500+ Words Essay on Natural Disasters
Natural disasters are major unpredicted events that have harmful effects on our society. They are severe, and they damage everything in their surrounding space. They pose a threat to the health and well-being of all living populations. Natural disasters include tsunamis, cyclones, earthquakes, landslides, floods, volcanic eruptions, and avalanches. Their destruction capacity can be calculated by their spatial extent.
The spatial extent helps in determining the level of severity of a natural hazard. With the rising population and the growth in the number of industries, man has exploited almost all the natural resources present on our planet. This has left our ecosystem in a state of imbalance.
Nature is all-powerful, and there is no escape to its wrath. Our selfish activities have led to disasters like pollution, global warming, and ozone depletion. Natural disasters cause a loss in one form or another. We cannot prevent them, but we can certainly take some controlled steps to minimize their effects.
Types of Natural Disasters
A tsunami can be identified as a very large seismic wave in an ocean or a sea. It is caused by any kind of geophysical activity on the ocean floor. These activities can be earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and landslides. Tsunamis consist of multiple waves of high current capacity. Tsunami waves are very high when they reach the coastal areas. They can easily flood the shores. People living in these areas cannot outrun these gigantic waves. Loss of life and property follows.
Tsunamis originating from the Pacific Ocean have endangered 22 countries. Cases of Hawaii and Japan have reported that waves can be as high as 30 meters in height. They can travel up to 10,000 kilometers at an extreme velocity of 900 kilometers per hour without losing any energy.
This has resulted in the formation of the Pacific tsunami warning center (to provide people with early warnings). Real-time warnings can be beneficial for immediate evacuation. However, only a few of these countries have successfully availed the facility. Tsunami, during the years of 1977-1986, has taken around 6000 lives. In 2004, Tsunami hit the coasts of Indonesia, Sumatra, India and Sri Lanka. The death toll was near about 2.5 lakhs along with extensive damage to property and infrastructure.
Cyclones are violent storms that are associated with thunder, lightning and torrential rains. They are robust swirling winds which can bring a lot of damage to the affected areas. They do not have any specific direction and can have a speed of about 240-1200 miles per hour. Cyclones mostly hit the warm countries and can result in loss of life, damage to crops, fallen trees, and sinking of boats.
India is one of the most cyclone hit countries in the world. In general, five to six cyclones hit the coastlines of India every year. Cyclones originate on both the east (Bay of Bengal) and west coasts (Arabian Sea). However, more cases have been recorded in the Bay of Bengal area. From 1890-1990 at least 262 cyclones have occurred along the east coast, of which 92 were severe. Tropical cyclones of extremely high intensity in India hit the shores in two peak periods (months of May-June and October-November). Storm surges, high winds, and rainfall make the disaster potential quite high.
The sudden movement of Earth’s tectonic plate, which results in a shake or vibration of the ground is termed as an earthquake. It is mostly caused by the rupture of geological faults. However, volcanic eruptions and mine blasts can also initiate them. Earthquakes can vary in scale and size.
Some are mild, whereas some occur with great intensity. One with a strong scale of intensity can cause havoc. It is capable of destroying an entire city. Besides, earthquakes also trigger landslides, avalanches, and tsunamis.
India is highly vulnerable to earthquakes and has encountered 10 severe earthquakes over the last two decades. The death toll of 35,000 makes it one of the most prone zones to this seismic hazard. The Himalayan regions, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and Kutch are some of the topmost areas which face large-scale destruction. Moreover, every year the north-east areas are reported to face earthquakes of over 5.0 magnitudes.
Movement of rock and debris down a sloped portion of land is known as a landslide. It is caused by rain, volcanoes, and earthquakes. Soil erosion (due to deforestation) makes the land unstable and also causes landslides. Landslides mostly occur in mountain areas. Therefore, life in hilly terrains is always susceptible to these kinds of events.
In 1998, almost 380 people residing in Malpa were hit by a massive landslide and lost their lives. Mudslides and flash floods in Mansarovar (2010) killed 196 people and left more than 400 injured badly. The Himalayan chain of mountains, the Nilgiris, the Eastern Ghats, and the Western Ghats are places that face severe landslides.
Avalanche is also known as a snow slide. It occurs when a mass of snow rapidly slides along a sloped region (mountain tops). These can also originate as a result of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Avalanches commonly occur on convex slopes and also on slopes covered with grass. Surviving an avalanche is rare because here, death happens due to hypothermia.
Avalanches can be quite dangerous, and they are common in many areas of the Himalayas like Pir Panijat, Drass, and Badrinath. Almost 30 people, living in the Himalayan belt, are killed in the avalanches as per a report of the DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organisation).
A flood can be defined as the overflow of water on a dry piece of land. Floods can be caused by excessive rainfalls, breaking of dams, storm surges, and tsunamis. Besides being life-threatening, floods can cause sediment deposition and drainage congestion. Coastal plains are the worst-hit zones during floods.
Every year around 30 million people are the victims of the flood. The Indo-Gangetic-Brahmaputra plains are liable to the annual destruction caused by the floods. Hundreds of lives are lost, millions of people are left stranded without shelter, and hectares of cropland are damaged.
A volcano is a passage in the crust of Earth through which magma (molten silicate rock) flows out to the surface of the earth. A volcanic eruption can release liquid lava, debris, ash and gases into the environment. These eruptions contribute to the various hazardous events that take place on the Earth’s surface. They can lead to glacier bursts, mud flows, and acid rain. They are also associated with tsunamis and earthquakes.
Volcanic eruptions are quite unpredictable and deadly. In 79 AD, Mt. Vesuvius eruption killed 2000 people and buried the Pompeii city. Some of the other examples include Mt. St. Helena, Mt. Pelee, and Krakatoa.
Disaster management is crucial during a natural disaster. It involves a well-combined plan of action that utilizes resources efficiently during a disaster. Even though the threat cannot be eliminated, its impact can be minimized to a larger extent.
Proper disaster management covers both pre-disaster planning (prevention, preparation, and mitigation) and post-disaster planning (response, recovery, reconstruction). One of the greatest examples is the cyclones of Odisha. In 1999 super cyclone killed almost 13000 people. However, in 2013 when cyclone Phylum hit the coasts of Odisha with a similar intensity, the death toll was significantly reduced to 22.
People all over the world are affected by natural disasters. The need of the hour is to make plans to manage these disasters. Disaster management has emerged to be one of the highest priorities of all nations. It deals with early warning systems, rescue and relief operations, rehabilitation, and long term planning. This is the only way we can deal with these overpowering calamities.