Recently, the Philippines was hit with the worst typhoon in recorded history. The city of Tacloban was almost completely destroyed and even now, the country’s citizens desperately need aid. And the worst part? This isn’t the first time.
Last year saw the worst typhoon in Filipino history. At the UN climate talks in Doha, Naderev “Yeb” Saño, the Philippines representative, gave a tearful speech asking the world to open their eyes to the destruction caused by Typhoon Bopha and that we could hesitate no longer to take action on climate change.
One year later came Typhoon Haiyan. And Saño had another speech for Warsaw.
For the Philippines, deadly storms are now an annual reality. How many times will the country need aid? How many times will Saño make the same desperate speech? And how many times will we have this discussion on climate change before we actually do something?
Ah yes, climate change. There may not be evidence directly correlating Haiyan to rising temperatures, but warmer waters do lead to stronger storms and an unsettling trend. Yet for many, bringing up climate change is opportunistic in a time of tragedy. Is it opportunistic to seek the root cause of these calamities, without which we cannot properly find solutions? Nature does not bend to public opinion. But yes, we need to open dialogue before Saño has to mourn over the country’s losses and act to prevent disaster before the fact. Global warming is now nearly impossible to stop, but we can still prevent it from getting even worse.
The country needs aid now, so we must all do our part to donate to relief efforts. But in dealing with the problems of the present, we must also look to the future to prevent more lives being ruined. And as Hurricane Sandy reminds us, it’s our problem too.