Global environmental challenges
Taiwan, hit by its worst typhoon in 50 years in August, has found a culprit for the disaster that killed about 770 people and begun using it to get precious attention overseas where the island is usually overlooked in favour of its giant political rival China.
Global warming is taking blame for Morakot, which was freakish as Taiwan’s only major typhoon of the year and because it lingered instead of blowing straight through. The island’s foreign ministry says that as global warming’s victim it should get to participate in the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change in time for its December talks in Copenhagen. Sixteen countries have already voiced support.
“We are a victim of this problem. It’s closely related to the public’s economic interests,” said Yang Kuo-tung, director general of the foreign ministry’s treaties and legal affairs. Morakot’s incessant rain caused agricultural losses of T$16.47 billion ($510 million). ”It’s no laughing matter.”
But Taiwan’s bid for participation faces a new kind of storm despite recent detente with China, a powerful veto-wielding Security Council member. China has claimed sovereignty over Taiwan since 1949 and blocked more than a decade worth of applications to enter the United Nations on grounds that the self-ruled island lacks statehood.
Slow-moving Morakot stormed into Taiwan’s typhoon hall of infamy this past week, rescue teams complained, largely because clouds hovered in the hardest hit areas even after the killer storm had passed.
The clouds blocked any aerial views of mountain villages in southern Taiwan where hundreds of people are presumed dead from landslides.
This time it’s on worldwide TV.
Typhoon Hunter, a 46-minute documentary led by Local Tiger International Co. and funded in part by the Taiwan government, tracks an effort to send weather sensing aircraft into the eye of the typhoon. Taiwan worked with Japan and the United States, both of whose territories were hit by the same storm, to fly the dangerous mission for recording changes at the centre of the typhoon.
But there may be a silver lining even to the worst storm clouds; hurricanes and typhoons may help — at least a bit – to slow global warming by washing huge amounts of leaves, branches, tree trunks, roots and soil into the ocean, according to research in the journal Nature Geoscience. Read a story about the findings here.