Environmental Damnation 18: Natural Disasters

Natural Disasters are on the rise. As per a 2011 publication from THINK Executive, from the 1970s to the 1990s, the number of natural disasters occurring worldwide has tripled. It is predicted that both natural and man-made disasters will increase five times in the next fifty years. Ouch!

Why? First of all, we’re still polluting and major energy and raw material consumers, including the USA, China, and India still won’t sign the Kyoto Protocol. This means that continual extreme climate change (which is better terminology than global warming because that’s only one * of extreme climate change) which brings category 5 hurricanes, tsunamis, deadly heat waves, and blizzards with snowfalls worse than any in recorded history are going to continue to occur on a regular basis.

Secondly, while there have been a number of earthquakes above 8 in recent years, there have only been two really deadly earthquakes since the 1976 Tangshan earthquake – in particular, the Kashmir quake of 2005 and the Haiti quake of 2010. But the tectonic plates are in constant stress and while it can never be predicted when they will slip, they will slip and the quake will be devastating. And not only is it likely that hundreds of thousands or millions of people will be seriously injured, or killed, but the region it hits will be entirely devastated. An entire city can be destroyed over night. Every office, every plant, every warehouse, and every truck when the road they are on is swallowed up.

Thirdly, and following on the last point, a considerable portion of the worlds population lives on the ring of fire — the west coasts of North and South America, the east coasts of russia and China, and a considerable part of Australasia. About 12% of Canada’s post population lives in BC; about 16% of US population lives on the west coast; Chile, Peru, Columbia, and Venezuela are almost entirely coastal; Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, Myanmar, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, New Zealand, and habitable Australia are almost entirely coastal; and a considerable portion of India’s and China’s population are coastal. Not only is this area at high risk of quakes, but it’s at high risk of devastating volcanic eruptions as well. The 2010 eruptions of Eyjafjallaj√∂kull were nothing in comparison to the devastating eruptions that have happened in the past. While there are not that many disastrous eruptions on record, the Krakatoa eruption of 1883, which was heard up to 3,000 miles away, destroyed most of the island, unleashed tsunamis which killed more than 36,000 people, and spewed clouds of ash into the sky more than 6 miles high which lingered for months. And almost everyone knows the story of Pompeii which was buried by an eruption. While the most devastating eruptions are a lot less frequent than devastating earthquakes, occurring as infrequently as every 50,000 years as compared to every 50 years or so, even an eruption as powerful as Krakatoa could disrupt supply chains in the region for a year or two.

We could go on, but you get the point. Disaster you can’t prevent, and likely can’t even predict, is always in the shadows, waiting for the worst possible time (when everything else is going wrong) to strike.