1 / 14

What is a “Natural Disaster”

What is a “Natural Disaster”. And why so many in the Tropics?. What’s the Situation?. This is the economic impact of disasters, which, strangely, does not seem to match the statement on fatalities. Why is that?.

Télécharger la présentation

What is a “Natural Disaster”

An Image/Link below is provided (as is) to download presentation Download Policy: Content on the Website is provided to you AS IS for your information and personal use and may not be sold / licensed / shared on other websites without getting consent from its author. Content is provided to you AS IS for your information and personal use only. Download presentation by click this link. While downloading, if for some reason you are not able to download a presentation, the publisher may have deleted the file from their server. During download, if you can't get a presentation, the file might be deleted by the publisher.


Presentation Transcript

  1. What is a “Natural Disaster” And why so many in the Tropics?

  2. What’s the Situation? This is the economic impact of disasters, which, strangely, does not seem to match the statement on fatalities. Why is that? A disaster is any natural event that overwhelms a community, district or country’s ability to respond. There are natural catastrophes; events caused by natural forces and man-made disasters events arising in conjunction with human activities: - Natural: hurricanes, cyclones, earthquakes, tornados, floods, tsunamis, droughts, volcano eruptions etc. - Man-made: nuclear accident, chemical spill, conflicts, major fires etc. Disasters continue to target the world's poorest and least developed. Of those killed in 2002, just 6 per cent lived in countries of high human development. While countries of low human development reported the fewest natural disasters during the decade, their death toll is by far the highest.

  3. Some statistical considerations • Are there more disasters, or do we record them better? A consequence of the “Information Age.” • There are, of course, far more people around now than there were in the past, so there are more people to be caught up in a disaster. • Is the natural phenomenon getting “worse” or is the environment’s capacity to absorb shock being undermined?

  4. Is there a trend? • Key statistics from the World Disasters Report • From 1999 to 2003, reported disasters averaged 707 disasters each year, up two-thirds from the previous five years. In countries of low human development, the increase was 142 percent. • For the last five years, an average of 303 million people were affected by disasters, constituting a rise of more than 40 percent from a decade ago. • Weather-related and geophysical disasters are more frequent, by about 60 percent, now than ten years ago. • The death toll from disasters has actually been on the decline, with 2003 being a marked exception. • Over half of all deaths in natural disasters are due to drought and famine. Since 1994, they have claimed 275,000 lives. • Drought and famine claim in excess of 1,000 lives per reported event, compared to 370 per earthquake and 300 per extreme temperature event. • Heat waves kill more people in the United States than hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes and floods combined.

  5. A Great “Natural Disaster?” • This raises the question: “What is a Natural Disaster?” • There are two words to consider here: Naturaland Disaster • Something Natural implies that the cause is Nature (An Act of God), and in the West, we have never considered ourselves part of Nature (that’s why God gets the blame). • A Disaster is something that has a serious impact on the lives and livelihood of a lot of people. (Flood, Drought, Earthquake)

  6. How Natural? • Our first response is to say that the Tsunami was totally beyond human influence and control—but was it? • If global warming, which may be caused by human activity (CO2), exists, then it could cause the sea to expand, and that change of weight could have caused the landslide??? • However, tsunamis and volcanoes are almost totally natural in cause. Their “disastrous” effect, however, has more to do with man than Nature.

  7. “Natural” • In some way, the forces of Nature act to threaten the lives and economies of people by disrupting the “normal” pattern of life. • Perhaps one of the most Natural recent disasters was the December 26, 2004 Tsunami that killed over 250,000 people. • What caused this?

  8. The Tsunami • There was a shift in the great continental plates under the ocean off the coast of Aceh, Indonesia. • As a result, there was a huge landslide under the sea displacing billions of tons of water very suddenly. • This water moved at >500 k.p.h. as a submarine force wave.

  9. The Tsunami, 2 • This did not produce a “giant wave” like a tidal wave, instead, when it reached land it pushed billions of tons of water ahead of it up onto the land and many kms inland. • Nothing could resist this force; there was almost no warning, and people even stood and watched it approach, having no idea what was coming.

  10. How Disastrous? Hurricane Mitch knocked out 80% of the infrastructure of Honduras. Why? Because it was poor, built to modest standards and unable to withstand the storm. • The casualty numbers could be influenced by: people living in dangerous coastal areas; lack of scientific warning; lack of emergency procedures. • The question is “How vulnerable, or exposed are the people to the forces of Nature.” • The same size earthquake in Armenia or the US, caused 29,000 deaths in one case and 26 deaths in the other. Why? Mudslides kill thousands in Colombia and, in this case, Nicaragua. It is not that the rainfall is greater, but that the vegetation that protected the soil has been cut down. The “resilience” of the environment has been weakened by humans. Cause is Natural, Disaster is Man-Made

  11. Part 2: What has any of this got to do with the course? Less stringent building standards produce higher casualties. • Excellent question • First global climate change will produce more extreme events, because that is how Nature gets rid of the extra energy trapped by Global Warming. • People in the tropics lack capital to protect themselves, are isolated from warnings, are very vulnerable when the calamity strikes. • So, the same Natural Calamity can have very different effects. Poorer communications limit the effect of timely relief. Different people and cultures will attribute the disaster to different causes, e.g. religious retribution

  12. How does this play out? What part of the population suffered most from the impact of Katrina? Why? • If you attribute the disaster to some “purely natural cause,” or the Hand of God, then you conveniently separate yourself from any responsibility. • Second problem is to prove causality—think of the discussions about Global Warming. • The question for the Tropics is “To what extent does poverty create vulnerability to Natural events?” For others, the Q might be “To what extent do the consequences of wealth enhance the risk of Natural risk?” You might want to ask the same question about Katrina in Louisiana. Was the force of the Hurricane “natural?” Was the impact a disaster because of natural circumstances, or because of human intervention in Nature? Why was the richest country in the world unable to do anything for three days, yet the TV crews were all there to report on this?

  13. One Consequence of defining the problem • If you define the problem as a “Natural Disaster” then the emphasis will be on “relief.” • That does nothing to prevent the same disaster happening the next time, or worse. • Relief addresses consequences, not causes. • Disasters may be alarm signals of a much deeper process.

  14. Key Concepts • Vulnerability to risk—and that is not just where you are • The timely use of information • The in-place availability of disaster-management infrastructure • Having more than words to deal with the situation. The US had everybody and everything it needed, but it fell apart. Why? • Do we learn from these experiences? How?

More Related