Climate change catastrophe has confronted hundreds of thousands of people of the eastern seaboard of the United States and on the Philippines island of Luzon, writes Phil Hearse, as Hurricane Florence and Typhoon Mangkhut made landfall simultaneously.
Tacloban, Leyte, Philippines, after Typhoon Haiyan in 2013. Photo: Tony Iltis. Millions of people fleeing storms that flood major cities within hours, or intense fires that burn towns to the ground — welcome to a climate change apocalypse. It is not a scene from science fiction film, but a fast approaching reality.
Kiribati, a nation made up of 33 islands in the South Pacific, is predicted to be one of the first countries to vanish beneath the sea before the end of the century. The government has already bought 2400 hectares of land in Fiji in case they need to more the entire population.
After the storm, the “shock doctrine”. This is what awaits the Philippines after the devastation wrought by Typhoon Haiyan. The familiar cycle of “disaster capitalism” allows wealthy and politically connected First World corporations to profit obscenely from the suffering of acutely vulnerable disaster-affected communities. Disaster profiteering is a parasitic tendency deeply embedded in the structures of the neoliberal global economy. It will degrade and corrupt the international “relief effort” under way in the Philippines.
The People's Caravan is a grassroots relief effort initiated by the Party of the Labouring Masses, a Filipino party of the marginalised and poor. It has been collecting goods and food and transporting relief directly to areas devastated by Typhoon Haiyan (known as Yolanda in the Philippines) -- while the Filipino government holds up aid and sends in soldiers to target "looters" (desperate people seeking food).
Catastrophic climate change due to greenhouse gas emissions from industry is not merely a future threat for humanity. It is happening now. When Super Typhoon Yolanda (known outside the Philippines by its Chinese name, Haiyan) slammed into the islands of Samar and Leyte in the Philippines’ Eastern Visayas region on November 8, and cut a path of destruction through the Visayas, it was the strongest storm ever recorded to hit the cyclone-prone Philippines. According to some scientists, it was strongest storm to ever hit land anywhere on Earth.
“We have two Filipino traits -- Bayanihan, solidarity, community spirit, and Bahala na, daring, grit & luck,” said Sonny Melencio, chairperson of the Party of the Labouring Masses (PLM). “These will guide our People’s Caravan.” The People’s Caravan initiative is organised by the PLM (a national political party of the marginalised), the transport workers' union PMT and the Support Tado campaign (a networkt to support TV personality Tado Jimenez for elections in Marikina).
The statement below was released by the Party of the Labouring Masses, a Filipino party of the marginalised and poor. You can donate to the grassroots relief efforts the PLM is part of organising. * * *
About 1000 people rallied on November 11 in front of the US Embassy in Manila to demand climate justice after the aftermath of Super Typhoon Yolanda (as Typhoon Haiyan is known in the Philippines). The demonstrators care from various sectors of Filipino society. Farmers, urban poor, women, workers, and youth marched from Bonifacio Shrine to the T.M. Kalaw demanding that the US immediately and radically cut its emissions and pay its climate debt -- to assist with the costs of adapting to climate change and for loss and damages caused.
Below is an open letter and petition to governments of the rich industrialised nations, initiated by the Philippines Movement for Climate Justice. The PMCJ is a broad movement consisting of 103 national networks and local groups representing many grassroots communities across the Philippines. Please add your name here. You can also donate to grassroots relief work via http://transform-asia.org/. * * *