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.


Easter Egg hunt horror as skydiver plummets to…

A FAMILY Easter egg hunt ended in horror when a skydiver plummeted to his death in a New York garden after his parachute failed to…


Boston Marathon 2014 on high alert, Red Sox…

One year on from the horrific Boston Marathon bombings a ring of steel has been thrown around today's race, and a city stands defiant against…


Boston Strong: One year on from Boston Marathon…

  For more than a century the Boston Marathon has been an even centred around sportsmanship, endurance and athleticism, but there's no denying the face…


Monday is the deadline to register for Pennsylvania…

If residents want to vote in the May primary, which includes a vote for a new City Council member, today is the deadline to register.


‘Mad Men’ recap: Season 7, Episode 2, ‘A…

Peggy and Lou are horrible, Bert's racist, Don is honest(ish) and Roger and Pete are frustrated. "A Day's Work" not quite worthy of "This Will Be Our Year."


'Game of Thrones' recap: Season 4, Episode 3,…

The problem with the devil you know is that ignoring them doesn’t mean they simply lie in wait. It allows them time to do things…


Discovery cancels 'Everest Jump Live' special in wake…

The Discovery Channel has indicated it will not be moving forward with "Everest Jump Live," a planned special about mountain climber Joby Ogwyn's effort to…

The Word

'X-Men' director Bryan Singer drama continues

  News broke late last week that "X-Men" and "The Usual Suspects" director Bryan Singer is being sued by a man who said Singer molested…


Ray Emery steps up in Flyers’ Game 2…

Sure, he allowed two goals in the Rangers’ first four shots Sunday afternoon, but it’s about how you start, not how you finish.


Flyers come from behind, even series with Rangers

The Flyers overcame a two-goal deficit to get a much-needed win at Madison Square Garden Sunday.


Phillies get set for four against the Dodgers

The Phillies will face tough starting pitching out west against the Dodgers this week.


Phillies notebook: Cole Hamels returns this week

The Phillies should receive a big boost when Cole Hamels returns during the Dodgers series.


Packing: The one thing you need in your…

A new survey that looks at the travel habits of 50,000 people around the world has revealed that Western and Asian globetrotters have different priorities…


Is your chair making it hard to talk?

Ever wished there was an office chair that could make impromptu meetings and discussions more private? The Cristiana Wing Chair is an asymmetrical armchair which…


Live large at these luxury hotels

From Thai boxing lessons and macabre Dracula tours to the Australian Outback, the Four Seasons hotel chain launched a series of new travel packages this…


4 things that every summer camp should have

Alan Saltz, director of the 92nd street Y program lists things that every summer camp should have.