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Climate Change Debate Rages on in Haiyan's Wake

By by Jillian MacMath, AccuWeather.com Staff Writer
November 16, 2013, 10:31:53 AM EST

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Just days after Haiyan made landfall in the Philippines, the 2013 UN Climate Change Conference kicked off in Warsaw, prompting a big message from Philippines delegate Yeb Sano.

At the opening of the two-week conference, Sano vowed to fast voluntarily until a "meaningful outcome" was in sight, in solidarity with those who do not have food in the wake of Haiyan.

@a_b_world tweeted: "WMO says Typhoon Haiyan is climate 'wake-up call' http://bbc.in/HMpfkq #environment #climate #cdnpoli #sustainability #co2 #eco #health"

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"What my country is going through as a result of this extreme climate event is madness," he said at the conference this week.

"Typhoons such as Haiyan and its impacts represent a sobering reminder to the international community that we cannot afford to procrastinate on climate action."

The country has been a center for natural disasters over the past year. Since June, the Philippines were in the direct path of typhoons Nari, Utor and Krosa, which moved over the northern island of Luzon.

The country was also rattled by a magnitude-7.1 earthquake in October, which killed more than 200 people, becoming the deadliest quake to strike the country in 23 years.

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Official: Super Typhoon Death Toll Could Reach 10,000

In the wake of the current devastation, Sano is not the first to attribute the impact of Haiyan with climate change.

Since the storm, the theory that climate change will intensify storms has again reared its head in the scientific and political community.

On Nov. 10, meteorologist and author of the controversial book 'The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars,' Michael Mann blogged that the denial of science can kill, referencing the super typhoon.

"This week’s typhoon that is now estimated to have killed 10,000 people in the Philippines might have occurred in the absence of climate change, although global warming likely put it on steroids," he wrote.

Meanwhile, climate change skeptics maintain that the argument is unfounded.

"Dealing with disasters such as Typhoon Haiyan requires a multi-faceted approach. Focusing on added atmospheric CO2 as the dominate threat with respect to intense typhoons is a grossly inadequate response," Meteorologist and Senior Research Scientist at the University of Colorado in Boulder, Roger A. Pielke Sr., told AccuWeather.com.

Despite the contention, Sano remains adamant that more intense tropical storms are coming.

"Science tells us that simply, climate change will mean more intense tropical storms. As the Earth warms up, that would include the oceans. The energy that is stored in the waters off the Philippines will increase the intensity of typhoons and the trend we now see is that more destructive storms will be the new norm," he said.

The UN climate talks will continue through Nov. 22, as more than 190 delegates continue the dialogue on climate change action and innovation.

Have questions, comments, or a story to share? Email Jillian MacMath at macmathj@accuweather.com, follow her on Twitter @Accu_Jillian or Google+. Follow us @breakingweather, or on Facebook and Google+.

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