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What is an environmental (natural) hazard?

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Introduction

___________________________________________________________________ Assignment 1 Environmental Hazards and their Effects Collette Reynolds (Access to Teaching) ___________________________________________________________________ What is an environmental (natural) hazard? Environmental or natural hazards result from natural processes within the environment and they have the potential to affect people and property. These include: * Earthquakes * Volcanic eruption * Droughts * Floods * Severe weather e.g. hurricanes, tornadoes, etc.. The hazard event causes the actual damage to people and/or property. An environmental (natural) hazard only becomes a disaster when it affects people, hitting communities and disrupting normal, daily functioning. This causes deaths, physical damage to buildings and infrastructure, and long-term economic damage. Environmental hazards can be put into 3 main groups: * Climatic e.g. droughts, floods, heatwaves, hurricanes, tornadoes, etc. * Geomorphic e.g. earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, landslides, etc. * Biological - faunal and floral e.g. plant diseases, infestations, poisonous species, etc. In this assignment I will be concentrating on environmental hazards that relate to tectonic processes. Hazard events such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are particularly problematic. What causes earthquakes and volcanic hazards? Earthquakes and volcanoes are caused by tectonic processes. Tectonic processes have created major features such as mountain chains, volcanoes, ocean trenches, and so on. ...read more.

Middle

Better designed buildings 2. Disaster response plans 3. Forecasting technology 4. Community preparation 5. Awareness schemes in schools Poorer countries are not able to do this, therefore, what tends to happen is that they deal with the event after it has happened - more cure than prevention. Lack of emergency service provision in poorer countries means the death toll can be very high. For example, in 1985 a large earthquake hit Mexico City. Mexico is a very poor country and there was huge devastation leaving the country financially crippled. This could happen again in the future and, as it took a long time for the country to be rebuilt after 1985, the economy is still suffering. There are communities acting to prevent environmental hazards before they strike. It is seen as important to try and introduce a culture of awareness worldwide. There are two important stages are: 1. Disaster Reduction Reduction is long-term, including efforts to understand hazards, using good architects for better building design, forecasting and land zoning. 2. Disaster Preparation Preparation is shorter-term measures including evacuation plans and having food and medical supplies ready. Scientists are keen to play a key role in monitoring hazards, developing ways to understand hazard effects. ...read more.

Conclusion

The World Bank are working with ProVention to develop finance and insurance options that will help the very poor to protect their assets and livelihoods during times of disaster. Each activity aims to build on advantages and resources to achieve the goals identified as priorities. The results of these efforts can advance prevention efforts and help LEDCs build a more sustainable future. Can we deal with environmental hazards? Environmental hazards are natural processes so they cannot be stopped. Better understanding of such processes can help people to live with hazards but major hazard events seem to be much more powerful than people can deal with. It would seem that most disasters cannot be prevented but we can make a real difference worldwide by being prepared and having plans in place. Learning to live with environmental hazards is maybe the best option. Rich and poor countries are affected differently with poor countries often suffering a lot more. Many poor countries are less prepared often because of lack of money and lack of help from other countries. The divide between richer and poorer countries will only increase unless countries work together to share ideas and support each other. Financial support is important but it is not the only support needed. The work of ProVention could be very important and it should be developed more. ...read more.

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