Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Signs All Around Us

As of late, we've been hearing about all sorts of "SCANDAL!!!" on Capitol Hill. Apparently, there's even an uproar over donuts. Yep, the desperate G-O-TEA search for anything to distract us from their failure to govern "SCANDAL!!!" continues.

Yet while many on Capitol Hill are fixated on the latest haute faux scandal(s), there's a very real scandal brewing dangerously close to home. Believe it or not, most states' disaster mitigation plans do not properly account for climate change. And sadly for us, Nevada is one of those states.

We should know better. After all, we've been experiencing epic drought and a frightening chain of major wildfires. It's become increasingly difficult to miss the signs of climate change emerging all around us.

Unfortunately, as many as 500,000 people in The Philippines are displaced as a result of Typhoon Haiyan. And at least 2,000 people have died. And the damage is not even over yet, as Haiyan is now hitting Vietnam and China.

The Philippines has endured a horrific wakeup call. And now, it's leaders want to wake us up.

"We cannot sit and stay helpless staring at this international climate stalemate. It is now time to take action. We need an emergency climate pathway," said Yeb Sano, head of the government's delegation to the UN climate talks, in an article for the Guardian, in which he challenged climate sceptics to "get off their ivory towers" to see the impacts of climate change firsthand.

Sano, whose family comes from the devastated town of Tacloban where the typhoon Haiyan made landfall on Friday, said that countries such as the Philippines did not have time to wait for an international climate deal, which countries have agreed to reach in Paris in 2015.

"What my country is going through as a result of this extreme climate event is madness," he told delagates from 190 countries, as UN climate negotiations get underway for a fortnight today in Warsaw. "The climate crisis is madness. We can stop this madness. Right here in Warsaw. Typhoons such as Haiyan and its impacts represent a sobering reminder to the international community that we cannot afford to procrastinate on climate action.

"Science tells us that simply, climate change will mean more intense tropical storms. As the Earth warms up, that would include the oceans. The energy that is stored in the waters off the Philippines will increase the intensity of typhoons and the trend we now see is that more destructive storms will be the new norm."

Whether it's an extreme super typhoon in The Philippines or extreme wildfires in the exurban fringes of Nevada's major population centers, we can see the signs all around us. So what will we do now? Unless we take serious action very soon, this climate crisis will only continue to worsen.

We can no longer afford to fret over imaginary threats to donuts while real people are harmed by real disasters. We can no longer afford to ignore the signs all around us. And we can no longer treat climate change like some esoteric topic to be left for debate societies to postulate on.

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