Wednesday, April 28th 2010, 4:15 PM EDT
An event that gives catastrophic effects on human lives and living conditions is usually termed a disaster. A disaster or catastrophe usually takes us with surprise, by that increasing the negative effects. The boxing-day tsunami is a terrible example of a disaster taking us with total surprise and giving rise to catastrophic effects all around the Indian Ocean. This was a disaster generated by totally natural forces, and we couldn’t have done anything about it as such. What our human societies had missed, however, was the establishment of an
effective warning system.
We have to learn to live with natural disasters; earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, avalanches, tsunamis, cyclones, floods, draughts, blizzards, wildfires, etc. They are all parts of terrestrial system and we cannot change them, but we can prepare for them in terms of warning systems, evacuation plans, aid organization, etc. We may also avoid habitation at spots that cannot be protected.
This seems less feasible, however, as humans, through history, have shown to chose even the most dangerous places for their living (like slopes of active volcanoes, fault zones, foots and slopes of active slides, tops of active coastal cliff erosion, repeatedly flooded areas, etc.). Sometimes we are able to make precautional work like coastal protection, dikes against flooding, bypasses for possible mudflows and other efforts to try to diminish the effects of a potential catastrophe. We also have to make careful risk assessments. This implies temporal and spatial cover of past events.
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