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[OPINION] Super Typhoon Yolanda is a man-made disaster

 

Every November 8, we commemorate the devastation wrought by Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), one of the strongest tropical cyclones ever recorded.

Six years have passed since Yolanda made landfall in Eastern Visayas and left a trail of desolation in its path, yet the wounds of the past remain.

All that transpired on that day stays engraved in the hearts and minds of the survivors – including the unscrupulous corruption of public officials that impedes the full recovery of the city until this very day. The government’s criminal neglect is the biggest disaster to hit ground zero.

As a Yolanda survivor, I find myself standing at the witness stand inside the halls of justice – demanding accountability from the culprit who caused the lifelong suffering not just of Taclobanons, but of entire humanity.

While it is imperative to remain steadfast in holding government officials accountable for their criminal neglect, it is equally important to demand justice from those who brought about the climate emergency the entire world is facing today.

Man-made disaster

Bold claim as it may be, I posit that Super Typhoon Yolanda is a disaster created by man. No, I am not referring to the video that has gone viral which claims "microwave impulses" created Yolanda. Such claim has been refuted years ago. Rather, the argument centers on the possible link between Yolanda and man-made climate change.

In recent decades, we have been inadvertently modifying our weather and climate system. Ever since the industrial revolution, the consumption of man has grown exponentially to the detriment of nature, leading to massive greenhouse gas emissions and global warming. A warming world leads to warmer oceans, which provide perfect conditions to create extreme weather events.

Indeed, our generation is witness to unprecedented weather phenomena – from Yolanda to the melting of the Artic sea ice and to heat waves in the United States, Russia and Australia, to name a few.

These extreme weather events have empirical links to man-made climate change.

Environmental plunder

To fix the man-made climate crisis, we must identify the names of those accountable for destroying the planet. The search inevitably leads to a single culprit: monopoly capitalists engaged in global plunder of the environment in third world countries.

This plunder began during the colonial expansion era, when the practice of invading civilizations was to subjugate territories in order to acquire commodities, wealth, and power. Nations sought expansion by appropriating territories. Once successful, they hauled raw materials and natural resources like there was no tomorrow.

Mankind witnessed the narrative of global environmental plunder. Vast mines desecrated the mountains and rivers. Forests were burned down to make way for plantations, roads and railways. Agricultural lands were ravaged due to destructive agrarian practices, as staples were replaced with cash crops. When met with resistance, colonization led to war, which invariably has a huge environmental impact as well. 

From territory to territory, life was swept away and nature was massacred on the altar of lucre.

To humanity’s dismay, this global plunder of the environment persists until this very day.

Monopoly capitalists from countries such as the United States, United Kingdom, Japan, Russia and China continue to desecrate third-world countries by extracting colossal amount of raw materials to sustain their continuously expanding production.

The greed of man is passed on from generation to generation of capitalists, the result thereof is the destruction of the environment and the future of humanity.

Climate emergency

The world is facing a climate emergency.

Recently, a stark warning was sent out by more than 11,000 scientists that the world will face “untold suffering due to the climate emergency” unless there are major transformations to global society.

Our country has no escape from said “untold suffering,” as a recent study by the Climate Central reveals that several areas in the Philippines might be submerged in water by 2050 due to unprecedented rise of sea level.

Equally alarming is the willingness of the current regime to collaborate with transnational corporations (TNCs) to desecrate the environment in the facade of development.

Recently, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources issued an Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) to the China-funded Kaliwa Dam project in Quezon, an illegal and immoral act that violates the right to a sound environment of the Filipino people.

To add insult to injury, the Philippines ranked as the deadliest country for environmental and land defenders in 2018, which is very telling of whose side the Philippine government is on.

When everyone else fails to do their job, the youth must take over. It is now in our hands – in the likes of Bebang, a 16-year old Lumad environmental-activist, and Greta Thunberg to take bold steps in fighting for climate justice. The youth all over the world are now at the forefront in the fight for climate justice. (READ: The youth behind coal-free Negros Occidental)

The monstrous storm that took thousands of lives is a result of environmental plunder. The culprits may think that they are getting away with it. But we, the youth, will prove them wrong. – Rappler.com

Melo Mar Cabello is a former student of Eastern Visayas State University. Weeks after Super Typhoon Yolanda ravaged Tacloban City, he transferred to Bagbaguin National High School, and later to the University of the East-Caloocan. He is currently a BA Political Science sophomore at the University of the Philippines Diliman.