Never before have so many people been so affected by natural disasters as in recent decades. More and more people are living more exposed to more extreme weather. The disasters include earthquakes in Haiti, floods in Pakistan, heat waves in southern Europe and hurricanes and extreme rainfall in Central America. Hundreds of natural disasters each year affect many times more victims than violent conflicts in our time. At the same time, we have never had so much knowledge about climate variation, climate change, weather forecasting and natural disasters. All this knowledge can provide defenses that we did not have before.
- What do we mean by natural disasters?
- Who is most often and hardest hit by natural disasters?
- What are the reasons why natural disasters strike as they do?
- How can people defend themselves against natural disasters?
People who know something about the forces of nature that can affect them, and how and when these will affect, can better secure life, livelihood and property. Thus, they are also better equipped to meet the challenges and reconstruction work after the natural disaster is over. When we can foresee the dangers that threaten, people from Cuba to Bangladesh and from Florida to Vietnam can build more robustly and organize themselves and their emergency stocks more wisely.
2: Geographical differences
According to YOUREMAILVERIFIER.COM, more than 1.2 million people globally died in the period 1999–2008 alone as a result of natural disasters . In 2010, as in 2009, new hundreds of thousands will lose their lives and hundreds of millions will lose their homes, property or livelihoods in over 400 natural disasters.
We can distinguish between
- weather and climate-related disasters
(extreme winds, extreme rainfall, floods, droughts, heat waves). These often develop over a period of time.
- geophysically related disasters
– earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis (giant wave triggered by underwater earthquakes). These often come as a surprise. How to prepare for the unpredictable?
Climate-related conditions can also trigger disease such as outbreaks of malaria and cholera. Heavy rainfall increases the risk of mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria and dengue fever. At the same time, both extreme weather and geophysical disasters such as earthquakes can trigger pollution disasters, among other things through toxic emissions from chemical factories.
But the ravages of natural forces have different consequences in different parts of the world. In rich countries such as Norway, knowledge and development have meant that few lives or jobs are lost when the forces of nature break loose – in contrast to our grandparents’ time.
In most poor regions, on the other hand, droughts, floods and hurricanes are now greater threats to life, health and livelihoods than war and conflict. It is in developing countries that the vast majority of people die as a result of natural disasters. Less than 10 percent of those who died in the years 1999–2008 lived in rich developed countries (about 20 percent of the world’s population). Unlike in resilient and resilient societies like our own, natural disasters help keep the population of poor countries down in underdevelopment and poverty. In addition to lost lives, there are large losses of housing and job opportunities.
While the number of geophysical natural disasters has been relatively stable in recent decades, the opposite is true of weather and climate. They have risen sharply in number (cf. graph). It thus seems clear that we are facing climate variations and climate change as we have a doubling of the number of flood and hurricane disasters. And again, it is the poorest who are affected, as it is most often those who are forced by population growth and other factors to settle in vulnerable areas – whether it is along vulnerable coastal strips, riverbanks, delta areas or in vulnerable mountain slopes.
In this sense, we can say that it is man-made and nature-created conditions in collaboration that make the natural disasters hit life and property harder than before. The Christmas 2004 tsunami was not just a work of nature; the enormous destruction was also due to man-made conditions. Among other things, the growing population had destroyed parts of nature’s own wave attenuators – the mangrove forest. Thus, the tsunami waves gained more destructive power in some places. Similarly, frequent famines in North Korea in recent years are hardly a result of the forces of nature alone; poor governance also plays a role.
3: Natural disasters – where and how?
In recent years, the world has witnessed a number of enormous natural disasters that have affected large sections of the population:
- 2010: Floods in Pakistan with over 1600 killed and as many as 20 million affected in the form of loss of housing, property or livelihood. Many of these are driven to flee.
- 2010: Earthquake in Haiti with 220-250,000 killed.
- 2009: Drought in China.
- 2008: Earthquake in China with 84,000 killed.
- 2008: Hurricane or cyclone Nargis in Burma with about 140,000 killed
- 2006: Earthquake in Java, Indonesia: 6,000 dead and 1.5 million homeless.
- 2005: Earthquake in northern Pakistan / India claimed 75,000 lives. More than four million were affected.
- 2005: Hurricane Katrina, which hit the United States in 2005 and nearly destroyed the million-strong city of New Orleans, is probably the most costly catastrophe in dollars and cents, partly due to the large insurance payments.
- 2004: The tsunami in Asia – with 227,000 killed. A huge earthquake under the sea off Sumatra triggered mega-waves that eventually hit twelve countries in Asia and Africa. The hardest hit were Aceh province in Indonesia and Sri Lanka.
- 2003: Earthquake in Bam, Iran. 26,000 killed.
- 2002: Drought in India.
- 2000: Great flood in Mozambique.
- China also experienced frequent flood disasters: 1991,1993, 1996, 1998,
We can also see the natural disasters that warn of deterioration in the future: “The Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) estimates that 500-600 million people are at risk of having to move as a result of climate change. Around 26 million have already had to relocate. The EJF expects an increase to 150 million in 2050. »
As countries and people have become richer and more secure, so too have the economic costs of natural disasters skyrocketed.