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"What are natural hazards"

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Introduction

"What are natural hazards" - Classification and definition A natural hazard is a very difficult term to define, and there are many different theories on the subject. However they all stem from the same basic ideas, firstly that the event is natural. To define it as natural means that it is an element of the physical environment- atmospheric, hydrological, geological and wildfire phenomena. Secondly that it is a hazard, this encompasses that it is harmful to man or his property. A good definition that includes these two factors is therefore: Those elements of the physical environment harmful to man and caused by forces extraneous to him. However it is difficult to decide how much damage must be caused to deem the event as a hazard. A "disaster" is a term often associated with the natural hazard- however again this is a difficult term to define. A disaster may be an event which causes unacceptably large numbers of fatalities and/or overwhelming property damage. But what if the event only causes slight damage or potential damage, is this still a hazard or is it only deemed hazardous if disaster occurs. ...read more.

Middle

Hazards can vary hugely in cause, size, effect, location and frequency. Traditionally they can be classified into geophysical processes:- Tectonic, geomorphologic, atmospheric and biological, however problems occur when these overlap for example when a storm may cause flooding which later leads to a landslide. However humans may also disrupt this when they become involved in the cause- for example global warming due to increased pollution may lead to more storms, and this is where the term quasi-natural hazards comes in. The magnitude (size) of the event will greatly alter the effect the event will have on man. The higher the magnitude the more consequence it will have on man and this is why many geophysical processes have magnitude scales associated with them invented by man e.g. Richter scale for earthquakes. These are used by man to measure the physical intensity of the hazards, but also the effect it has on humans and their property. This then becomes useful in man protecting themselves as they become more aware of frequency and effect and can then strive to do something about it to try and reduce the effects. ...read more.

Conclusion

San Francisco where a quake may cause huge financial damage but nothing compared to Kobe, which suffers huge human and financial losses. Peoples wealth and technology effects how well they can protect themselves- by improving:- building standards to withstand higher stress levels in earthquakes, education to prepare people for what must be done, acceptance and adaptation, prevention and mitigation. Certain people are more vulnerable when it comes to natural hazards:- the old, the young, the poorly as well as the poor and the less educated. But also the people living in the more crowded areas of the world are also more susceptible, with poor urban areas being most at risk- due to the high intensity population, held within poorly built houses with little knowledge of how to react and little resources to be able to react with. In conclusion a natural hazard is a geophysical event which has the ability to cause loss of life or property; this may differ due to factors such as where the event takes place as well as the event itself. It is up to humans and their interaction with the event that decides how much of a hazard the event becomes. Molly Blair Mr Barnes Natural hazards ...read more.

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