Analysis: Is climate change causing disasters like Typhoon Haiyan?

Downed power lines and debris block the road in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan on November 10, 2013 in Tacloban, Leyte, Philippines. Typhoon Haiyan, packing maximum sustained winds of 195 mph (315 kph), slammed into the southern Philippines and left a trail of destruction in multiple provinces, forcing hundreds of thousands to evacuate and making travel by air and land to hard-hit provinces difficult. Around 10,000 people are feared dead in the strongest typhoon to hit the Philippines this year. Credit: Getty Images
Downed power lines and debris block the road in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan on Nov. 10 in Tacloban, Leyte, Philippines. Credit: Getty Images

As yet another natural disaster claims thousands of lives, people are asking whether we’re facing the consequences of climate change.

Not yet, says Johan Kuylenstierna, a leading climate change expert and executive director of the Stockholm Environment Institute: The big impact of climate change is yet to come.

Metro: Are natural disasters like the typhoon in the Philippines increasing in number, and becoming more devastating, because of climate change?

Kuylenstierna: Right now there’s no direct correlation between climate change and the frequency of natural disasters like Typhoon Haiyan. However, if we look at predictions, it’s clear that disasters of this kind will increase, and a warmer climate gives more intensity to storms.

What’s important to remember, though, is that the impact depends on things like infrastructure and population size. In the Philippines many people live in inadequate housing in low-lying areas, so they’re more exposed to disasters. And due to population growth, many more people were affected by this typhoon than would have been the case 50 years ago. Half a century ago, the death toll would have been lower.

Should people living in industrialized countries be worried, too?

Yes. If sea levels rise by 10 or 50 centimeters, natural disasters will have a huge impact, since so many cities are located in coastal areas. But cities in the industrialized world are much better equipped to handle storms. The financial cost of Superstorm Sandy was as much, or even more, than the typhoon in the Philippines, but the cost in human lives was much smaller. The upside of preparing for climate change and more natural disasters is that we’ll get infrastructure that’s more robust, whether or not we’re hit by a storm.


Two young children killed in deadly Queens fire

Two 4-year-old children died after a blaze at their Far Rockaway home on Saturday night. The Queens fire injured three others, including a third sibling.


Florida man charged with murdering son to play…

A Florida man annoyed that his 16-month-old crying son was preventing him from playing video games suffocated the toddler, police said on Friday.


Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.


OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…


Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."


'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…


Deron Williams leads Nets over Raptors in Game…

The Nets traveled to a raucous Air Canada Centre but came out with an important Game 1 victory over the Raptors.


Carmelo Anthony agonizing over Knicks future as season…

There’s still the cloud hanging over the franchise’s head as to the pending free-agent status of All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony.


Jets host players with eye toward NFL Draft

The Jets hosted a number of NFL Draft hopefuls for workouts on Thursday, with an eye toward some under-the-radar players.


Chris Johnson: I wanted to go to 'a…

Now that Chris Johnson is a Jet, the team has to figure out if one of the most explosive players in the NFL over the last half decade has anything…


How to parent without gender stereotypes in a…

Christia Spears Brown, Phd. author of "Parenting beyond Pink & Blue" gives advice on raising kids free of gender stereotypes.


VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.


#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.


Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.