Super Typhoon highlights climate threat
By James Copley
As we go to press, the death toll from the super typhoon Haiyan is rapidly mounting in the Philippines as it smashed through the Pacific nation. Deaths are reported to have topped 10,000, yet the true count is still far from complete.
The typhoon has wrought destruction across the islands. With wind speeds reaching 140 to 170 mph, this makes it one of the most powerful storms on record. Nearly the entirety of the city of Tacloban (population 220,000) has been flattened by huge storm surges. Large parts of the country are without communications, hampering relief efforts and preventing their effective coordination.
This disaster is hitting a region that is still recovering from a magnitude 7.2-magnitude earthquake that hit last month.
Moreover, climate scientists predict that as the global climate warms there will be will be more such “extreme weather” incidents of even greater intensity. This is the price we are paying for capitalism’s excessive pollution of the planet. The particular cruelty of Haiyan, however, is that extreme tropical storms nearly always strike semi-colonial countries, those with the least resources to protect and rebuild afterwards.
It is likely that the coming days and weeks will see a coordinated international relief effort for the region. This should be paid for entirely by the imperialist nations and also the transnational petrochemicals giant that, standing above national jurisdictions, further the destruction of our planet.
But it also indicates how vital the struggle against capitalism’s climate change is, especially as governments use the economic crisis as an excuse for dropping or downsizing their green budgets.