Where do Natural Disasters cause the most Damage?
Natural disasters cause damage everywhere they go, yet some regions and areas may take more damage overall. Following the pattern that water-based natural disasters are the most frequent, as Adam Smith, writer for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association explains, “landfalling tropical cyclones have been intermittent but are highly destructive. These impacts will only become more costly, as population and wealth continues to concentrate along our coasts, and sea level continues to rise.” More and more of the human race and its capital is moving and living in dangerous areas like the coasts, so naturally when the disasters hit, they cause much more damage in coastal areas. At the same time, some tropical regions just like coastal areas are subject to more damage than other places in the world. In Southeast Asia, as International Herald Tribune writer, Bettina Wassener, explains, “people are four times more likely to be affected by natural disaster than in Africa and 25 times more than in Europe or North America." While the world as a whole has the risk of natural disasters, some regions and areas are subject to a larger number and intensity of disasters with the rising trend.
Who do the natural disasters affect?
The effect of natural disasters reaches across the globe but certain aspects of economy and demographics can be affected the most. Natural disasters cause problems for large companies and countries alike because as the School of Global Policy and Strategy Professor, Krislert Samphantharak, states, “damage of productive inputs leads to disruptions in production and foregone income.” This explains that as disasters affect buildings and manufacturing plants, companies and countries that use these for structures for profit lose a part of their revenue. Aside from businesses, some of the people that are affected the most are the poor. This is because, as University of Sydney Professor, Dale Dominey-Howes, states, “those that are poor will be the hardest hit and least able to cope. All disaster-related research shows that countries where social and economic capital is limited are the most vulnerable.” This fact is driven home by the idea that the poor are unable to financially support themselves in the event of a disaster, so they cannot rebuild their homes or replace their lost possessions without help. Also, the poor are usually living in the least structurally-sound buildings, this means that they most likely suffer a greater loss of life. Even though all walks of life suffer from disasters manufacturing economy and the poor are hit the hardest.
Why is this phenomenon happening?
The increase of natural disasters around the globe can be attributed to humankind’s carbon footprint and global warming. Humans have formed the globe to their needs, which results in pollution and has negative effects on the globe. Scientists have found that “the number of (natural) disasters occurring is on the rise but this is because of a complex set of interactions between the physical Earth system, human interference with the natural world and increasing vulnerability of human communities” (Dominey-Howes). The human race is also growing and living on more of the earth’s surface which leaves a larger population to be hit by the disasters. The cause of global warming is a large issue, “as heavy rainfall events and the ensuing flood risks are increasing due to the fact that warming loads the atmosphere with more water vapor” (Smith). As humankind’s carbon footprint increases and the earth warms, more water will be evaporated and sent to the atmosphere. This added water vapor increases the probability of storms and, consequently, the probability of storm based natural disasters. These have been found, historically, to cause the most damage to human life and economy. This scientific evidence shows why the phenomenon is occurring in our world today, and why the warming of the earth is a problem. Humans are the root of this problem and have been creating a worse situation for themselves.
How have laws/governments contributed against the disasters?
Laws and regulations are just recently being put in place to help solve this problem. The beginning to this process has started with scientists analyzing the natural disaster phenomenon. Jennifer Chu from MIT explains to us that, “They analyzed each region under two climate scenarios: a ‘business as usual’ case, in which the world is projected to warm by 4 degrees Celsius by 2100, and a policy-driven case, in which global environmental policies that regulate greenhouse gases should keep the temperature increase to 2 degrees Celsius.” This rough data shows that the problem is going and a collective effort is needed to prevent it. Recently, in late 2015, many leading nations met in Paris to discuss this predicament. The plan is “to aim to limit the increase to 1.5°C, since this would significantly reduce risks and the impacts of climate change...to undertake rapid reductions thereafter in accordance with the best available science” (European Commission). Countries are in agreement to somewhat collaborate and share the best scientific methods of dealing with this crisis. These newly installed plans to decrease global warming, and thus the increasing severity of natural disasters, will hopefully make a distance in the near future.
How can humans combat these natural disasters?
There are two ways to look at fighting natural disasters, attacking the source of the increase of disasters and combat the elements. Plans are in the works right now to help lower the increase of disasters, for example, “The EU was the first major economy to submit its intended contribution to the new agreement in March 2015. It is already taking steps to implement its target to reduce emissions by at least 40% by 2030” (European Commission). This philosophy, when adopted by other able countries, will effectively lower global warming and thus the increasing severity of natural disasters. On the other hand, a way to combat this problem is to prepare for it instead of responding to it. Estimates show "one dollar invested today in reducing disaster risk saves at least four dollars in future relief and rehabilitation costs" (Wassener). This solution to the problem would not only save lives and buildings but save millions of dollars also. If governments do implement this idea into their efforts, it would be a tremendous way to help civilians prepare and cope with the ensuing disaster. These two solutions could easily be combined to help combat the rising severity of natural disasters and save lives in the process.