When Filipino climate negotiator Yeb Sano took the mic at the U.N. climate conference on Monday, he probably didn't know he was about to become a hero to millions around the world. But by the end of his brief talk, Sano had moved his audience to tears, and the Internet was soon to follow.
"To anyone who continues to deny the reality that is climate change, I dare you to get off your ivory tower and away from the comfort of you armchair," he said. "I dare you to go to the islands of the Pacific, the islands of the Caribbean and the islands of the Indian ocean and see the impacts of rising sea levels; to the mountainous regions of the Himalayas and the Andes to see communities confronting glacial floods; to the Arctic where communities grapple with the fast dwindling polar ice caps; to the large deltas of the Mekong, the Ganges, the Amazon and the Nile where lives and livelihoods are drowned; to the hills of Central America that confronts similar monstrous hurricanes; to the vast savannas of Africa where climate change has likewise become a matter of life and death as food and water becomes scarce."
"Not to forget the massive hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico and the eastern seaboard of North America," he went on. "And if that is not enough, you may want to pay a visit to the Philippines right now. What my country is going through as a result of this extreme climate event is madness. The climate crisis is madness."
Sano added in unprepared remarks that he would refuse to eat throughout the conference in solidarity with the millions of people in the Philippines who were affected by Typhoon Haiyan, and the massive, still-growing number who did not survive it.
"In solidarity with my countrymen who are struggling to find food back home and with my brother who has not had food for the last three days, in all due respect Mr. President, and I mean no disrespect for your kind hospitality, I will now commence a voluntary fasting for the climate," he said. "This means I will voluntarily refrain from eating food during this COP until a meaningful outcome is in sight."
The U.N. estimates that Typhoon Haiyan, one of the largest and strongest storms ever recorded, affected more than 11 million people and left more than 660,000 homeless. At least 1,800 people have died as a result of the storm, according to The Los Angeles Times.
This video was published to YouTube on November 11, 2013.
Disclosure: Stephen C. Webster is a member of the Climate Reality Project.