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Thursday Morning Linkage – Special Typhoon Haiyan Edition

November 14, 2013

This week, more news from the relief effort and typhoon Haiyan and how the events in the Philippines threaten to overshadow the on-going climate negotiations in Warsaw.

The Security and Relief Situation on the Ground

  • U.S. military ramps up aid to Philippines with up to 1,000 soldiers likely on the ground from Okinawa in short order, ferrying Filipino troops and aid supplies
    • Plenty of gasoline but gas stations won’t open for fear of looting; mayor, a relative of Imelda Marcos, urges residents to flee, tells foreign aid workers “Please be self-sufficient, because there’s nothing”
  • Tacloban so bad that some prisoners who were freed from jail during the storm turning themselves in to get food and water
    • Fears of nearby guerillas coming to the area
  • Mob ransacked food storage in Tacloban, rice bags collapsed killing eight looters, nearby Ormoc peaceful
    • 1,000 Filipino troops deployed to the Tacloban area to restore order, curfew

Wider Geostrategic Issues

  • David Bosco notes that China stingy in its foreign assistance, offers $100,000, possibly related to maritime disputes with Philippines
    • UN releases $25 million and US pledges $20 million
  • The Philippines had already been reassessing its earlier decision to boot U.S. bases in light of friction with China; U.S. bases in Asia even more valuable come disaster time

Right and Wrong Ways to Help

    • Vijaya Ramanchandran implores that the United States not help the Philippines like the it helped Haiti, where funds went unspent, are not transparently accounted for to Beltway bandits, and the necessary infrastructure in Port-au-Prince including adequate roads, electricity, or running water
    • Capitol Weather Gang argues: Need for better information and modeling to prevent tragedies like this one 

The typhoon and climate change?

  • Expectations that climate change will yield more intense storms but not a lot of scientific information on storms in the Pacific

The effect of climate change on storms in the Pacific is especially difficult to study, scientists said, because no governments fly research planes into storms there to gather data

  • Statements by scientists suggestive but evidence not there yet. IPCC 5th Assessment:

Time series of cyclone indices such as power dissipation, an aggregate compound of tropical cyclone frequency, duration, and intensity that measures total wind energy by tropical cyclones, show upward trends in the North Atlantic and weaker upward trends in the western North Pacific since the late 1970s, but interpretation of longer-term trends is again constrained by data quality concerns.””

The Climate Negotiations in Poland

  • Tearful Filipino diplomat urges action, vows hunger strike
  • Storm casts a big shadow on negotiations
  • Loss and damage agenda proponents seeking remuneration for climate harm get a leg up with typhoon

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Joshua Busby is an Associate Professor in the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas-Austin. He is the author of Moral Movements and Foreign Policy (Cambridge, 2010) and the co-author, with Ethan Kapstein, of AIDS Drugs for All: Social Movements and Market Transformations (Cambridge, 2013). His main research interests include transnational advocacy and social movements, international security and climate change, global public health and HIV/ AIDS, energy and environmental policy, and U.S. foreign policy. He also tends to blog about global wildlife conservation.