How to comment on such a tragedy? First and foremost, our thoughts, condolences, prayers are with the victims.
This disaster, once again (like Katrina, Sandy, the droughts, floods, and wildfires), brings stark clarity to the idea that climate change is a challenge of morality and justice.
We know the frequency and intensity of storms will continue to increase, driven by global warming and the climate change that results. And increasingly, people are starting to believe what scientists have been saying for years, now that we're seeing and experiencing the patterns first hand; prompting the question if this will be a "turning point in how the West thinks about climate change."
For years, we in the sustainability field have been saying, "there's still time to act, if we act now." And in a sense that's still true. But in another, very real sense, it's already too late.
It's true in that the faster we reduce and eliminate our net contributions to GHGs in the atmosphere, the better chance we have of minimizing the damage. It's too late in the sense, that we're clearly feeling the damage, in obvious and subtle ways. We'll keep feeling these changes for decades -- even if we stopped GHG pollution on a dime today, what we've already emitted cumulatively will continue to have an impact for decades. So we'll need to continue to adapt and prepare for changes to come.
But we can't give up on the necessary goal of eliminating net GHG emissions. The annual international climate negotiations -- COP19 -- are happening in Warsaw Poland right now. The lead negotiator from the Philippines, Yeb Sano, announced in a powerful video (below) that he will voluntarily fast until meaningful pledges are made.
You can take a small, simple action now to help support his effort by signing Yeb Sano's petition to Stand with the Philippines and demand significant progress in Warsaw.