PC typhoon Longwang blows away Cindy

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Typhoons are set to go PC. No longer will they be called Bret or Cindy or Floyd. The tropical storms which rip through the Pacific and south Asia will shed their "imperialist" English Christian names, and instead, in a move that hurricane watchers hope will save lives and appease the political correctness lobby, will be named after local animals and deities.

Typhoons are set to go PC. No longer will they be called Bret or Cindy or Floyd. The tropical storms which rip through the Pacific and south Asia will shed their "imperialist" English Christian names, and instead, in a move that hurricane watchers hope will save lives and appease the political correctness lobby, will be named after local animals and deities.

The 14 countries bordering the north-west Pacific and the South China Sea have agreed to make the change this year, from the start of the typhoon season in June. The first will be called Damrey, Cambodian for elephant, the next Longwang, the Chinese god of rain, then Kriogi, a North Korean wild goose - and so on down a list painstakingly compiled by the UN Economic & Social Commission from Asia and the Pacific, and the World Meteorological Organisation.

"The English names meant nothing to people in that area," says Richard Hagemeyer of the Joint Typhoon Warning Centre in Honolulu, which has been naming the storms for decades. "Names in the vernacular will focus attention and interest. It has the capability of reducing the potential of loss of life."

The new names will draw on several languages including Japanese, Chinese, Thai, Marshallese, Cambodian and Korean. The naming of typhoons - known as hurricanes in the Atlantic - has constantly fallen foul of political correctness. For centuries they were called after the Christian saints on whose day they began, but by the late 19th century this was thought sacrilegious. They then got female English names, in alphabetical order, but men's names were added in 1978 to rebuff charges of sexism.

In the latest twist, Friends of the Earth wants to show up global warming culprits in the names. "At present companies are living in a fantasy world, denying the effects of their activities on the climate," said Tony Juniper, FoE's policy director, speaking about how global warming increases tropical storms. "Publicity about a Typhoon Texaco or Hurricane Vauxhall, would hit firms where it hurts, in theirpublic image."

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