15/11/2013 06:50 GMT | Updated 23/01/2014 18:58 GMT

Philippines: "We Can Stop This Madness"

In an undiplomatic, tearful outburst at the current UN Climate Change conference, The Philippines representative told delegates their meetings have been called "an annual gathering of carbon-intensive useless frequent flyers."

Judging by the successive failure of these international gatherings to reverse humanity's disastrous trajectory, many observers would agree with that frank assessment.

But, he said, in a speech frequently punctuated by sobbing, "We can stop this madness."

He said the process of confronting climate change has also been called "saving tomorrow today."

Naderev "Yeb" Sano, the Philippines' Climate Commissioner, was among delegates from 200 nations gathering in Warsaw to discuss a deal, starting in 2015 to slow climate change.

In a personal statement, filled with frustration, sorrow and determination, he announced that he would begin "voluntary fasting for the climate". He said he would do that until a meaningful conference outcome was in sight. "Until," he said, "We see action in accordance with the principles we have upheld.'

Speaking about the devastation in The Philippines, he acknowledged that it is always hard to attribute a single weather event to climate change, but, he said, "We know that the science is also clear that climate change will mean more intense typhoons. My country refuses to accept a future where super-typhoons will become a regular feature."

Brave words? Perhaps. We might find him fasting unto death, since the likelihood of a "meaningful conference outcome" is so remote.

We have only to look at the ghastly reports from The Philippines to feel that hope for the future is evaporating.

The same question was asked at the recent Awake in the World festival in London. A participant asked Mac Macartney, a deeply committed environmentalist who is the founder of the social enterprise Embercombe, whether he was hopeful about the future.

"I've come to feel that hope is too fragile a platform," he replied. If we have made hope the core, he asked, do we then find ourselves incapacitated, unable to respond when our dreams are dashed? "I choose a different way," he said. "I don't dream of the happy ending. I wish to bring myself forward fully so that I can at least say I have brought myself as fully, as powerfully, as courageously, as joyfully, as peacefully, and as wholly to this life as I can."

Perhaps it was something of that same spirit that gave Yeb Sano, the representative of a devastated nation, the simple human courage to break down in tears, undertake his fast for the climate, and go down in history as the diplomat who told his fellow delegates to stop this madness.