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Climate change conversation necessary after typhoon


As the United Nations seeks more than $300 million in emergency relief funding from its member nations in the aftermath of one of the most devastating and tragic natural disasters in recent history, perhaps Typhoon Haiyan should lead the international community to start thinking proactively instead of retroactively.

While this particular disaster has not been directly linked with global warming or man-induced climate change, an article published in Nature magazine stated that the intensity of tropical storms increases with surface sea temperatures and it is likely that the rising sea levels made the death toll even greater in the Philippines, an area that has been hit with three devastating natural disasters in the past three years alone.

Though no monetary value can be placed on the more than 10,000 lives lost and the hundreds of thousands of victims that have been affected physically and emotionally, the U.N. has estimated $14 billion in damage has already been inflicted on a country that has seen its GDP decrease by 4 percent from each typhoon over the past six years, according to an article in the Atlantic.

Yet the same countries that are now looking to provide relief are some of the largest individual contributors to carbon-dioxide emissions, including the U.S., China and Russia.

During the last fiscal year, the U.S. spent $4 billion in international disaster-relief assistance alone, according to a Congressional report. In contrast, the government spends about $2.7 billion on climate-change research.

But as relief efforts continue, the chief contributors to climate change should not be let off the hook simply by writing off fat checks. Though the typhoon has left much devastation, its aftermath should be used as an opportunity for meaningful dialogue on climate change and global warming.

Divya Kumar is a senior majoring in mass communications and economics.