Nov 15 2013

Haiyan: A Disaster Made Worse by Greed

Published by Truthdig.com on November 15, 2013

By Sonali Kolhatkar

While the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report is 95 percent confident that global warming is caused by human activity (there are very few areas of active research in which scientists are so confident), what falls out of the scope of the report is which humans are responsible. The Philippines, which is one of the poorest and least developed nations on the planet, has had little hand in creating the conditions that nurtured Typhoon Haiyan (or Yolanda, as it’s known locally), possibly the worst storm in recorded human history.

“It’s just shocking. We’ve never seen anything like this before,” Alex Montances said to me of Haiyan, which made landfall in the Philippines on Nov. 8. Montances is the Southern California regional coordinator for the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns and for him, the storm literally hit close to home. Montances’ mother is from Tacloban in the province of Leyte, the hardest-hit area that was already suffering from the twin effects of poverty and environmentally destructive mining operations.

People and infrastructure have been washed away, children have been orphaned, families have been separated, homes have been flattened and, as of this writing, heavy rainfall was still hampering the survivors’ ability to regroup, rescue others and simply live another day. The numbers are staggering. Nearly 10 million people are affected—about a tenth of the entire population of the Philippines. As many as 800,000 people have been displaced. Leyte’s provincial governor estimated that 10,000 people were dead, and while it is still too early to account for all the fatalities, even the current official count of 2,300 is horrifically high.

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