We live in an imperfect world. The planet may be full of amazing natural wonders and beautiful landscapes but we are also plagued by harsh and sometimes unforgiving natural disasters. These disasters vary depending on where you are in the world. For instance, volcanic eruptions are common in countries located within the Ring of Fire or the Circum-Pacific Belt. Then, there are also disasters where you can prepare for in advance like hurricanes while some you can’t like earthquakes leaving many injured and displaced in its wake.
A lot of ancient civilizations have been wiped out from the place of the planet because of catastrophic disasters that buried cities like Pompei. Modern technology has worked to our advantage, though, since there are now machines that tell us when and where a certain disaster will strike. And because of that, we are able to evacuate our homes when necessary rather than put our lives and that of our families at risk against the harsh elements.
The researchers used their data on the number of people living in different areas of the world, combined with the built environment around them, to calculate levels of exposure. Of the six hazards they looked at, earthquakes have the greatest potential impact–while in 1975 1.4 billion people were at risk, 2.7 billion were at risk in 2015. Floods happen the most frequently, but they impact Asia and Africa much more heavily, with Asia accounting for 76.9% of the exposed population of the world and Africa accounting for 12.2%. Japan is most at risk from tsunamis, while Indonesia is most vulnerable to volcanoes.
While the researchers said that these findings–which they presented at the 2017 Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction conference in Cancun, Mexico–aren’t directly tied to climate change policy, they point to vulnerabilities that are created by the way cities are designed and built. While they can’t yet point to what those are, the next step in the research is to create a detailed understanding of how city planning impacts each urban center’s vulnerability to disaster. “It’s less about the climate, more about mitigation measures,” says Pesaresi.
Studying these disasters from space will give scientists a new perspective on these phenomena and give them a bird’s eye view, so they can come up with better disaster preparedness measures to help everyone in the planet survive one disaster at a time.
There are more weather disturbances now and natural disaster because of climate change. The build-up of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere also makes the world a hotter place as heat is trapped and hastens the melting of polar ice caps. When that happens, the sea level will rise and many island nations like the Maldives will probably be swallowed by the sea and disappear from the map forever.
In the last few decades, the risk has dramatically increased; the number of people living in seismic areas, for example, has increased by 93 percent in just 40 years.
The findings, compiled in the Atlas of the Human Planet 2017, reveal the global exposure to natural disasters has doubled since 1975, largely as a result of population growth and development.
In the analysis, the researchers accounted for six major natural hazards: earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis, tropical cyclone storm surge, tropical cyclone wind, and floods.
They used satellite observation data over 40 years to measure for ‘exposure,’ or ‘the people and assets at risk of potential losses or that may suffer damage to a hazard impact.’
‘It covers several dimensions like the physical, the social, and the economic dimensions,’ the authors wrote.
We can’t deny that the world is changing for the worse and we only have ourselves to blame. Our abuse of the world’s natural resources and senseless use of material objects that end up as trash further pollutes the world and worsens these disasters. While individuals like Donald Trump believe otherwise about the reality of climate change, it does not change the fact that we are facing more catastrophic threats each year. The planet may suffer further when Trump opted out of the Paris Climate agreement, it is actually us who will take the bigger blow once Mother Nature strikes back with a full vengeance if the rest of humanity does not unite to save the planet while we still can.