This guest post was written by guest blogger Spencer Johnson & cross-posted from 350 MA’s Climate Beat.


On November 8th, 2013 SuperTyphoon Haiyan, (known locally as Yolanda) struck the Philippines. According to NASA this was perhaps the most powerful tropical cyclone ever to make landfall. The width of Haiyan, as it made swept menacingly across the country, was 370 miles. It ripped through over 494,000 houses and 628 schools, killing approximately 4,000 people,  though the exact death toll might never be known. 12,500 people were injured and 1,600 are still missing. 13 million have been affected by this storm, 4.9 million of whom are children. 3 million people have been displaced and 2.5 million are in need of food assistance. The storm surge in Tacloban, the “biggest city in the hardest-hit central of the Philippines” was 17 feet high.

The ferocity of this storm was no accident. Michael Mann, a meteorologist from Penn State points out that “models suggest more frequent and intense storms in a warmed world” and that “readings of ocean heat” suggest Haiyan was an “unnaturally powerful” storm. He goes further to say the deep and warm water that provided Haiyan’s initial “fuel” is “unlikely to have existed in a world without warming.”

We saw Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and SuperStorm Sandy in 2011 and now we can add Haiyan to the list of SuperVillainous storms that flourish in a world of climate change, costing billions of dollars in damages and, more importantly, costing the lives of our brothers and sisters worldwide. Many of those affected by climate change have no choice, but to watch the terror ensue. They have to sit idly-by and watch as our industrial addiction to fossil fuels degrades their lands and decimates their populations. Corporations are taming government leaders with donations, silencing our citizens with death threats (warning: explicit content), ignoring safety regulations, censoring government studies, and destroying the environment on which we rely to survive.

And now, when the time has come to talk about it (or more like the 19th time has come to talk about it), our leaders continue to refuse to take immediate and decisive action on climate change. In response, last Monday, Naderev Yeb Saño the Philippines’ Lead Negotiator, declared in a speech that personally brought tears to my eyes, that he would eat no food throughout the course of the conference’s 12 days or until appropriate action was taken to address the global climate change crisis. Since then, a petition has been signed by over 605,000 citizens around the world who stand in solidarity with Saño and the Philippines, in addition to all those suffering worldwide as a result of catastrophic climate change.

In fact, this Monday, a week after Saño started his fast, college students from all over the world signed on to join him for a day, a couple days, or (like myself) for the whole week. The “Stop The Madness” Facebook Event has over 1,100 participants after only two days and the numbers are continuing to grow. I’ve personally been fasting for over 49 hours, drinking only a lemon/syrup/cayenne tincture, water, tea, and coffee. Many are fasting differently, but I’ve found this concoction to be most helpful (I was told to switch to grapefruit, though, so I may try that next).

In addition to fasting, many schools are planning candlelight vigils for the victims of Haiyan and others are creating memes, changing their Facebook profile pictures to red dots, and holding demonstrations in their school dining halls with posters and empty plates with things like: #WeStandWithYou, #ActOnClimate, #StopTheMadness and Solidarity With Saño on them. The amount of press this movement is attaining is something akin to an appearance by Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie and it’s spreading like a viral YouTube video.

In all seriousness, though, this is the kind of movement we need to see. A movement where people of all ages, all professions, all socioeconomic backgrounds, all ethnicities, stand together in solidarity with those who are being impacted by our rapidly changing climate; a movement where media pays attention to cries of help, the chants of activists pleading to their political leaders, and focuses on the imperative problems at hand instead of merely sweeping them under a sofa of political corruption and pollution.

This movement is growing and growing fast. And as I grow hungrier and the time ticks and my stomach growls and the possum outside nibbles at my compost I have hope, I have faith, and most of all, in solidarity with Yeb Saño and the Philippines, I, we, have strength.

Onwards & Peace,

Spencer H. Johnson

The post We are Fasting for the Climate in Solidarity with the Philippines appeared first on Fossil Free.

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