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Assess the extent to which people may be regarded as the creators of hazards

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Introduction

Assess the extent to which people may be regarded as the creators of hazards "Those elements in physical environment harmful to man and caused by forces extraneous to him". Definition of natural hazards, by I. Burton and R.W. Kates (1964). A hazard only becomes a hazard if it affects, or threatens to affect people. It is essentially man centered. If no people are at risk, it is not a hazard. (See fig 1.0) The more people living in hazardous environments, and the higher the level of development, the more damage caused by hazards. "Venerability to any kind of hazard is essentially determined by poverty". Maskney (1989). Fig 1.0 Natural hazards happen because the Earth is always moving, and the tectonic plates are constantly grinding next door to each other. Where the plate boundaries lie, most natural hazards occur, such as Earthquakes and Volcanic eruptions. Death rates from natural hazards and disasters seems to be increasing. This is due to population growth, economic growth and the increasing use of hazardous environments. In the 1970's and 1980's about three million people were killed by natural hazards and they affected a further 820 million people. They have also cost the global economy an estimated US $40 billion in losses and US $15 billion in relief and rehabilitation. Natural hazards claim more lives in poorer countries with over 90% of deaths occurring in developing countries. ...read more.

Middle

One avalanche in an LEDC that caused catastrophic destruction was in Peru on the Nevado Huascaran. In 1970 an earthquake that measured 7.8 on the Richter scale sent approximately 50 million cubic metres of snow and ice to the bottom of the valley in 3 minutes. By the time the snow came to rest 10 miles from its starting zone it had killed around 18,000 people. Fig. 1.1 Another hazard, in which people can be blamed for the intensity of the impact, is flooding. The higher the economic development within an area, otherwise known as an MEDC, the greater the impact. This would mean that less economically developed countries are at less risk from flooding - But this is not true. Countries such as Zambia, in Africa have over used the land, and it has become infertile. This makes it impossible for water to infiltrate, causing flooding, and no crops. In MEDC's such as the U.K, flooding is often, but not always as fatal as in MEDC's. This country is developed, and therefore has tarmac streets and drainage systems for excess rainfall. This strategy, however, does not always work. The drains can get blocked easily, and cannot cope with the amount of precipitation - caused by tarmac, which does not let water infiltrate, causing over land flow and flooding. Vegetation is also destroyed in order to build houses and other human needs - causing less water to be taken in by the ground. ...read more.

Conclusion

Some simply accept they live in a hazardous area and do nothing, or maybe move to a less prone area, whereas others try and respond by controlling it. For example; Hazards are inevitable but controllable - modify the cause prevention. Plant trees, build reservoirs etc. Hazards are inevitable but effects can be controlled - Reduce damage potential by early warning systems, Insurance etc. These responses can make things worse, depending on when they take place. If action is taken during an event, it influences the amount of damage and people killed. If it is between the events, then preparation can be planned, and less people could be killed in the actual event. From this essay I have found out that humans affect the impact of some natural hazards, and in some cases also the causes of hazards. Living on a plate boundary is a choice, and natural hazards have to be accepted as part of daily lives, but humans have to build - and when they do, more fatalities occur when hazards occur. Countries not situated on plate boundaries are still at risk of natural hazards, such as flooding etc, but the impact is determined by the level of development. MEDC's have the ability and budget to put money into predictions of natural hazards, and some methods have helped, but natural hazards are present all over the world, and no matter how man tries to prevent damage to their lives, they will never be stopped. Emma Shults 13IB ...read more.

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