiction or power to effect meaningful global change. Do we really think that either such a body can be set up by the U.N. or that the dramatic change in economic and consumption patterns will occur fast enough to stop or even slow down the train to hell that we are on?

    China is a good, if not the best, example. The last issue of The Economist reports that in China half the water is not even fit to wash in. 70% of the power in China is supplied by coal. The Chinese industrial revolution in the last three decades has destroyed 24,000 of 50,000 rivers and the Yellow River is massively polluted. There are about 400 petro-chemical plants built along the Yellow River. China is to build some 50 major dams in the next two decades. And the dictatorship in China is carrying out plans to urbanize some 250 million people in the next decade.

    In the last decade, the U.S. has declined to grant permits for the construction of 161 coal fired electrical plants. This is good. But around the world in the same time period, some 1,600 new plants have been built. In Europe, coal consumption has increased because it is cheaper than methane. Further, the fracking revolution in the U.S. has given it new reserves of hydrocarbons estimated to last some 200 years. Good in the short term for the U.S. economy but a disaster for climate change.

    As a final note, the Harper regime in Canada has nullified much of our environmental legislation since it gained its majority in 2011. Turns out the Harper has been a member since the 1990’s of the evangelical Christian and Missionary Alliance Church (CMA). The CMA deinies climate change, teaches that the word of their go is to be believed over science, that environmentalist are evil creatures of the devil and that their god will never let harm come to them because of their belief. Harper has put CMA church doctrine into legislation. Ted Cruz is prime minister of Canada. See

    Pass the article on to your friends. I suggest the Harper legislative agenda as a reflection of his religious beliefs is a much more important subject to inform Canadians.

    The party is over and I do not see the steps being taken to change what we have wrought.

    1. Today, at our rally in Duncan against the “oil” pipelines (and more tankers along the BC coast) this 2% emission statistic once again reared its pathetic head as an excuse. First of all, Canada and the U.S. have to step up and be leaders wrt moving away from our dependency on fossil fuels. And Canada certainly is not!

      Secondly, does this 2% include the emissions produced by other nations when they “burn” our imported natural resources? To suggest that this should not be factored in is just disingenuous. I would expect this from groups such as CAPP!
      (which is missing the R, as in responsibility).

  6. While I dont disagree with the comment,

    ” 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”

    I do wonder what percentage of canadians are willing to PAY for our share of the greenhouse gas emmisions through increased carbon(?)taxes………..

    When people realize they have to pay to be “greener” their altruistic tendencies seem to fall by the way side. Its one thing to comment in a poll. Its another to back that belief up with hard earned cash………

  7. In these emails, Jones, in association with Michael Mann and other collaborators, communicate their intention to censor academic papers via intervening in the IPCC peer review process, as well as manipulate statistical data to conform to inaccurate climate forecast models. In a 2009 email correspondence between Kevin Trenberth and Michael Mann, Trenberth states: “the fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t… Our observing system is inadequate” (Global Research 2009). As identified in the introduction, the actions of Jones and Mann perfectly illustrate the ideal of scientists working for academic self interest and not for the benefit of scientific understanding.

    and . . .

    Climate has always changed, and it always will. The assumption that prior to the industrial revolution the Earth had a “stable” climate is simply wrong.

  8. Yesterday CBC Reported on new data that had “just come in.” They stated the “Super Typhoon” was a result of “warmer than average ocean currents” and when you look at teh flow of currents in teh region one wonders if the now 2.5 year old Fukushima steady dump of radionuclides into the ocean is responsible in some way.

    Those Isotopes release a lot of energy designed to heat water in the creation of nuclear power.

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