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The Connection Between Super Typhoon Rai and Climate Change

Last week, Super Typhoon Rai hit the Philippines. Learn the connection between typhoons and climate change—and how to help.

Written by
Angelica Pizza

Last week, Super Typhoon Rai, locally known as Odette, hit the Philippines. And it's one of the most powerful storms the country has endured. Lasting roughly three days, the typhoon's strength was equivalent to that of a Category 5 hurricane.

While citizens of the Philippines are no stranger to typhoons, Rai has claimed at least 375 lives and has left over 500 people injured. At least 56 people are still missing. Filipinos are suffering, with many residents left without food, water, and shelter. Rescue operations are still in place, and the Philippines need our help.

Typhoons and Climate Change

Typhoons are similar to hurricanes: Both are tropical cyclones. The main difference between the terms is the region they originate in.

Hurricanes form over the Atlantic Ocean or the eastern Pacific Ocean, while typhoons form in the Northwest Pacific. These storms can form when oceans reach extremely high temperatures and combine with other weather conditions, such as high winds, to create the tropical cyclones we experience.

As a result of climate change, typhoons and other natural disasters are getting stronger, causing more damage and casualties. Climate change occurs when natural weather patterns become more extreme, and this happens because global warming is heating the planet.

Global warming and climate change make weather unpredictable, which is why Super Typhoon Rai had such a major impact.

"Before, whenever we monitored typhoons, we’d know where they would hit, and we could focus and centralize our response resources to that area," Virginia Benosa-Llorin, senior climate justice campaigner for Greenpeace Southeast Asia-Philippines, told VICE World News. "But now, we find severe devastation, even in areas far from the eye of the typhoon. In terms of our response, it’s much harder because the area we need to cover has gotten much larger.”

But why is the Earth's temperature increasing? Greenhouse gases are getting trapped in the atmosphere as a result of both natural causes and human impact. From increased waste in landfills to increased burning of fossil fuels, carbon emissions are at an all-time high.

"We are in uncharted territory, and scientifically, we can’t predict what would happen if we stopped all the emissions now," said Gregg Yan, founder and director of the nonprofit Best Alternatives Campaign. "But as an environmentalist and advocate, I’m willing to bet everything I have—even the clothes on my back—that if we stop the emissions as soon as possible, or at least replace them with emissions from renewable sources, then the world will be a safer place for everyone."

How to Help Those Affected by Typhoons

1. Donate to Emergency Relief Funds

To help, you can donate to emergency relief funds in the Philippines. For example, the Philippine Red Cross is taking monetary donations that will go toward rescue equipment, sleeping kits, food, and other needed items.

2. Donate Clothes and Food

Many Filipinos impacted by the typhoon have been displaced and are in need of basic necessities like food, water, and clothes. Check to see if there are any organizations taking non-perishable or clothing donations.

3. Educate Yourself on the Climate Crisis

If you're not sure where to begin, do some research. While media coverage on Super Typhoon Rai's impact is scarce, it is important to be vigilant in our research.

Check out how your city, state, or country is tackling climate change, and use your voice to contact local policymakers and spread the word. Environmental change starts with both a mission and action. While reversing the damages caused by climate change won't happen overnight, we can change our actions moving forward.