Super typhoons, hurricanes, global warming and global denial

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Super typhoons, hurricanes, global warming and global denial


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The growing number and severity of typhoons and supertyphoons are already having an devastating economic impact in addition to an ever growing death toll.  The chief Philippine negotiator, Nadero Sano, at the climate change conference points out that

 "Each destructive typhoon season costs us 2% of our GDP, and the reconstruction costs a further 2%, which means we lose nearly 5% of our economy every year to storms. We have received no climate finance to adapt or to prepare ourselves for typhoons and other extreme weather we are now experiencing. We have not seen any money from the rich countries to help us to adapt ... We cannot go on like this. It cannot be a way of life that we end up running always from storms," he said. He later told the assembly: "Climate change negotiations cannot be based on the way we currently measure progress. It is a clear sign of planetary and economic and environmental dysfunction ... The whole world, especially developing countries struggling to address poverty and achieve social and human development, confronts these same realities." ...

Typhoon Haiyan, like Bopha, will be seen widely in developing countries as a taste of what is to come, along with rising sea levels and water shortages. But what alarms the governments of vulnerable countries the most is that they believe rich countries have lost the political will to address climate change at the speed needed to avoid catastrophic change in years to come.

From being top of the global political agenda just four years ago, climate change is now barely mentioned by the political elites in London or Washington, Tokyo or Paris. Australia is not even sending a junior minister to Warsaw. The host, Poland, will be using the meeting to celebrate its coal industry. The pitifully small pledges of money made by rich countries to help countries such as the Philippines or Bangladesh to adapt to climate change have barely materialised. Meanwhile, fossil fuel subsidies are running at more than $500bn (£311bn) a year, and vested commercial interests are increasingly influencing the talks.

As the magnitude of the adverse impacts of human-induced climate change becomes apparent, the most vulnerable countries say they have no option but to go it alone. The good news is that places such as Bangladesh, Nepal, the small island states of the Pacific and Caribbean, and many African nations, are all starting to adapt their farming, fishing and cities.

But coping with major storms, as well as sea level rise and water shortages, is expected to cost poor countriues trillions of dollars, which they do not have. "Time is running out," Saño told the world last year. "Please, let this year be remembered as the year the world found the courage to take responsibility for the future we want. I ask of all of us here, if not us, then who? If not now, then when? If not here, then where?"



The following article explains how unusual Haiyan is and how it and the frequency of highly intense storms are related to global warming. 


Haiyan is a strange storm in both its strength and because it comes very late in the typhoon season, which officially ended November 1, said Colin Price, head of the geophysical, atmospheric, and planetary sciences department at Tel Aviv University in Israel.

Although the overall number of hurricanes, cyclones, and typhoons—all the same weather phenomenon—hasn't increased over the past decades, the proportion of more intense storms has, Price explained. (See "Typhoon, Hurricane, Cyclone: What's the Difference?")

"All typhoons feed off the warm ocean waters," he said. The moisture-laden air above these regions is the fuel that fires the engines in these storms.

"We've seen in the past decades the oceans are warming up, likely due to climate change," said Price. "So warmer oceans will give us more energy for these storms, likely resulting in more intense storms."

Haiyan dipped down near the Equator, where it likely picked up some more steam, before heading to the Philippines, he said.

It's similar to what happened when Hurricane Katrina picked up steam as it passed over the warm pool of water in the Gulf of Mexico in August 2005.



Meanwhile the global fossil fuel industry continues its ever increasing expansion plans in total denial of the growing climate disaster. 

Canadian oil sands production are expected to almost triple by 2020 and plans are underway to greatly increase natural gas production in order to export LNG.

Canadian oil sands production would grow from 1.2 million barrels per day (190,000 m3/d) in 2008 to 3.3 million barrels per day (520,000 m3/d) in 2020

Fracking has become North America's number one growth industry.

The Arctic nations (Canada, the United States, Russia, Denmark (via Greenland), and Norway are all staking claims to Arctic Ocean resources and especially fossil fuels as its ice melts and they become more readily available.

For example, Canada and Denmark are engaged in a sovereignty dispute over Hans Island and potential nearby fossil fuel deposits. It would be a Gilbert and Sullivan comic opera if the consequences weren't so serious. 

Recent estimates put Arctic undersea oil reserves at 13 per cent of the global total of undiscovered oil, and natural gas at 30 per cent of the total. One microcosm of sovereignty issues in the North — and how they could be solved — is the three-decade-old land ownership dispute between Canada and Denmark over Hans Island, a speck of geography in the High Arctic between Ellesmere Island and Greenland....

Whenever the Canadian military arrived, it would yank out the Danish flag, replace it with the Maple Leaf and switch the Schnapps with a bottle of Canadian Club. And so on.

The US has allowed a Shell Oil exploration ship to search for oil off Alaska that only showed how ill-prepared for such work in the extremely ecologically sensitive Arctic region such firms are. The entire expedition was "fraught with accidents and controversy" which is described below.

Russia has charged Greenpeace protesters this year with criminal charges having long sentences in order to frighten off further protests as it continues its Arctic fossil fuel exploitation. 

Saudi Arabia plans on expanding oil production significantly. 


Global energy service giants are banking on a boom in Saudi oil and gas drilling over the next few years to revive profits that are being squeezed by overcapacity in the North American market. Schlumberger, Halliburton and Baker Hughes have all singled out Saudi Arabia as a major growth market for next year as they search the globe for better returns than the saturated US and Canadian markets offer. Dozens of offshore and onshore rigs are being lined up for drilling in Saudi Arabia in 2014, and service companies are expanding their Saudi operations to meet buoyant demand.

Australia, the world's number one exporter of coal (,  continues to deny how its fossil fuel industry is contributing to the effects of global warming, including the ever growing number and severity of forest fires in Australia, while celebrating the economic growth created by fossil fuel exploitation.



And FWIW, Babblers interested in supporting the emergency response work currently underway in the Philippines can head to the website of the Humanitarian Coalition, a grouping of five (secular) NGOs that co-ordinate efforts in times of emergency appeals.


The complete devastation in Tacloban, a city of 220,000, is overwhelming as can be seen in the following video. The title for the video and accompanying news clip says it all: "Struggle for Survival in Tacloban, Philippine city flattened by Haiyan"



There are now more than 9.7 million people in 41 provinces in the Philippines affected by Haiyan. While the CBC reported an confirmed death toll of 942 a few hours ago, the new confirmed death toll is 1770 only a few hours later. The final death toll is expected to surpass 10,000. The government is considering imposing martial law in the affected regions as people desperate for food and water do whatever they have to in order to survive. 

The Canadian government, which unfortunately denies how its fossil fuels contributes to climate disasters such as this, has promised $5 million in aid and to match any donations by Canadians to Philippine relief. Whatever you think of our government and its policies, please consider giving to help these desperate people. Details for contributing are given in the article below (as well as more details at the website). 


The city of Tacloban resembled a garbage dump from the air, punctuated only by a few concrete buildings that remained standing.

"I don't believe there is a single structure that is not destroyed or severely damaged in some way — every single building, every single house," U.S. Marine Brig. Gen. Paul Kennedy said after taking a helicopter flight over the city. He spoke on the tarmac at the airport, where two Marine C-130 cargo planes were parked, engines running, unloading supplies.

Authorities said at least 9.7 million people in 41 provinces were affected by the typhoon, which is called Yolanda in the Philippines but is known as Haiyan elsewhere in Asia. It's one of the most powerful recorded typhoons to ever hit land and likely the deadliest natural disaster to beset this poor Southeast Asian nation. ...

[Canada announced] Sunday that it would offer up to $5 million in aid for the relief effort.

Minister of International Development Christian Paradis said in a teleconference on Sunday that Ottawa will also match each dollar donated by Canadians to registered Canadian charities for the Philippines Crisis Matching Fund.

Donations will be accepted until Dec 8.




Details for the Typhoon Haiyan Relief Fund are given below with more details available at the website below. 

 To be counted for the purposes of the Typhoon Haiyan Relief Fund, donations from individual Canadians may not exceed $100,000 per individual and must be:

  • monetary in nature.
  • made to a registered Canadian charity that is receiving donations in response to the impact of Typhoon Haiyan.
  • specifically earmarked for response to Typhoon Haiyan.
  • be made between November 9 and December 9, 2013.

Donation criteria for registered charities

Registered charities declaring eligible donations must complete the declaration form. Forms must be received by DFATD on or before December 23 for donations to be counted towards the size of the relief fund.

To ensure that donations are eligible for the matching program, you should ensure that:

  • the donation complies with the conditions outlined above,
  • the registered charity receiving the donation will be using the funds in response to the humanitarian crisis related to the impact of Typhoon Haiyan, and
  • the registered charity receiving the donation will be declaring it to DFATD.

Declaration form

It is up to the registered Canadian charity to certify, through the Typhoon Haiyan Relief Matching Fund 2013 Declaration Form, that the donations declared are eligible. Registered Canadian charities are under no obligation to declare donations to DFATD if they are not satisfied that they meet eligibility requirements. Registered charities declaring eligible donations must complete the declaration form. Forms must be received by DFATD on or before December 23 for donations to be counted towards the size of the relief fund.




With Typhoon Haiyan hitting the Philippines at estimated speeds of 320 to 380 km/hour (Hurricane Sandy did $65 billion damage in the US at 190 km/hr), it is the fastest moving storm to hit landfall in history. There are already an estimated 10,000 deaths in Leyte province alone, which is only one of 20 provinces hit by the storm. These super storms are exactly what was predicted by the computer global warming models as the extra heat in the water fuels more and ever faster storms. 

At the same time, the latest round of UN climate change talks are taking place in Warsaw, where the Polish government is holding a conference promoting its coal industry next door to the UN conference, a symbol of how serious most governments are about dealing with global warming. Our governments continue to sleep through the five alarm fire bells warming of ever greater global problems. However, Third World countries like the Philippines, Bangladesh, and the small island nations of the South Pacific (such as the Maldives, Seychelles, Palau that are facing disappearance due to rising sea levels) believe the First World, which has provided none of its promised $100 billion climate change mitigation fund, has no intention of doing little more than talk. While some effort has been made to move away from coal, virtually all climate change experts not tied to the fossil fuel industry state a lot more has to be done a lot faster. 


The timing is tragically ironic. As Super Typhoon Haiyan -- one of the strongest storms ever recorded -- smashes into the Philippines, sending millions fleeing for safety, negotiators from around the world are beginning to arrive in Warsaw, Poland for the latest installment of the United Nations Climate Talks, COP 19.

Climate change is loading the dice for extreme weather events like Haiyan. The storms strength and rapid development have been aided by unusually warm ocean waters and warm, moist air (warm air holds more water vapor than cold). Global warming also causes sea level rise, increasing the risk of flooding from storm surges, especially in low-lying areas like much of the Philippines. Carbon dioxide is the steroids that leads to grand-slam storms like Haiyan.

Haiyan should be a five-alarm wake up call for negotiators in Warsaw and the capitals that sent them here. Over the next two-weeks, despite the best attempts of the nations most vulnerable to climate change, negotiators from the largest emitting countries will bask under the fluorescent lights of yet another conference center to bicker, delay, and obfuscate. Meanwhile, millions of people in the Philippines -- and other impacted communities around the world -- will be sleeping in relief centers and bravely trying to rebuild their homes.

The United Nations tried to make this year's climate meeting a summit focused on finance, but the Green Climate Fund, which is supposed to provide $100 billion every year by 2020 for adaptation and mitigation efforts, remains empty, and there's no sign that rich countries will come to the table in Warsaw with any serious pledges.

Instead, the Polish government has turned this year's Conference of the Parties into the "Coal COP," going so far as to host a World Coal Summit next-door to the official climate negotiations. It's like throwing a tobacco industry expo next-door to a global meeting of cancer experts. It's the gun show next to a world peace summit.

Coal fired power plants are the largest source of greenhouse gas emission in the world, making coal the number one threat to the climate. If we want a future for the planet, there is no future for coal.

So far, Poland's attempts to promote the future of the coal industry at the climate summit has only cast more of a spotlight on the fragile state of the industry.

In the United States, coal demand has fallen by about 20 percent over the last five years, while environmental regulations in Europe will force the closure of many coal fired power plants over the next decade. The drop in demand has resulted in a similar drop in share price for many coal companies, sometimes by as much as 75 percent.

The situation for the industry will only get worse. According to a growing number of reports by institutions like the World Bank, HSBC, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 60-80 percent of current fossil fuel reserves must stay underground in order to limit global warming to below 2°C. Coal, and other high-carbon, unconventional fuels such as tar sands, are likely to be the hardest hit by the tightening carbon budget.

The threat of these reserves turning into stranded assets has led many investors to start shedding their coal industry stocks, and fueled fears of a carbon bubble resulting from the overvaluation of fossil fuel companies. The prices of some coal mining companies have plummeted 75 percent, many others have gone out of business. Meanwhile, the growing fossil fuel divestment campaign is continuing to turn up the heat on institutions to divest from the coal industry and other major-holders of fossil fuel reserves.

Climate activists in the Philippines are already making the connection between Haiyan and the need to end the global dependence on coal. In an interview with the Sun Star, Voltaire Alferez, the national coordinator for Aksyon Klima, a climate coalition in the Philippines, called on the government to start protecting communities rather than polluters. ...

The test for any would-be climate leader here at the UN Climate Talks in Poland will be whether they are willing to stand up to the fossil fuel industry and tell them that the age of coal is over, and that it's time to start investing in the future. That's especially true for UN Climate Secretary Christiana Figueres, who is keynoting World Coal Conference.

I'm straining to give Figueres the benefit of the doubt--she spoke emotionally to hundreds of young people about the need for bold climate action at the Global Power Shift summit last summer, breaking into tears at one point. If she goes to the summit and calls for an end to the coal industry, it will be a powerful moment. If instead, she plays the politician and spouts off some lies about clean coal, it will be a slap in the face to every young person who believed in her -- and the millions of people in the Philippines who will still be recovering from Haiyan.

From Haiyan to Sandy to Bopha (another major storm that hit the Philippines last year), our so-called leaders have heard alarm after alarm and continued to hit the snooze button. It's time to kick them out of bed and demand action. Warsaw could be the start.



“It’s time to stop this madness” – Philippines plea at UN climate talks


It was barely 11 months ago in Doha when my delegation appealed to the world… to open our eyes to the stark reality that we face… as then we confronted a catastrophic storm that resulted in the costliest disaster in Philippine history. Less than a year hence, we cannot imagine that a disaster much bigger would come. With an apparent cruel twist of fate, my country is being tested by this hellstorm called Super Typhoon Haiyan, which has been described by experts as the strongest typhoon that has ever made landfall in the course of recorded human history. It was so strong that if there was a Category 6, it would have fallen squarely in that box.


To anyone who continues to deny the reality that is climate change, I dare you to get off your ivory tower and away from the comfort of you armchair. I dare you to go to the islands of the Pacific, the islands of the Caribbean and the islands of the Indian ocean and see the impacts of rising sea levels; to the mountainous regions of the Himalayas and the Andes to see communities confronting glacial floods, to the Arctic where communities grapple with the fast dwindling polar ice caps, to the large deltas of the Mekong, the Ganges, the Amazon, and the Nile where lives and livelihoods are drowned, to the hills of Central America that confronts similar monstrous hurricanes, to the vast savannas of Africa where climate change has likewise become a matter of life and death as food and water becomes scarce. Not to forget the massive hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico and the eastern seaboard of North America. And if that is not enough, you may want to pay a visit to the Philippines right now. The science has given us a picture that has become much more in focus. The IPCC report on climate change and extreme events underscored the risks associated with changes in the patterns as well as frequency of extreme weather events. Science tells us that simply, climate change will mean more intense tropical storms. As the Earth warms up, that would include the oceans.


We must stop calling events like these as natural disasters. It is not natural when people continue to struggle to eradicate poverty and pursue development and gets battered by the onslaught of a monster storm now considered as the strongest storm ever to hit land. It is not natural when science already tells us that global warming will induce more intense storms. It is not natural when the human species has already profoundly changed the climate. Disasters are never natural. They are the intersection of factors other than physical. They are the accumulation of the constant breach of economic, social, and environmental thresholds. Most of the time disasters is a result of inequity and the poorest people of the world are at greatest risk because of their vulnerability and decades of maldevelopment, which I must assert is connected to the kind of pursuit of economic growth that dominates the world; the same kind of pursuit of so-called economic growth and unsustainable consumption that has altered the climate system.


Here is the video of Yeb Sano, the Filipino delegate, speaking at the Warsaw conference on climate change yesterday. At the end of the speech he promises to fast until a meaningful agreement on climate change is passed. He received a three minute standing ovation. However, while government representatives to such conferences may be more sympathetic to such changes than their governments in many cases, the problem of achieving such an agreement and then applying and enforcing it remains.


The charts below show the close correlation between the increase in temperature and weather catastrophes as predicted by computer global warming models as rising heat energy and temperatures track the severity of weather events. The top chart comes from Munich RE, an insurance company, that tracks such events closely as it affects tThe amount of money it pays out in insurance claims. The other charts come from NASA. 


refer to captionGlobal mean land-ocean temperature change from 1880–2012, relative to the 1951–1980 mean. The black line is the annual mean and the red line is the 5-year running mean. The green bars show uncertainty estimates. Source: NASA GISS. (click for larger image)Map of temperature changes across the worldkey to above map of temperature changesThe map shows the 10-year average (2000–2009) global mean temperature anomaly relative to the 1951–1980 mean. The largest temperature increases are in the Arctic and the Antarctic Peninsula. Source: NASA Earth Observatory[1]refer to captionFossil fuel related CO2 emissions compared to five of the IPCC's "SRES" emissions scenarios. The dips are related to global recessions. Image source: Skeptical Science.

Global warming is the rise in the average temperature of Earth's atmosphere and oceans since the late 19th century and its projected continuation. Since the early 20th century, Earth's 



The first graph in the last post illustrates a major difference between North American and European insurance firms when it comes to climate change. While European insurance firms have often been one of the major groups pushing laws and regulation related to global change and in providing information to support this position, the silence of North American insurance firms has been deafening. The actions of the North American firms seems counterintuitive since fewer climate change catastrophes would almost certainly reduce insurance payouts related to these disasters. The articles below and in the next post discuss the expectation by both the North American and European insurance industry that global warming disasters will get worse and why the insurance industries on the two continents have responded differently.


From Hurricane Sandy’s devastating blow to the Northeast to the protracted drought that hit the Midwest Corn Belt, natural catastrophes across the United States pounded insurers last year, generating $35 billion in privately insured property losses, $11 billion more than the average over the last decade.

And the industry expects the situation will get worse. “Numerous studies assume a rise in summer drought periods in North America in the future and an increasing probability of severe cyclones relatively far north along the U.S. East Coast in the long term,” said Peter Höppe, who heads Geo Risks Research at the reinsurance giant Munich Re. “The rise in sea level caused by climate change will further increase the risk of storm surge.” Most insurers, including the reinsurance companies that bear much of the ultimate risk in the industry, have little time for the arguments heard in some right-wing circles that climate change isn’t happening, and are quite comfortable with the scientific consensus that burning fossil fuels is the main culprit of global warming.

“Insurance is heavily dependent on scientific thought,” Frank Nutter, president of the Reinsurance Association of America, told me last week. “It is not as amenable to politicized scientific thought.”

Yet when I asked Mr. Nutter what the American insurance industry was doing to combat global warming, his answer was surprising: nothing much. “The industry has really not been engaged in advocacy related to carbon taxes or proposals addressing carbon,” he said. While some big European reinsurers like Munich Re and Swiss Re support efforts to reduce CO2 emissions, “in the United States the household names really have not engaged at all.” Instead, the focus of insurers’ advocacy efforts is zoning rules and disaster mitigation. ...

Nutter argues that the insurance industry’s reluctance is born of hesitation to become embroiled in controversies over energy policy. But perhaps its executives simply don’t feel so vulnerable. Like farmers, who are largely protected from the ravages of climate change by government-financed crop insurance, insurers also have less to fear than it might at first appear (this seems, in my opinion, to have a minor role at most in producing the North American insurance non-response to climate change as will be explained in the next post).


The following article offers reasons why the North American and European insurance firms have taken opposite approaches to climate change with European firms arguing North American firms being too focused on the short term and too afraid of litigation by energy companies over potential losses. However, according to a CBC Radio Sunday Edition report a decade ago, all the major North American inxurance companies have large blocks of their shares owned by fossil fuel corportations. In my opinion, this is the most important reason for the difference. 


 A report published last September by Ceres, a Boston-based coalition of investors and environmental groups, puts it starkly. Surveying the disclosures of 88 U.S. insurance companies to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), it found that only 11 had formal climate change policies and that just 60 percent were assessing climate risks.

Insurers are central to how we deal, or don’t deal, with climate change. They price the risk facing property owners, and others, from weather events — effectively sending a signal to the rest of the economy about how seriously to take the threat. And with $23 trillion in global investments, insurers are also systemically important. If these companies fail to properly account for the risks they face from climate change, they could become financially vulnerable, with serious repercussions for the global economy.

As the Ceres report puts it: “With the world still reeling from the devastating impacts of an economic crisis triggered by hidden risks in the banking sector, we can ill afford a new problem triggered by hidden risks in another.”

The report revealed a growing divide between U.S insurers and their European counterparts, who have been some of the strongest business advocates for taking action to slow global warming. European insurance executives also have been critical of the U.S industry for not being more proactive.

“It is frustrating to see that it’s so extremely difficult to include this huge risk of climate change into current business,” says Andreas Spiegel, senior climate change adviser at Swiss Re, a large reinsurance company. “There is a bit of a short-term view on the benefits, risks, and costs.”

Regulators are also concerned. Three state insurance commissioners — in California, New York, and Washington State — last month said they would require about 300 insurers to file an NAIC survey, raising the number of insurers for which public disclosure is compulsory. (One other state, Pennsylvania, requires a smaller number of insurers to publicly disclose how they are managing climate change; three others, plus Puerto Rico, do not require disclosure to be public, while the rest require no disclosure at all).

“The essence of insurance is the analysis of risk,” said Robert Easton, New York’s lead insurance regulator. “We are asking insurers to share their views of the risk of climate change so that we can be sure that the industry and regulators are appropriately prepared.”

Risk takes two main forms. The first is damage claims, which could rise significantly as a warmer atmosphere — which holds more moisture — is expected to generate more extreme weather, including more powerful hurricanes and increased flooding. The damage wrought by rising sea levels, which some experts forecast could increase by three to six feet this century, could also create massive liabilities for insurance companies.

In addition, Ceres says that insurance companies face a growing risk of litigation from individuals or groups seeking to hold power companies and other major greenhouse gas emitters liable for causing global warming in the first place.

“Climate change has also become the subject of significant litigation in recent years, a trend which is likely to grow as the physical impacts of climate change become more pronounced and affected parties seek redress in the courts,” Ceres says.

In 2010, 132 climate-related cases were filed in U.S courts, according to Deutsche Bank Climate Change Advisors. The majority of these involved activists or state governments trying to prod the federal government into climate action, or industries arguing that federal agencies had over-reached in regulating climate change.

Recently, however, some groups have brought cases against historical emitters, such as energy companies. And insurers could one day find themselves on the hook both for legal costs in these cases, as well as the liability from legal rulings, some experts contend. Plaintiffs face a daunting array of legal challenges in trying to prove that individual greenhouse gas emitters are liable for damages from global warming, including the fact that the major sources of greenhouse gas emissions — oil companies, coal companies, utilities — are global and number in the many thousands. Still, some analysts have wondered whether climate-related damages could eventually match the size of payouts in asbestos and tobacco litigation.

“In recent years, the insurance industry has been closely monitoring attempts to base liability claims for damages on greenhouse gas emissions,” says Ina Ebert, leading liability and insurance law expert at Munich Re, a large German reinsurer.

“Climate liability is considered one of the emerging risks that could gain in importance for the insurance industry in coming years.”

Insurers could be sued both by emitters that are trying to pass on liability, or by investors claiming they did not adequately disclose risks to the market. In 2010, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) asked companies to report how climate change may affect profitability, potentially opening the way for investor lawsuits.

The risks of lawsuits are already evident. This spring, Virginia’s Supreme Court reheard AES Corporation v. Steadfast Insurance Co., a first-of-its-kind case for the insurance industry. AES, an energy-generation company, argued that Steadfast should cover its legal fees, and potential losses, in a separate climate lawsuit. AES is one of more than 20 energy companies being sued by the coastal village of Kivalina, in Alaska, which alleges that the companies’ emissions caused its land to become uninhabitable because melting sea ice and rising seas are enabling storms to erode the town’s shoreline.

Virginia’s highest court ruled that Steadfast did not have to defend AES, because the claims for which it sought coverage were not “an occurrence” under the policy. But experts say other jurisdictions could be more sympathetic, potentially opening the way for emitters to be certain that their liabilities are covered by insurers.


Despite Haiyan's world record wind speeds and the damage and death it caused in the Philippines, the annual UN conference on climate change held as this storm struck will almost certainly achieve the same amount as previous conferences - nice words and not much else. 


As global warming proceeds, some of the poorest people in the world, who have had the least to do with the burning of fossil fuels, stand to be among the primary victims in small island nations and in countries like Bangladesh, India and the Philippines.

Developing countries want the West — historically responsible for emissions, for the most part — not only to take the lead in reducing the use of fossil fuels, but to put up huge amounts of money to help poorer countries adapt to climatic changes that have already become inevitable. Western governments, which in some cases are already starting to consider their own adaptations to climate change, agree in principle that they should help poor countries. But they have committed relatively small sums, and they are wary of letting fast-growing countries like China off the hook on emissions.

Analysts say the likeliest outcome of the Warsaw negotiations is a weak pact that essentially urges countries to do what they can to cut emissions.


I suppose Wente's screed on climate change having nothing to do with Haiyan is best viewed as comic relief.


Wente has long been a climate change denier as her 2010 and 2013 articles show. Her 2010 article stated:

In 2007, the most comprehensive report to date on global warming, issued by the respected United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, made a shocking claim: The Himalayan glaciers could melt away as soon as 2035. ...

But the claim was rubbish, and the world's top glaciologists knew it. It was based not on rigorously peer-reviewed science but on an anecdotal report by the WWF itself.


However , a major 2012 study shows that the glaciers are melting at an even faster rate, primarily due to global warming, which are not only raising temperatures, but also changing precipitation patterns. 

 The scientists studied 30 years of data from the field, and satellite and weather records to examine the retreat of 82 glaciers, the area reduction of 7,090 glaciers, and mass-balance change - the difference between the accumulation and loss of ice of 15 glaciers in the seven larger regions of the Himalayas, the Tibetan Plateau and the Pamir Mountains. ...

"Potential consequences of glacier changes would be unsustainable water supplies from major rivers, and geohazards (glacier-lake expansion, glacier-lake outbursts and flooding), which might threaten the livelihoods and wellbeing of those in the downstream regions," the study warned. 

A sustained glacier retreat would increase the volume of water in rivers and also sediments, which could choke water supply, affecting agriculture.


Nevertheless, Wente, like the rest of the climate change deniers, continues to never let reality get in the way of her bias, as in her September 2013 article.

 A funny thing happened since that blockbuster UN report in 2007 called for urgent action on global warming. The world stopped warming up.

This fact is a monumental PR headache for the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which is set to issue the first part of its next report on Friday. It’s hard to call for urgent action when nothing much is happening.


Despite the fact that there are now more than 9,200 articles published in accredited scientific jounrnals providing evidence that climate change does exist and there is not one article published in an accredited scientific journal coming to the opposite conclusion, Wente wrote in September 2013

This fact is a monumental PR headache for the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which is set to issue the first part of its next report on Friday. It’s hard to call for urgent action when nothing much is happening.


The graph in post #11 shows that the number of weather related catastrophes has been increasing steadily for at least the last 40 years despite Wente's claim that "nothing much is happening".

Furthermore, the IPCC has concluded that a great deal is happening when it comes to climate change. The IPCC consists of the UN member government and writes its report on a consensus basis, which means that its September 2013 report is based on a lowest common denominator agreement amongst member states. The summary of its conclusions below, despite the limitations created by its need to achieve a consensus before issuing a report, are the direct opposite of Wente's and other climate change deniers. 

 — Global warming is "unequivocal," and since the 1950's it's "extremely likely" that human activities have been the dominant cause of the temperature rise.

— Concentrations of CO2 and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have increased to levels that are unprecedented in at least 800,000 years. The burning of fossil fuels is the main reason behind a 40 per cent increase in C02 concentrations since the industrial revolution.

— Global temperatures are likely to rise by 0.3 to 4.8 degrees C, or 0.5-8.6 F, by the end of the century depending on how much governments control carbon emissions.

— Most aspects of climate change will continue for many centuries even if CO2 emissions are stopped.

— Sea levels are expected to rise a further 10-32 inches (26-82 centimetres) by the end of the century.

— The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets have been losing mass over the past two decades. Glaciers have continued to melt almost all over the world. Arctic sea ice has shrunk and spring snow cover has continued to decrease, and it is "very likely" that this will continue.

— It's "virtually certain" that the upper ocean has warmed from 1971 to 2010. The ocean will continue to warm this century, with heat penetrating from the surface to the deep ocean.

So a little detail like Supertyphoon Haiyan will do nothing to change her or other denier's minds.





The UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Report can be found at


2013 is almost certainly going to be one of the ten warmest years since weather records have been kept, with all of the top ten warmest years occurring since 1998. Carbon dioxide atmospheric levels have also reached unprecedented levels during human history this year further increasing the risks associated with global warming. 

General Circulation Models generated from mathematical equations are based on enormous amounts of data in the largest computers in the world. These models predict that as carbon dioxide levels rise, the resulting greenhouse effects not only generate higher land and water temperatues, more intense storms with higher wind speeds, as seen in Supertyphoon Haiyan, and changes in precipitation levels leading to nore droughts in dry areas and more precipitation in wet areas. The only problem with these predictions is that they have been too conservative. For example, the models initially predicted that the Arctic Ocean would be ice-free in the summer in 2100, then 2050. Now we are looking at ice-free Arctic Ocean summers as early as 2015. Yet Harper and the other deniers continue on the same path of more and more production of fossil fuels. 


This year is likely to be among the top 10 warmest on record, according to the World Meteorological Organization.

It continues a pattern of high temperatures blamed directly on man-made climate change.

The president of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim, told BBC News that warming could no longer be ignored.

He urged action to reduce emissions to minimise the likelihood of disasters like Typhoon Haiyan, which has claimed thousands of lives in the Philippines.

The WMO's head, Michel Jarraud, echoed his call: “The Philippines is reeling from Typhoon Haiyan... and is still struggling to recover from a typhoon one year ago.

"Although individual tropical cyclones cannot be directly attributed to climate change, higher sea levels are already making coastal populations more vulnerable to storm surges."

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says the jury is out on whether the frequency of tropical cyclones will increase, but Michel Jarraud said it was expected that the impact of storms would be more intense.

Of the broad pattern, he said: “All of the warmest years have been since 1998, and this year once again continues the underlying, long-term trend. The coldest years now are warmer than the hottest years before 1998.

"Atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases reached new highs in 2012, and we expect them to reach unprecedented levels yet again in 2013. This means that we are committed to a warmer future.

"Surface temperatures are only part of the wider picture of our changing climate. The impact on our water cycle is already becoming apparent - as manifested by droughts, floods and extreme precipitation."



Filipino delegate to the 2013 Warsaw convention on climate change, Naderev "Yeb" Saño, is entering his fifth day of fasting protesting the lack of progress in dealing with the issue. Below is an interview with National Geographic on why he is fasting. 


While hunger gripped thousands in the storm-strewn ruins of his home city of Tacloban, Naderev "Yeb" Saño tweeted that he felt "stronger than ever" on the fourth day of his fast.

Here at international climate talks that were widely expected to result in little movement, if any, toward a binding treaty to curb greenhouse gas emissions, the lead negotiator for the Philippines is prodding his fellow delegates with a personal hunger strike, setting himself up as a living reminder that lives are at stake. ,,,

What made you decide to fast at the climate talks?

I thought of this over and over again, and I decided to do voluntary fasting in solidarity with the Filipino people, my brother (who was briefly out of communication, but survived the storm), and some of my relatives who are still unaccounted for. Millions of people are now suffering . . . hungry, [with] no clean water to drink and no more homes or properties to go back to. [Everywhere] is loss.

This is the only way I can think of so we could pressure countries to come up with an urgent solution and action on climate change. We should not take for granted this opportunity in Warsaw. The devastation in the Philippines should serve as a wake-up call on the reality of climate change. Many poorer countries will suffer in the future should we fail to act. Now is the time to act.

What are you calling for the conferees to do?

The appeal is simple. We have to stop this madness. We must take drastic action now to ensure that we prevent a future where super typhoons are a way of life... We refuse to accept that running away from storms, evacuating our families, suffering the devastation and misery, having to count our dead become a way of life.

I have no illusion that a tragedy like what the Philippines is going through could spur immediate action in this process. However, I am still hopeful that progress can be done here.

The 19th [session of the ] Conference of Parties at the climate talks must deliver on enhancing ambition and should muster the political will to address climate change. Developed countries must show that they are fulfilling their commitments to fulfill the objective of the climate convention in order to avert disasters in the future.

Explain your decision to declare so decisively the link between Super Typhoon Haiyan and climate change.

The recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report on climate change underscored the risks associated with changes in the patterns as well as frequency of extreme weather events. 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. This will have profound implications on many of our communities, especially [those that] struggle against the twin challenges of the development crisis and the climate change crisis. Typhoons such as Haiyan and its impacts represent a sobering reminder to the international community that we cannot afford to procrastinate on climate action.

Climate change has resulted in a shift in the way the Philippine climate behaves. Official studies indicate that the typhoon belt has moved southward. The trend is that most typhoons are now crossing [the] central Philippines [southern Luzon-Bicol, the Visayan Islands, and northern Mindanao]. This means that northern Mindanao will have more typhoons than in the past. Climate change also has very wide-ranging unpredictable impacts, including anomalies in rainfall. Climate change is also manifested through increased warming of the sea surface and so it is also worthwhile to note that tropical storms would not usually brew if the sea surface temperatures (SSTs) are below 27 degrees Celsius (80.6° F). But if SSTs are above 27 degrees Celsius, you got a brewery of typhoons, and more intense ones at that. So with climate change, the new normal is one that means what used to be will no longer be.

Detail the key issues that need to be addressed in Warsaw.

Countries need to decide on the establishment of the "loss and damage" mechanism, in its full ideal, meaning a provision on compensation of climate change losses and damages.

We must agree to strengthen the climate regime, which means that all countries must take climate action according to [their] fair share and in accordance with common but differentiated responsibilities. [We must bear] in mind that the science as shown in the latest IPCC report demands developed countries . . .  fulfill their targets, take deep emissions cuts, and be serious in providing finance and technology transfer to developing countries. [This is] so that the latter can contribute to the pursuing the emergency climate pathway that will allow us to pursue our right to development and at the same time saving the planet.




The small island countries (including Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, Palau, Kiribati, Seychelles and Maldives) of the Indian, Pacific, Caribbean and Mediterranean, feel especially vulnerable because as sea levels rise, they are in danger of losing much of their land base and some are increasingly likely to totally disappear. They have formed the 44 member Association of Small Island States in an attempt to get big carbon emitters, including not only the developed nations of North America and Europe, but the  emerging economic powers, such as India, China and Brazil, to begin reducing emissions before 2020.

For example, Kiribati has already seen three of its uninhabited atolls disappear under the waves by 1999 and is negotiating the purchase of 5,000 acres in Fiji to resettle its entire population of 102,000. The Maldive Islands are making plans to move their entire 350,000 population to Australia or India before the islands disappear.

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 Kiribati's President Anote Tong is in talks to buy 23 sq km (9 sq miles) on Fiji's Vanua Levu island. The land is wanted for crops, to settle some Kiribati farmers and to extract earth for sea defences, reports say. Some of Kiribati's 32 coral atolls, which straddle the equator, are already disappearing beneath the ocean. None of the atolls rises more than a few metres above the sea level.


 Climate change may continue to seem like a semi-ambiguous, far-off phenomenon to many Americans, even despite the extreme weather than wracked the nation last year. But to millions of people around the world, those on the front lines of global warming, I assure you: it is a real and imminent threat.

Take the Maldives, for example. The small island nation may be the first country in the world to be entirely swallowed up by rising sea levels caused by climate change. Those rising sea levels are already endangering the nation's cherished beaches, and will before too long render many parts of the country inhospitable. 

The country has established a sovereign wealth fund, drawn from its tourist revenue, to be used to buy land overseas and finance the relocation of the country's population of 350,000.



Supertyphoon Haiyan, which caused so much damage in the Philippines, is increasing the level of political tension at the 2013 Warsaw convention on climate change. At the convention, 130 developing and recently industrialized nations are pushing for reparations with even greater forcefulness after seeing the extreme level of damage and loss of life created by the world-record winds of Supertyphoon Haiyan.  They argue that because from the developed countries of North America and Europe have contributed 200 years worth of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere since the start of the Industrial Revolution, they need to pay the lion's share of the mitigation costs. 

The EU, Canada, and the US are strongly resisting these demands and have failed to deliver on their 2009 promise to provide $100 billion annually for climate change mitigation in developing countries by 2020. 



The push reflects alarm about the havoc wreaked by the typhoon’s 195 mile-per-hour winds and anger that rich nations seem to be scaling back their ambitions for reducing greenhouse gases. For the first time since the UN started its annual climate talks in 1992, countries such as Japan, Australia and Canada are paring back measures to mitigate fossil-fuel emissions.

For developing countries, the push for compensation is a result of the failure of their wealthy counterparts to cut emissions quickly enough. Loss and damage is an essential piece in the talks involving about 190 nations, which are working on a treaty limiting emission in all nations that could be adopted in 2015 and brought into force in 2020. ,,,

The issue was too thorny for lower-level delegates at the talks to resolve last week. They punted the issue to ministers and other high-ranking officials who arrive this week to grapple with the tougher political decisions. They include U.S. Special Envoy for Climate Change Todd Stern, EU Climate Change Commissioner Connie Hedegaard, Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, and his counterpart from the Pacific island nation of Nauru, Baron Divavesi Waqa. ...

Developing countries say the need for loss and damage is the result of not cutting emissions fast enough and the failure of donors to provide sufficient aid for poor nations to adapt their infrastructure.

Those concerns gained ground last week when Japan watered down its plan to cut fossil-fuel emissions, citing damage the earthquake and tsunami in 2011 did to its nuclear power program. In December 2012, Canada said it wouldn’t sign up to a new round of greenhouse gas cuts under the Kyoto Protocol. And Australia last week introduced legislation to abolish carbon pricing, the centerpiece of its effort to reduce emissions.

“This is the atmosphere in which we are negotiating,” Indian envoy T.S. Tirumurti told delegates two days ago. He called this year’s conference, the 19th, “historic” because it’ll be the first time ambition to cut emissions is lower at the end of the two weeks than at the beginning.

Developing nations are looking for other avenues where they can assign blame for global warming. Last week, China and a group of 130 nations known as the G77 backed a Brazilian proposal to examine historical emissions since 1850. The results would be one basis for working out future emissions reductions, a plan also rejected by the U.S. and EU.

Also being discussed is how industrialized nations will deliver on a promise they made in 2009 to boost annual climate- related aid to $100 billion in 2020 from $10 billion a year for the period from 2010 to 2012. ...

Island nations fear that rising sea-levels could swallow up their territory, leading to losses that should be compensated. Those including loss of sovereignty, culture and the need to migrate, said Malia Talakai, who negotiates for the 44-country Alliance of Small Island States. “This is for what we cannot adapt to,” she said. The mechanism should help coordinate research into slow- onset changes such as sea level rise, melting glaciers and ocean acidification, according to Juan Hoffmaister, a Bolivian envoy who negotiates for the G77 and China. multiple approaches.[quote]


Sleepwalking To Extinction  -  by Richard Smith

"...Today, we aare very much living in one of those pivotal world changing moments in history. Indeed, it is no exaggeration to say that this is the most critical moment in human history.

The question is: will humanity stand by and let the world be destroyed by the profit system?"


At the 2011 United Nations conference on climate change, the United States and China argued back and forth for almost one hour about who was responsible for global warming. The United States argued that since China has now surpassed the US as the world's number one carbon dioxide emitter, it had to take a major role in reducing emissions. China argued that because the US had been a major emitter for more than a century in order to improve its wealth, it must bear the vast majority of the costs.

The President of the Maldive Islands then got up and said their argument was pointless because with this attitude his island nation would soon no longer exist. 


With the election of Tony Abbott as Prime Minister of Australia in September of this year, Harper has quickly found an ally on global warming. Abbott has quickly scrapped Australia's carbon tax. In response, Harper publicly congratulated him. Both Canada and Australia ranked #1 and #2 in environmentalists' lists in attempts to block progress at the UN's conference on climate change in Warsaw that just concluded. Harper, unlike other governments and previous Canadian governments, has not allowed MPs from other parties to be representatives to the UN climate change conferences.

 When the new Australian Prime Minister moved to scrap that country's carbon tax last week, he received a public statement of congratulations from Stephen Harper's parliamentary secretary.

Just days later, at the Commonwealth meetings in Sri Lanka, an initiative to help fund smaller countries combat climate change gained unanimous support, with the exception of.... Canada and Australia.

And at the UN Climate Change talks wrapping up today in Warsaw, Poland, observers' lists of "countries behaving badly" are consistently topped by Canada and Australia.


CBC's The Current's podcast below discusses the role of these global warming deniers on the world stage in much more detail.



Shielding A Flickering Flame  -  by Chris Hedges

"With the folly of the human race - and perhaps its unconscious lust for self-annihilation - on display at the UN Climate Talks in Warsaw, it is easy to succumb to despair.

The world's elite, it is painfully clear, will do little to halt the accellerating destruction of the ecosystem and eventually the human species.

We have, through our ingenuity and hubris unleashed the next great mass extinction on the planet..."


Naming Names: The 90 Companies Destroying Our Planet

"Which companies caused global warming?"


Hurricane Laura Makes Landfall in Louisiana as a Category 4 Storm

"The National Weather Service warned people in the area to 'take action now to protect your life..."


National Hurricane Center

"Eyewall of Laura pushing inland across southern Louisiana. Catastrophic storm surge, extreme winds and flash flooding ongoing. More on Laura at


The Weather Channel

"The NHC has forecast 'unsurvivable storm surge' from Hurricane Laura in parts of Louisiana and Texas. Do NOT underestimate this storm...


#Laura -

"As Laura crashes into the Gulf and California burns, the climate crisis has never seemed more obvious. 'It's not coming, it's here. The luxury of moving slowly, the margin for zigging and zagging to accommodate various interests, has disappeared."


Already a teenager has been killed as a tree fell on her family's home. This makes me suspect that it was a very poorly-built shelter, as is often the case in rural Louisiana...

My edit: first report said him, but the teenager killed was a 14-year-old girl.