Rhein on Energy and Climate

On November 8th 2013 the eastern Philippines have been struck by another typhoon this year. With wind speeds exceeding 300 km/h, a 200 000 people city flattened to the ground and an estimated number of more than 10 000 people killed it has been one of the most violent typhoons ever registered on our planet.

Typhoons or hurricanes, which have the same causes, have taken place throughout human history. In the 11th century Ireland and Britain have been struck by them; in North American they have occurred the 16th and 17th century. Thus there is no apparent reason to associate them with, let alone attribute them to climate change.

Still,a scientific link between climate change and the severity of typhoons exists beyond any doubt.

Typhoons originate from the evaporation of huge volumes ocean water. The warmer the ocean the more powerful the typhoons. Typhoons have become increasingly more violent as ocean temperatures have risen during the last 100 years, due to climate change. And ocean temperatures are projected to keep rising, however slowly.

Several hundred million people living on the Pacific and Atlantic oceans near the equator will therefore be exposed to increasingly powerful typhoons or hurricanes: one more reason to tackle climate change much more resolutely.

Unfortunately, the odds for a courageous outcome of the Warsaw Climate Conference do not look any better than those of its 18 predecessors. The complete destruction of a small city of 200 000 residents on the Philippines is far away from the coal-heated (!) conference rooms in Warsaw! It is not enough for 20 000 (!) delegates to pay tribute to the victims by a minute of silence. They owe concrete and urgent commitments to lower C02 emissions.

Brussels 12.11. 2013 Eberhard Rhein


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