As relief efforts begin to arrive to the Philippines following the record-breaking Typhoon Haiyan, the nation’s lead negotiator at the UN climate talks is on a hunger strike to raise awareness of the plight his and other nations face due to climate disasters. Negotiator Yeb Sano began a voluntary hunger strike at Monday’s opening session of the international climate negotiations in Poland. He dared negotiators to “get off your ivory tower and away from the comfort of your armchair” to see first hand the life-and-death consequences of climate change facing people around the world. The Red Cross is suggesting the death toll from Haiyan could approach 10,000. Meteorologists report that Typhoon Haiyan is the world’s strongest storm to ever make landfall since records began. Prof. Stefan Rahmstorf, a leading climate scientist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, points to climate change as the aggravating factor that has likely increased the destructive forces of Typhoon Haiyan, including extreme rainfall and heightened storm surges.

  • Climate negotiator Yeb Sano’s hunger strike, in the wake of untold devastation, is a call for world leaders stop talking about climate and do something about it.When Sano told negotiators to, “get off your ivory tower and away from the comfort of your armchair,” he echoed comments made in 2012 when he said “we cannot go on like this.” Sadly, both of Sano’s comments followed devastating Typhoons. Sano’s latest call for action not only follows another devastating Typhoon, but another major IPCC report that shows climate change is a clearer and more present danger than ever.
  • Climate change fueled Typhoon Haiyan and will continue to fuel similar storms in the future. Sea surface temperatures that were 2ºC above normal in the regionstrengthened Typhoon Haiyan by increasing the available energy and water vapor in the area. This problem isn’t going away as sea surface temperatures have beensteadily increasing around the world, and are projected to keep to rising. Additionally, climate change has already contributed about eight inches to global sea level which increases the destructive power of storm surges.
  • Tragedies like Typhoon Haiyan have increased in the past three decades and will continue if no action to address climate change is takenAccording to the Potsdam Institute’s Stefan  Rahmstorf, “global warming aggravates the impacts of storms like Haiyan: extreme rainfall that comes along with tropical storms causes floods and landslides, because evaporation rates and moisture content of the air increase in a warmer climate. Furthermore, there are storm surges at the coast, because the sea level rises due to global warming.”