The natural phenomena have always been playing an important role in the life of humanity. Throughout centuries, people had worshiped nature and built pantheons of gods personalizing various natural events. In ancient times, everybody had no idea about the reasons of different kinds of natural disasters. They believed gods were either fighting between each other or sending curses on land to punish people for their sins. With the development of science, modern humans know that natural processes flow independently from social ones. Nature has its own rules which cause natural disasters of various kinds with time. Depending on the size of disaster there are different ways of managing the problem or its consequences. But our planet knows some cases of global disasters which were not possible to avoid. There are such questions as whether natural disasters are so severe that it is not impossible to avoid them; and what is being special about dangerous natural phenomena. It seems that the humanity should explore more information on the subject. Various natural phenomena should be regarded as natural disasters as they cause severe destructions, numerous injuries, and deaths of people.
List of Natural Disasters
One can explain ground disasters as any severe changes in the land structure that endanger the human’s life or health. They may damage different infrastructures. One can enumerate such disasters on land as ravines, earthquakes, and a volcanic activity. Ravines are a comparatively small type of disasters because their development requires a lot of time. They are caused by the erosion of soil, when water and wind cause land to lose strength and be worn off on some particularly weak segments. Requiring long terms to reach great scales are potentially dangerous because of their consistency. Local authorities of different countries tend to disregard the importance of the well-timed prevention of ravine spreading. That is why in some countries one can observe roads of death, when ravines develop at such scales that they reach asphalt cover and damage it. The latter one is a source of danger for divers especially at night. Some of ravines, in their turn, approach private houses and damage them severely. It leads to their destruction.
Earthquakes, depending on their power, are considered to be one of the strongest ground disasters. This natural phenomenon is defined as “the vibrations caused by rocks breaking under stress. The underground surface shakes as a result of compression in the Earth’s crust” (“What Is an Earthquake?”). Each earthquake has its epicenter from where the seismic waves of various powers spread at certain distances. There are some countries in the world like Japan, which are more likely to have earthquakes due to their location. They are located on the places where tectonic plates are at a greater probability to clash. Sometimes earthquakes happen as low magnitude shakes that mainly do no harm people. However, they with the magnitude 7 or higher can cause severe destructions of roads and buildings, which are followed by numerous accidents and deaths. For instance, the Tohoku earthquake of 2011 in Japan with the magnitude led to severe devastations of infrastructure. With the magnitude 9.0 and lasting for six minutes it ensured losses up to $34, 6 billion, of more than 15,000 people’s deaths and more than 6,000 individuals were injured.
Next, active volcanoes should be considered a source of potential danger that can cause severe damages as well. They are defined as “a chimney which transfers molten rock known as magma from depth to the Earth's surface” (“What Is an Earthquake?”). When the volcanic eruption happens, a volcano throws out massive amounts of sooth and volcanic gases that cover up the skies in its location. The latter is followed by the eruption of lava, which is an extremely hot flowing magmatic rock. The history knows the cases when volcanic eruption caused the whole cities’ population to die and be covered with sooth and lava together with buildings.
Scientists provide various solutions to a number of ground disasters. Most of them are aimed at prediction and warnings. For instance, there is a net of equipment around the Earth that monitors its seismic activity. If the activity of the tectonic plates reaches some level that indicates the furthermore development, the citizens are warned of the potential dangers. Some of the cities, especially in Japan, have their own researches in anti-seismic basement constructions. Such basements are moveable and capable of absorbing the strike power of the earthquake. Still, most of the countries are not concerned about such engineering ideas. That is why they are not protected even from an earthquake of the comparatively weak magnitude. As for a volcanic activity, the only way to save people in the area is the complete evacuation. It is because volcanoes represent extreme power of our planet, which cannot be beaten by a human.
Disasters caused by different kinds of water masses can be generalized as water disasters. Among them one can enumerate floods, tsunamis, mudflows and avalanches. Floods are usually caused by extreme levels of precipitations. For instance, when a number of rainfalls is a usual thing for several months; and it falls in one or several days. The latter leads the level of water in rivers to rise and spate, flooding nearby areas. Due to the fact that water drainage systems are not designed for such masses of water, the cities or rural areas are filled with water of high levels. Thus, water prevents facilities from a proper functioning, spoils private property and food. When it comes to lowlands it causes numerous deaths by drowning or infections. What is more, due to the fact that water is an electricity conductor, facilities with high voltage appear to be extremely dangerous. Water can also wash out dangerous chemical substances and pesticides, spoiling drinking waters in rivers and lakes.
Tsunami proves to be one of the most severe water disasters. Being a result of a seismic activity under the water shelf, it can be regarded as thousands of tons of water masses. It is moving from the ocean against the land at high speeds. Being comparatively fast it leaves no chance for evacuation when noticed too late. The enormous volume of water clashes with buildings and streets of the cities, destroying them either by the direct pressure or by erosion. For example, the great Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004 is estimated to have energy as compared to 23,000 atomic bombs of the Hiroshima-type ("The Deadliest Tsunami in History?"). After the strike of this tsunami millions of people from eleven countries appeared to be homeless; 150,000 of them were claimed dead or missing. The presented data are argumentative enough to consider this tsunami to appear one of the most destructive natural disasters of all times.
Mudflows or mudslides appear to be a kind of the water disaster of a specific type. They can be characterized as a mixture of water and various kinds of rock and soil being brought form mountainous locations at comparatively high speeds. Being a result of storms or heavy rains in mountainous locations they endanger the lives and property of people living in nearby lowlands. For example, mudslides are a typical phenomenon for rainy seasons in California. As it happened in February 2010, the mudslide approached the neighborhood of Los Angeles, causing people to evacuate. A flow of decomposed granite mixed with water flooded the streets and damaged the houses.
One more specific kind of water disaster because of the water’s physical state is an avalanche. Avalanches are characterized as an amount of snow descending down a mountainside (“What is an Avalanche?”). There are two main kinds of this phenomenon, depending on the speed and start of the snow slide. One occurs on a steep terrain when a comparatively small drop of snow gathers volume and slides down with the increasing speed. Another one is a slab avalanche, when some certain layer of snow shatters and falls down the mountainside (“What Causes an Avalanche?”). Reaching speeds of 300 km/h avalanches can easily cause severe traumas leading to death. In rare cases, they can submerge people by a great layer of snow, making them die by freezing or asphyxia. Though avalanches are relevant for snowy mountainsides they are also considered to be the dangerous natural disasters. Local authorities try to manage the problem, involving rescue groups and warning people of potential dangers. However, still only in the US approximately 30 people die by avalanches each year.
Numerous scientists try to seek solutions to water disasters in order to save coastal and lowland cities and rural areas. Ones are focused on inventing protective wave cutters and placing them on the coasts. Another build dikes in order to block the water as it is approaching the inhabited area. Still, some cities like Venice or some countries like the Netherlands and Japan are more vulnerable to water disasters. They are situated opposite to the ocean; and their coastal areas tend to be highly populated. That is why they develop national programs of protection against floods, rising water levels, and tsunamis.
Wind caused disasters are one of the most complicated among all the others discussed in the paper. Being the reasons of temperature convergence, oceanic currents flows, and intensified by water masses they represent a phenomenon of air pressure of the certain power. It is moving at constantly high speeds and available of changing its locations. It is hard to classify this phenomenon as only wind caused because it involves various other factors. However, immense speeds of wind are a definite characteristic of all their kinds. Among the determined by scientists, there are such as cyclones, hurricanes, typhoons, and tornados. The first three phenomena are of the similar nature. Their name distinguishes the place where it occurs. For the Atlantic and Northeast Pacific, they use the term hurricane, typhoon is its name in Northwest Pacific, and cyclones occur in Indian Ocean and South Pacific (“What Is the Difference”). These natural disasters are mainly a result of strong winds blowing around an area of the low atmospheric pressure. Warm water of the oceans makes winds blow faster, condensing sewage in huge clouds. The flows of hot and cold air make a spiral in which air is spinning together with the moisture at high speeds.
Striking the land these wind powers involving disasters affect billions of people all over the world, causing terrible devastations. Collapsing walls of houses, various facilities, destroyed roads, and power supply utilities bring a catastrophe in people’s lives. They make them homeless and endangering with diseases and hunger. Taking people’s lives they also severely damage the economy of the city or region they strike. It is a striking fact that poor people are more vulnerable, because they usually lose everything that has helped them to survive: houses, livestock, crops, roads, schools, and hospitals.
Tornado, a captivating stream of rotating air in a form of a column that expands from the storm clouds to the ground, is another example when wind power gets extremely dangerous. The most severe ones of them are capable of causing the tremendous devastation, because the speed inside the column exceeds 300 mph. Uprooted trees, destroyed buildings, whatever size they have, cars being thrown for hundreds of yards away is an obvious picture of a place that has been struck by a tornado. Some tornados have become famous for the terrible destructions, numerous kills, and injuries. For example, it includes the Great Tri-state Tornado in the US, in 1925, and The Daulatpur-Saturia Tornado in Bangladesh, in 1989.
They say wind power is too strong to be beaten. Still scientists seek for some solutions of the problem. For instance, China has scientific achievements in weather management. The researchers from this country have invented special cannons shooting in the sky with chemical substances removing thunder clouds. Still a predominant part of the scientific world agrees that most of the hurricane type disasters appear and gain powers because of the global warming processes. Warmer ocean currents provide perfect conditions for the weather storms to appear and become more powerful. That is why they address ecological organizations to force the governments for supporting global warming management programs.
They say “fire is a good servant but a very bad master” (“Helping You to Be Prepared”). When it comes to disasters, fire is one of their kinds that have no mercy, burning everything on its way. Fire is a process of oxidation; it needs fuel, heat, and oxygen for a successful chemical reaction. If it is not under control, it may use as its fuel nearly everything, ceasing only in the case when there is no oxidation or material. Numerous woods during hot seasons are a perfect place for the fire to grow and become severe. That is why firestorm is one of the most dangerous kinds of natural disasters. It can be either natural or man-made, unlike most of the disasters. Natural ignition can be caused by lightning; volcanic eruption or gas systems break during an earthquake (“Fire Disasters”). The number of people killed by the fire in the world is counted in thousands. It may be either domestic fire or at some facilities, burning the houses in the cities. But most severe fires occur in forests. Destroying the lungs of our planet they also kill numerous birds and animals, covering the sky with smog. For example, the wildfire of 1910 in Idaho and Montana burned out three million acres of land and killed 86 people.
Numerous scientists seek the solutions to beat severe firestorms. They propose different chemical substances causing fire to cease and create special vehicles to deliver water and chemical in extremely hot areas. Still many people agree that the best way to beat fire is to control it. That is why numerous governmental initiatives are aimed at informing everybody of the dangers of fire disasters. The latter causes effect in their prevention.
One that seems to be doubtful, though inevitable is a possible cosmic disaster. By latter one, specialists mean a potential threat of an asteroid attack. Asteroid is a space object of different sizes and constituents that has a form of solid rock, flying in outer space. Due to the fact that cosmic speeds are at a greater scale faster that on the Earth, even the mid-sized asteroid can cause severe devastations. What is more, modern technology may warn people of potential threats, but there is no way to avoid it if its trajectory meets the Earth. They say that there is a list of potentially hazardous asteroids that remain dangerous as far as their way may be crossed with the Earth’s orbit.
Scientists claim that in the period over 4,5 billion years ago the Earth faced many asteroids that greatly changed its landscapes. Some of them stroke so hard that changed the climatic processes of the planet, causing earthquakes and storms. Thus, even a tiny asteroid, by the measures of space objects can cause a severe natural disaster or even destroy the planet.
One can agree that a cosmic disaster of an asteroid type is extremely hard to be manageable. Still numerous cosmologists, astrologists, and futurists seek possible solutions. Ones tend to invent special weapons making available the destruction of the asteroid or changing its trajectory. Others tend to search new home for humanity, searching planets of the Earth type and inventing cosmic engines. But both groups agree that the danger of the asteroid type can cause severe destructions, leading to earthquakes, tsunamis, and numerous cyclones to emerge. Though this problem seems to be of a long term perspective or a low probability, it goes without saying that it is better to be prepared for such a course of events.
A Usual Course of Natural Events
Though the arguments presented seem to be persuasive, some people refuse to consider the mentioned phenomena as disasters. They tend to believe that it is a usual course of natural events that occasionally contact with people, because they inhabit huge land areas. In such conditions, such confrontation of a man and nature is inevitable and should be accepted as a fate. This group of people argues that in ancient times, when the planet was not overpopulated, any severe storms or an earthquake occurred on the areas distant from settlements. That is why they were not dangerous. What is more, some people blame humanity for inventing unsafe housing: skyscrapers that are vulnerable for earthquakes, domestic housing of light wood that is vulnerable for tsunamis and weather storms and so on. But one can only partially agree with these statements, because our planet knows several cases when flood and tsunami, or an asteroid turned out to endanger any creature on the planet. For instance, there are numerous theories about the disaster that killed dinosaurs. If all the species of them, that were more resistant to the severe weather, died, one can only think what might become with humanity. That is why the ones have to bear in mind that such phenomena are not to be accepted as a fate or doom. However, it is a natural disaster that should be managed in order to save people’s lives.
To draw the conclusion, one has to agree that there are numerous natural disasters of any kind humanity may face with. They can be of land, water, wind, fire or cosmic origin. However, despite this fact some of them provided immense destructions and took millions of lives through the course of history. People cooperate in their knowledge and skills to master some of these phenomena in order to avoid destructions and deaths. Unfortunately, poor people are the most vulnerable ones while faced with any kind of the natural disaster. But most of harmful natural phenomena are so powerful that they are able to wipe out the whole cities from the face of our planet. Thus, it is extremely important for people of any nation to cooperate. If one thinks it is not his or her business, one should bear in mind that there are a lot of disasters that may concern his or her life next. Most of them are believed to be available to avoid with time, using united forces for scientific researches in different fields of science. When a disaster strikes, the humanity should have an appropriate answer. It is only possible when people are aware of all possible dangers and possess modern technologies to protect themselves. Some of such scientific inventions have been implemented, for example, a special basement for buildings in Japan in order to resist earthquakes. Some technologies like exoskeletons or body parts growth or print in order to exchange damaged ones are being developed. Some scientists even search for a better planet and technologies to get there in order to avoid possible future cosmic disasters.