The climate is changing and the oceans are warming resulting in an increase in super storms like Sandy that struck the northeast United States last year and the latest evidence that Mother Nature is pissed, Typhoon Haiyan, the third Category 5 “super typhoon” to hit the Philippines since 2010.
“In 2010 Megi peaked at 180mph winds but killed only 35 people, and did $276m in damage. But Bopha, which hit the southern Philippine island of Mindanao on 3 December, 2012 , left 1,901 people dead and was the costliest natural disaster in Philippines history at the time,” said Jeff Masters, director of meteorology at US-based Weather Underground in his daily blog.
According to the Philippine government, the area’s typhoons have been getting stronger. “Menacingly, the Filipino typhoons are getting stronger and stronger, especially since the 90s,” said Romulo Virola, head of the government’s national statistics board. “From 1947 to 1960, the strongest typhoon to hit us was Amy in December 1951 with a highest wind speed recorded at 240kph in Cebu. From 1961 to 1980, Sening was the record holder with a highest wind speed of 275kph in October 1970. During the next 20 years, the highest wind speed was recorded by Anding and Rosing at 260kph. In the current millennium, the highest wind speed has soared to 320kph recorded by Reming in Nov-Dec 2006. If this is due to climate change, we better be prepared for even stronger ones in the future.”
The steady warming of the oceans is likely to lead to fewer but stronger tropical typhoons, said scientists from the intergovernmental panel on climate change in a special report on climate extremes this year. “The average tropical cyclone maximum wind speed is likely to increase, but the global frequency of tropical cyclones is likely to decrease or remain unchanged,” it said.
A record seven typhoons developed across the west Pacific during October, beating beat the previous record of six in 1989. Nearly one-third of the world’s tropical storms form within the western Pacific and many track due west to the Philippines archipelago, the first major landmass they meet. In a normal season, only three or four typhoons develop.
According to National Geographic Pacific Ocean waters warmed 15 times faster in the last six decades than they did over the last ten millennia. Ironically, UN Climate talks began Monday in Warsaw, Poland with the Philippine delegate breaking down in tears [vowing to fast until a “meaningful outcome is in sight.” until a “meaningful outcome is in sight.”]
Naderev “Yeb” Sano’s emotional appeal was met with a standing ovation at the start of two-week talks in Warsaw where more than 190 countries will try to lay the groundwork for a new pact to fight global warming. [..]
Scientists say single weather events cannot conclusively be linked to global warming. Also, the link between man-made warming and hurricane activity is unclear, though rising sea levels are expected to make low-lying nations more vulnerable to storm surges.
Nevertheless, extreme weather such as hurricanes often prompt calls for urgency at the U.N. talks. Last year Hurricane Sandy’s assault on the U.S. east coast and Typhoon Bopha’s impact on the Philippines were mentioned as examples of disasters the world could see more of unless the world reins in the greenhouse gas emissions that scientists say are warming the planet. [..]
On the sidelines of the conference, climate activists called on developed countries to step up their emissions cuts and their pledges of financing to help poor countries adapt to rising seas and other impacts of climate change.
Tense discussions are also expected on a proposed “loss and damage” mechanism that would allow vulnerable countries to get compensation for climate impacts that it’s already too late to adapt to.
Though no major decisions are expected at the conference in Warsaw’s National Stadium, the level of progress could be an indicator of the world’s chances of reaching a deal in 2015. That’s the new watershed year in the U.N.-led process after a 2009 summit in Copenhagen ended in discord.
The death toll from the devastation has been placed at around 10,000. That is an very early estimate and could very well climb drastically as rescue and relief workers reach areas that have been cut off.
Al Jazeera correspondent Jamela Alindogan, who reported from Tacloban after Typhoon Haiyan struck and herself struggling to survive the storm joined Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! to discuss the “unimaginable” devastation of one the worst storms in history.
Typhoon Haiyan sent huge waves that inundated towns, washed ships ashore and swept away coastal villages. More than 600,000 people have been displaced, and many still have no access to food, water or medicine. The city of Tacloban was described as a scene of massive devastation, with bodies scattered in the streets and buried under flattened buildings.
Transcript can be read here
In the second segment, Jeff Masters, director of meteorology at the Weather Underground, and Maria Madamba-Nunez, spokesperson for Oxfam in the Philippines, join the conversation.
Transcript can be read here