Lesson 4 of 16

2. Natural Hazards

Bushfire & Natural Hazards CRC
* Hazard is a threat.

*A hazard is a dangerous physical
condition or event.
*A Disaster is an event. It is a calamity or tragedy or a consequence of a hazard.

*Natural hazards that cause great loss to human life and economy are called disasters and catastrophes. A disaster disrupts the normal function of a society.
*Earthquakes, floods, volcanic erruption, landslides, droughts etc. are called natural hazards before they cause great loss of life and damage to property.*It causes damage to property and loss of life but it also
disrupts the opportunities of employment.
*Small number of people are effected*A large number of people are effected
*It may cause injury, loss of life or damage of property.*It causes wide spread loss to life and property.
*Earthquakes, floods, volcanoes, tsunami, land slide, drought etc. are natural hazards.*It affects the society to such an extent that external aid becomes sate the losses.
  • Every disaster is unique in terms of the local socio-environmental factors that control it, the social response it generates, and the way each social group negotiates with it.

  • There are three observations on disasters which are as follows:

  • The magnitude, intensity, frequency, and damages caused by natural disasters have increased over the years.

  • There is a growing concern among people the world over to deal with the menace created by these so that the loss of human life and property can be minimized.

  • Significant changes have taken place in the pattern of natural disasters over the years.

  • Man has been bearing the brunt of natural disasters since ancient times. There are many disasters which man is unable to face or prevent from happening.

  • They are destined to bring the tragic consequences of human destruction. Due to human intervention in the natural processes, the destructive power and frequency of natural disasters have increased considerably.

  • According to UN statistics, natural disasters kill 1,00,000 persons on average and cause property damage worth billions of dollars per year. Among the top ten natural disaster-prone countries, India stands second after China.

  • People used to correlate hazards and disasters. Areas prone to natural hazards were more vulnerable to disasters. Hence, people avoided tampering with the delicate balance that existed in a given ecosystem. People avoided intensification of their activities in such areas and that is how disasters were less damaging.

  • With the advent of technology and the rise in population density in certain parts of the world, human beings tend to intensify their activities into disaster-prone areas increasing their vulnerability to disasters.

  • Colonization of flood plains and seaward extension of port cities etc. make them vulnerable to the occurrence of floods, cyclones, hurricanes, and tsunamis.
What is vulnerability?

The vulnerability may be defined as “The extent to which a community, structure, services or geographic area is likely to be damaged or disrupted by the impact of a particular hazard, on account of their nature, construction, and proximity to hazardous terrains or a disaster-prone area.”

Vulnerabilities can be categorized into physical and socio-economic vulnerability. Disasters occur when hazards meet vulnerability.

Practice the following Questions

Q-1 Disaster management is more than just reactive responses to crises, it is a complete process that needs a fresh look in light of frequent natural calamities. Examine

Q-2 There has to be a change from focussing only on managing natural disasters to improving resilience. Comment in the context of India’s preparedness for disasters and its disaster policy.