My colleague Claire and I are now at the international climate talks in Warsaw - we got out of Manila just as Typhoon Haiyan, the most powerful in recorded history, was making landfall in the Philippines, our home.
All our worries were confirmed when the first video coverage appeared after several hours of complete black out as all communications were down. I have many friends and colleagues in the worst hit area.
These friends and colleagues lost children. They lost parents and grandparents. They had their families shattered. They had to drag bodies out with their bare hands. They are still without proper food, water or shelter.
Philippine government agencies estimate that thousands are feared dead in Leyte island alone. CNN reports more than 800,000 people are dislocated. 800,000 souls ripped from their homes.
This is the fourth super-typhoon to hit the Philippines this year. These extreme weather events are increasing in severity. This is in line with what the science suggests: more ferocious extreme weather, driven by human emissions of climate changing gases.
A year ago during the UN Climate Summit in Doha, Qatar - with Typhoon Pablo making its destructive way through Mindanao (Southern Philippines), leaving over a thousand people dead, dislocating tens of thousands of families, destroying homes, crops and livelihoods and changing the landscape across a vast area. Those areas have not yet substantively recovered. Everyone acknowledged then that Typhoon Pablo underscored the urgent need to arrive at international agreements for decisively addressing climate change - both its causes and consequences.
Here we are one year later, at the beginning of another UN Climate Summit, with news of even greater devastation in the Philippines from Typhoon Haiyan, and still no real progress in international climate negotiations.
Our sorrow and our rage should make us fight harder, in all arenas at all levels, to demand that those responsible for this planetary crisis take immediate decisive action towards just and equitable solutions. It should make us work faster in building our movements and scaling up our actions, in effecting a shift in power relations and transforming the unjust and destructive system that is at the root of climate change.
Now in Warsaw, we are once again working with Friends of the Earth to raise the voices demanding change and building on our joint work over the last month during our global month of action: Reclaim Power.
We are urging international Governments to increase climate pollution controls and ban new dirty energy projects - and to deliver clean energy through people-controlled, democratic systems. And sadly, because it is now necessary, calling for an international system to deal with the loss and damage caused by the climate change we can no longer avoid.
Published in Huffpost Impact
Today, the US is poised on an enterprise it knows best – warmongering – to shape and control the affairs of peoples and nation-states for its own ends. No other country on earth has military presence that stretches across more than 170 countries, more than 1,000 military bases and the biggest military budget in the world.
Again, US officials are sure of their facts, and President Obama, Nobel Peace Prize winner, is trumpeting them as the basis for a “limited” military strike on Syria. Just a few years ago, they were also certain of the existence of “weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq, which the US itself encouraged when Saddam Hussein was still in its good graces; accordingly, Bush spun a war of aggression around it.
Syria is already in deep turmoil, with various powers and interests circling like vultures to see which pawns can move their agenda. Singling out Syria lets slip the powerful Israeli lobby behind US’ military directions in the region to bring to heel Iraq, Iran and now Syria. A military strike on Syria by the US or any other foreign power, no matter how limited, can only deepen internal divisions, add to the bloodshed and further exacerbate human suffering. As America’s own record shows, no act of aggression can be limited, nor can the devastation left in its wake be contained.
The Earth’s climate is destabilizing and the planet is in crisis.
· Scientists predict that about 625,000 people will die each year from now until 2020 by causes driven by climate change.
· Many mountain glaciers, which act as source of water for millions of people, have significantly retreated. Changes in rain-fall patterns, due to climate change, are causing even greater water-stress particularly in Western Africa and South Asia.
· There is 80% less Arctic-sea ice today than in 1950. The melting of ice causes sea-level rise, threatening 600 million people living less than 10 meters above sea-level and coastal cities such as Mumbai, Shanghai, Manila, Rio de Janeiro, New York, Istanbul and 7 more of the world’s 20 biggest cities.
We are movements and organizations engaged in many struggles for a new world - a world in which the needs, interests, rights and aspirations of peoples everywhere have priority over the profit of corporations and the excess of elites. In the years ahead, our solidarity and collective action is extremely crucial. Climate change is already having devastating impacts globally and is accelerating. The window for preventing the breach of tipping points and stopping climate catastrophe is rapidly closing.
Climate change is more than multiplying the sufferings of people already burdened by the global injustices of hunger, dispossession and violation of human rights. It is a crisis that also threatens to wipe out vast populations and profoundly change life on Earth. We must act with clarity, cohesion and courage if we are to stabilize the Earth’s climate system and secure a just and sustainable world.
Since Copenhagen we have witnessed the escalation of efforts by developed countries, led by the United States, to undermine and overturn Climate Convention principles and legally binding agreements. Governments of Canada, Japan and Russia have even explicitly stated they have no intention of fulfilling their obligations under the Kyoto Protocol.