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Chris Ford: Typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan - a climate change fuelled tragedy

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Chris Ford
Chris Ford

It's evident that Typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan is a climate change fuelled tragedy.

If anyone needs further proof that climate change is happening, just look at the Phillipines today. Yolanda/Haiyan crashed ashore with some of the most destructive winds ever recorded, up to 270kph in some instances.

The outcome has been devastating - homes and businesses destroyed, streets and rural areas flooded, human casualties estimated in the tens of thousands. It has destroyed both lives and livelihoods. From the pictures I've seen on the internet and television, Yolanda/Haiyan has left a trail of devastation worse than a thousand Christchurch or Japanese earthquakes, hundreds of Hurricane Katrinas, and worse damage than any experienced in the Phillipines since, at least, the Second World War.

Ultimately, I would expect that the reconstruction effort post Yolanda/Haiyan will be on a par to that being currently experienced in Christchurch and Japan post-earthquakes and South East Asia post-Boxing Day Tsunami.

I realise, though, that storms have been visiting destruction upon regions of the Earth since time immemorial and will continue to do so. Nonetheless, climate change, which has been generated by the increased levels of carbon dioxide emitted into our atmosphere for at least four centuries now, is increasing in its ferocity. Sadly for this reason, we will experience many more disastrous weather events on this scale into the forseeable future.

But we can, all of us, help slow down climate change and over time reverse it. That's why a really comprehensive and truly binding post-Kyoto Protocol global agreement on climate change is needed - and I mean not just talked about but negotiated and implemented! Admittedly, if such an agreement is reached as the result of talks beginning in Poland this month, it will mean that many of the world's population who are alive today may not see its immediate benefits during their lifetimes. However, the benefits could be felt a generation from now if we all pressured politicians and big business to act in the interests of our planet and agree to curb excessive carbon emissions and even begin to eliminate the need for them altogether.

We need a world where sustainble energy solutions power our transport and industry through, for example, solar, wave, geothermal and wind power. Only if these developments happen en masse will we be able to make even a much needed dent in runaway global warming.

And the people of the Phillipines and of all countries will feel grateful to our generation for saving theirs and that of all others. Yes, one day the Earth will end but more due to the Sun expanding (prior to its demise) which is something our descendants will be unable to control. Until that time comes in billions of years time, we should do our utmost not to destroy the planet through our own action or inaction well ahead of schedule!

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