Written By: - Date published: 10:30 am, December 14th, 2012 - 42 comments
Categories: climate change, disaster, economy, Left, pasifika, peak oil, poverty, trade, us politics - Tags: asia-pacific, north korea, philippines, Samoa, tpp
These days, the big and powerful players usually get most the political and media attention, while the struggles of the least powerful too often get marginalised. In a world of changing climate, resource depletion and long financial decline, people living in coastal areas and on small low-lying island are very vulnerable. It is often only when disasters occur that we get a glimpse into the daily lives of some of the people with the lowest incomes and least resources.
The Asia-Pacific is a big area, as much water as land, and it is has been described recently, in the context of the TPP talks in Auckland, as the focal point of a new cold war.
“Prime Minister John Key needs a reality check if he really believes New Zealand can remain best friends with both sides in the escalating face-off between the US and China over the ‘most significant free trade and investment deal ever’”, according to University of Auckland Professor Jane Kelsey
This morning on AlJazeera, I saw 3 news items relating to this area that highlighted various concerns for some of the least powerful people: two of these stories involve the chaotic, but not inexplicable forces of nature, and one an ongoing tension between powerful aligned governments and an independent dictatorship.
People struggling to get their lives back together after a devastating and fatal typhoon in the Philippines.
Typhoon Bopha unleashed floods and landslides across the main southern island of Mindanao on December 4, obliterating entire communities.
At least 714 people were killed, making the typhoon the deadliest natural disaster in the Philippines since a tropical storm killed more than 1,200 people last year.
The civil defence office said that around 115,000 houses have been destroyed, and more than 116,000 people remain in government shelter as they are likely to wait months for new housing to be constructed.
The government said that a total of 890 people remain missing, many of them include at least 313 deep sea fishermen who are feared lost at sea….
“This is a scale the Philippines has not previously seen, we’re talking about tens of thousands of homes destroyed across southeast Mindanao,” Joe Curry of Catholic Relief Service told Al Jazeera.
Nearly 400,000 people, mostly from Compostela Valley and nearby Davao Oriental province, have lost their homes and are crowded inside evacuation centres or staying with relatives.
“In my 15 years of service to the Red Cross, I have not seen such great destruction and devastation,” Gwendolyn Pang, secretary general of the Philippine Red Cross, told Al Jazeera.
“Almost everyone there is homeless, there is no clean water … there is very limited medical care.”
Families and fishing companies reported losing contact with more than 313 fishermen at sea.
Many survivors of the latest storm in the Philippines, didn’t have much before the typhoon. Now have to use their own resources to find the necessities for survival, as shown in the videos at the above link, and here.
Cyclone Evan that is still wreaking havoc in Samoa. Once again Samoa is having to cope with fatalities and destruction. How many times have they had to rebuild their lives?
Cyclone Evan, which has already reportedly claimed the lives of three people, continues to batter Samoa today and is expected to intensify with winds up to 145km/h.
At least three people, two of them children, were reported to have been killed in the cyclone overnight.
Samoa’s Meteorology Division this morning issued a special weather bulletin, predicting winds will pick up to between 120km/h and 145km/h within the next 6-12 hours….
The cyclone was moving northwest and at 4am (local time) was located 40km north-east of Samoa’s capital, Apia.
If it continued on the same track it would be positioned 25km east of Apia at 8am this morning.
It would then turn southwest and “intensify”.
Last night there were reports of widespread flash floods, blocked roads, damaged buildings and evacuations.
North Korea surprised a few people yesterday by launching a satellite, ostensibly to monitor the weather, though many western governments and South Korea fear it has military capabilities and potential. It’s not clear whether China will oppose UN new sanction being applied to North Korea. Meanwhile, tensions between China and Japan continue over some disputed little islands in the East China Sea.
How should New Zealanders, especially the Left/labour movement, respond to the inter-state tensions in the region?
And how should our government, citizens and Left/labour movement people respond to the most recent climatic disasters and devastation in the region?