Earth Science - Other

Natural Disasters and their Root cause

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"Natural Disasters and their Root cause"
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Often called "Acts of God", "Acts of Nature" or "God's Will", unfairly, you may wonder: is there a root cause for natural disasters? The answer is no. There are a variety of factors that can cause natural disasters, but this doesn't mean that you can't equip yourself and your family to escape one if necessary.

The severity of a disaster does not always relate to the power of the natural forces themselves. The density of a human population in a given area is a far bigger indicator of how devastating it will be. According to a report from the World Bank, in more than 160 countries over 25% of the population live in high mortality risk areas for natural disasters. As more and more people crowd into an area, what would have been a simple natural event turns into a tragedy.

Other factors include rapid and unplanned urbanization, deforestation and over-logging and using concrete to cover the ground that would normally absorb rain water runoff. In Oregon, there are always problems with major mudslides and floods that ruin property because of over- logging in areas subject to lots of rain and snow. Also, many developers insist upon building housing complexes in these over-logged areas. Tree roots that normally would hold the ground together on hillsides and mountain sides are no longer able to do so when so many of the trees are removed, so when the heavy rains come there are mudslides that damage roads and private property. This doesn't have to happen if people used common sense, yet it happens nearly every year. When it comes to earthquakes, it isn't the shock wave of energy that causes the most problems, but it is the collapsing structures and the after shocks which cause so much death. Couple that with shoddy building construction and too many people living in one place and the death toll can be massive.

Political incompetence and the stubborn refusal of some to leave material possessions behind can exacerbate the problem. Some places experience earthquakes repeatedly, yet the building codes in the laws designed to make better buildings to withstand these events are never enforced. While the population continues to grow in these earthquake prone places there are more chances for devastating disasters.

New Orleans is a case-in-point, where bad construction, poor urban planning, corruption and political incompetence came together with terrible consequences for one of the most vibrant and culturally important cities in the United States. On top of that, it was built in an area below sea level and no one would bother to build better levees. Long standing warnings about the inadequate levees were ignored. Another problem is the attitudes people have towards natural events. Some ignore warnings that lead up to disasters. There is a tendency for people to downplay the seriousness of a situation until they find themselves in it. Why? Because of too many false alarms or reluctance to leave their material possessions behind.

Sometimes the problem lies with government and sometimes it lies with the population. As we can see, there really isn't one root cause but a variety of factors. However, there's no need to feel helpless. We can always prepare ourselves in the event of a natural disaster. So, if a disaster happens and you have to flee, are you prepared? The New York City Office of Emergency Management recommends families assemble a "go-bag" that contains important emergency items:

*copies of important documents in water proof container
*an extra set of car and house keys
*credit/debit cards or cash
*bottled water and non-perishable food
*flashlight, radio, mobile-phone, extra batteries
*medication for at least one week, a list of dosages, prescription slips and doctor's names and phone numbers
*first aid kit
*comfortable shoes and rain wear
*contacts and meeting place info for your family
*childcare supplies

Having these things can help you make it through a natural disaster, regardless of whether it is man-made or not.

More about this author: Victoria Jeffrey

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