Climate Terrorism and the Philippines

(23 November 2013)

This week brought yet another year in which the U.N. climate summit failed to produce any meaningful (i.e., binding) changes.

In the mean time, the people of the Philippines and elsewhere are bled dry by climate change, almost entirely caused by the so-called 1st world.

A new study, meanwhile, shows just 90 corporations have been responsible for nearly 2/3rds of all greenhouse gas emissions since the Industrial Revolution began in 1854. According to the Climate Accountability Institute, 1/2 of all emissions have been produced in the past 25 years. The top corporate polluters are Chevron, ExxonMobil, Saudi Aramco, BP and Gazprom.

Climate change is not just some minor issue that means we have to put on more sunscreen and wear shorts more often. Anthropogenic climate change leads to the loss of countless human lives. As head NASA climate scientist James Hansen explained over a year ago:

Our analysis shows that it is no longer enough to say that global warming will increase the likelihood of extreme weather and to repeat the caveat that no individual weather event can be directly linked to climate change. To the contrary, our analysis shows that, for the extreme hot weather of the recent past, there is virtually no explanation other than climate change.

A great article on the subject ran in The Guardian this week.

Will extreme weather like super typhoon Haiyan become the new norm?

Climate scientists are confident in three ways that climate change will make the impacts of hurricanes worse. First, global warming causes sea level rise, which amplifies storm surges and flooding associated with hurricanes. As a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by Aslak Grinsted and colleagues concluded,

we have probably crossed the threshold where Katrina magnitude hurricane surges are more likely caused by global warming than not.

Second, as climate scientist Kevin Trenberth has noted, global warming has also increased the amount of moisture in the air, causing more rainfall and amplifying flooding during hurricanes.

Third, warmer oceans are fuel for hurricanes. Research has shown that the strongest hurricanes have grown stronger in most ocean basins around the world over the past several decades, and climate models consistently project that this trend will continue. Chris Mooney recently documented the past decade’s worth of monster hurricanes around the world, and Jeff Masters estimates that 6 of the 13 strongest tropical cyclones on record at landfall have happened since 1998.

The chief negotiator for the Philippines “begged” for action at the climate summit; he went on hunger strike. Yet to no avail.

And as the death poll passes 5000 (as a conservatively estimated minimum), it’s increasingly clear that, to the West, these lives simply don’t matter. Profits are to be made, and reducing carbon emissions, saving the planet, is not profitable.

This is climate terrorism. Its political message: corporate profits are more important than the lives of those lost by climate change.