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A natural disaster is the consequence of a natural hazard (e.g. volcanic eruption, earthquake, or landslide) which affects human activities. Human vulnerability, exacerbated by the lack of planning or lack of appropriate emergency management, leads to financial, environmental or human losses. The resulting loss depends on the capacity of the population to support or resist the disaster, their resilience. This understanding is concentrated in the formulation: "disasters occur when hazards meet vulnerability". A natural hazard will hence never result in a natural disaster in areas without vulnerability, e.g. strong earthquakes in uninhabited areas. The term natural has consequently been disputed because the events simply are not hazards or disasters without human involvement.
- Main article: Natural hazard
A natural hazard is a threat of an event that will have a negative effect on people or the environment. Many natural hazards are related, e.g. earthquakes can result in tsunamis, drought can lead directly to famine and disease. A concrete example of the division between hazard and disaster is that the 1906 San Francisco earthquake was a disaster, whereas earthquakes are a hazard. Hazards are consequently relating to a future occurrence and disasters to past or current occurrences.
- Main article: disaster
AvalanchesNotable avalanches include:
- The 1910 Wellington avalanche
- The 1954 Blons avalanches
- The 1970 Ancash earthquake
- The 1999 Galtür Avalanche
- The 2002 Kolka-Karmadon rock ice slide
- Main article: List of earthquakes
Some of the most significant earthquakes in recent times include:
- The 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake, the second largest earthquake in recorded history, registering a moment magnitude of 9.3. The huge tsunamis triggered by this earthquake cost the lives of at least 229,000 people.
- The 7.6-7.7 2005 Kashmir earthquake, which cost 79,000 lives in Pakistan.
- The 7.7 magnitude July 2006 Java earthquake, which also triggered tsunamis.
Landslides and Mudflows
These occur with some regularity in parts of California after periods of heavy rain.
Volcanic eruptionsAccording to the Toba catastrophe theory, 70 to 75 thousand years ago, a super volcanic event at Lake Toba reduced the human population to 10,000 or even 1,000 breeding pairs, creating a bottleneck in human evolution.
- Main article: List of floods
Some of the most notable floods include:
- The Huang Ho (Yellow River) in China floods particularly often. The Great Flood of 1931 caused between 800,000 and 4,000,000 deaths.
- The Great Flood of 1993 was one of the most costly floods in US history.
- The 1998 Yangtze River Floods, also in China, left 14 million people homeless.
- The 2000 Mozambique flood covered much of the country for three weeks, resulting in thousands of deaths, and leaving the country devastated for years afterward.
- Bhola Cyclone, striking East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) in 1970,
- Typhoon Nina, striking China in 1975,
- Tropical Storm Allison, which struck Houston, Texas in 2001 and
- Hurricane Katrina, which left most of New Orleans under water in the year 2005.
To date, only two limnic eruptions have been observed and recorded:
- In 1984, in Cameroon, a limnic eruption in Lake Monoun caused the deaths of 37 nearby residents
- At nearby Lake Nyos in 1986 a much larger eruption killed between 1,700 and 1,800 people by asphyxiation.
- Ao Nang, Thailand (2004). The 2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake created the tsunami and disaster at this site.
- Lituya Bay, Alaska (1953). See paragraph three (3) of the entry. A mega-tsunami occurred here, the largest ever recorded.
- Main article: Weather disasters
- The Great Blizzard of 1888
- The Schoolhouse Blizzard earlier the same year
- The Armistice Day Blizzard in 1940
- The Storm of the Century in 1993
Well-known historical droughts include:
- 1900 India, killing between 250,000 and 3.25 million.
- 1921-22, Soviet Union, in which over 5 million perished from starvation due to drought.
- 1928-30, northwest China, resulting in over 3 million deaths by famine.
- 1936 and 1941, Sichuan Province, China, resulting in 5 million and 2.5 million deaths respectively.
- As of 2006, Western Australia, New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland (all states of Australia) have been under drought conditions for five to ten years. The drought is beginning to affect urban populations for the first time.
- In 2006, Sichuan Province, China experienced its worst drought in modern times, with nearly 8 million people and over 7 million cattle facing water shortages.
The worst heat wave in recent history was the European Heat Wave of 2003.
- Main article: List of tropical cyclones
Hurricane, tropical cyclone, and typhoon' are different names for the same phenomenon: a cyclonic storm system that forms over the oceans. The deadliest hurricane ever was the 1970 Bhola cyclone; the deadliest Atlantic hurricane was the Great Hurricane of 1780, which devastated Martinique, St. Eustatius and Barbados. Another notable hurricane is Hurricane Katrina, which devastated the Gulf Coast of the United States in 2005.
- Main article: List of forest fires
Wildfires are an uncontrolled fire burning in wildland areas. Common causes include lightning and drought but wildfires may also be started by human negligence or arson. They can be a threat to those in rural areas and also wildlife.
Health and disease
- Main article: List of epidemics
An epidemic is an outbreak of a contractible disease that spreads at a rapid rate through a human population. A pandemic is an epidemic whose spread is global. There have been many epidemics throughout history, such as Black Death. In the last hundred years, significant pandemics include:
- The 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, killing an estimated 50 million people worldwide
- The 1957-58 Asian flu pandemic, which killed an estimated 1 million people
- The 1968-69 Hong Kong flu pandemic
- The 2002-3 SARS pandemic
- The AIDS epidemic, beginning in 1959
Other diseases that spread more slowly, but are still considered to be global health emergencies by the WHO include:
- XDR TB, a strain of tuberculosis that is extensively resistant to drug treatments
- Malaria, which kills an estimated 1.5 million people each year
- Ebola hemorrhagic fever, which has claimed hundreds of victims in Africa in several outbreaks
- Main article: List of famines
In modern times, famine has hit Sub-Saharan Africa the hardest, although the number of victims of modern famines is much smaller than the number of people killed by the Asian famines of the 20th century.
- An X20 event on August 16 1989
- A similar flare on April 2 2001
- The most powerful flare ever recorded, on November 4 2003, estimated at between X40 and X45
- The most powerful flare in the past 500 years is believed to have occurred in September 1859
- ↑ G. Bankoff, G. Frerks, D. Hilhorst (eds.) (2003). Mapping Vulnerability: Disasters, Development and People.
- ↑ B. Wisner, P. Blaikie, T. Cannon, and I. Davis (2004). At Risk - Natural hazards, people's vulnerability and disasters, Wiltshire: Routledge.
- ↑ D. Alexander (2002). Principles of Emergency planning and Management, Harpended: Terra publishing.
- ↑ World's worst natural disasters since 1900
- World Bank's Hazard Risk Management. World Bank.
- EM-DAT International Disaster Database. URL accessed on 2006-11-05. Includes country profiles, disaster profiles and a disaster list.
- Natural Hazard Information from the Coastal Ocean Institute. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. URL accessed on 2006-11-05. Particularly including articles on tsunamis, hurricanes and other storms.
- ProjectArcix: Global Disaster Information Portal. Overviews, consequences, government and citizen responses, and case studies of multiple natural disasters
- Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System. European Commission and United Nations website initiative.
- What the Development Programme of the United Nations (UN) does to reduce the human risks linked to Natural Disasters. United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
- Pioneering Disaster Risk Index (DRI) Tool. United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Provides key information on all countries in the world.
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