In its latest update, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said 3,631 (initial estimates were 10,000) people were confirmed dead in the Philippines because of the Typhoon Haiyan. The number of injured stood at 12,487, while 1,187 people are officially listed as missing.
In all, the council said more than nine million people had been affected, including 1,871,321 who had been displaced. The UN put the number of dead at 4,460. Officials said it was likely more bodies would be found as aid teams reached outlying areas. Helicopters from a US aircraft carrier have been transporting supplies to the devastated town of Guiuan on the Pacific coast - the first to take the full force of the typhoon. However, the Philippine government says efforts to deliver aid are being hampered by a desperate shortage of trucks.
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.
According to the IPCC 2013 Report on Climate Change, changes in many extreme weather and climate events have been observed since about 1950. It is very likely that the number of cold days and nights has decreased and the number of warm days and nights has increased on the global scale. It is likely that the frequency of heat waves has increased in large parts of Europe, Asia and Australia. There are likely more land regions where the number of heavy precipitation events has increased than where it has decreased. The frequency or intensity of heavy precipitation eventshas likely increased in North America and Europe.
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. 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 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 countries trillions of dollars, which they do not have.
Time is running out. The more the delay in changing the economic and energy paradigm, the more will be the economic, humanitarian and social cost of climate change.
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