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Chapter 1: A Global Outlook on Natural Disasters

Great Natural Disasters

-cause death and destruction worldwide
-leaves hundreds of thousands homeless
-devastate regional economies

-international assistance required

-spikes in annual death

Port-Au-Prince, Haiti Earthquake, 12 January 2010

Date: 12 January 2010

Time: 4:53pm
Location: Port-au-Prince (capital)
Damage done: 230,000 people killed, 300,000 injured, 250,000 houses collapsed, 30,000
commercial building fall.
Precious Earthquake History: 1751 and 1770 earthquake damaged capital before French
banned concrete.
2 years after Independence, concrete building re-continued.

Canadian Perspective: 1960s: Haitians took refuge in Canada doing Duvalier father-and son
$220 million raised after earthquake
Adoption in progress increased- Operation Stork

Maule Earthquake, Chile, 27 January 2010 3:34 am.

Date: 27 January 2010
Time: 3:34 am.
Location: occurred offshore from Central Chile
Record: 6th biggest earthquake since 1904
Comparision: 700 times Haiti Earthquakes
Secondary effects: Tsunami created
After-effect: Chilean damage was much less due to modern building code and effective
preparedness program.

Natural Disasters: Large amounts of energy released in short time with catastrophe
consequences for life and infrastructure.
Disaster: dis-without astro celestial body
Natural Hazards: Occurs when society ignores hazardous conditions in natural environment.

Natural Hazards become Natural disasters when intersecting with vulnerable communities
ie. Snow avalanche in Inuit Community, Northern Quebec-December 1999.
Natural hazards needs to be studied and understood.
Risks must be evaluated to prevent natural hazards from causing natural disasters.
Natural hazards are inevitable, but natural hazards are not.

Seismologists and Ambassadors

Maurice Lamontagne, Haiti, February 2010

Regional Specialist In Canada: 5.0 Val-des-Bois Earthquake
Areas of Study: psycho-social impact of earthquakes
how sociologists can tune message to make it useful to a population in shock.
Place Sent: Haiti
Work: Install seismograph network to detect aftershocks
answering people's questions
Dissipate fears and rumors by providing clear information

John Cassidy, Chile, March 2010

Regional Specialist In Canada: Cascadia subduction zone
Areas of Study: translating knowledge to improved building codes
Increased preparedness before next large earthquake
Work: Chilean Earthquake was tsunamigenic megathrust earthquake similar to 1700 Cascadia
earthquake. See what worked and what didnt.
Experience: witness positive impact of seismologists, engineers and urban planners.

Frequency, Return Period and Magnitude

Frequency: Number of occurrences in a given length of time.

Return Period: Length of time between events.
Period and frequency are inverse of each other.
F requency = 1/P eriod

Magnitude: Amount of energy fueling a natural event

Larger magnitude disasters happen less often.

Worldwide Trends
Annual occurrence of great natural disasters ranges from zero(1952) to 15 (in 1993).

Yearly trend in natural disaster is upward; human population doubled since 1960.

Hazard: Many categories of hazard

1) Geological Hazard: Earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanoes.
2) Weather-related Hazards: Storms, floods, droughts and wildfires.

Weather-related disasters have increased with time and may be related to global warming.
Human-made disasters

Man-made disasters encompass urban fires, explosions, aviation and maritime disasters, social
unrest and terrorism.

Human-made disasters have declined, due to greater awareness of safety in workplace and

Matter of social choice and prioritization.

In 2010, number of great natural disasters exceeded the number of maritime disasters.

Natural-disasters fatalities increasing with time, between 1980 to 2010

-Numbers underestimate fatalities as number of missing that are not reported.
-Most frequent mega-killers, earthquakes and storms.

-27/39 worst natural disasters occur in Asian belt running through Japan, China, Bangladesh,
India, Iran and Turkey.

-Increase in human density, results in increase in disaster casualty.

Economic Losses From Natural Disasters Are Increasing With Time

-Damaged infrastructure(roads, electricity)
-Industries and business knocked out of operation
-Losses in productivity and increase in unemployment.
Insured Portion of Economic Losses
-1970-2010: 40 Costliest Natural Disasters
-38/40 expensive disasters are natural.
-Costliness is not related to fatalities
-> most expensive: Hurricane Katrina
->Deadliest typhoon: 1970 Cyclone Bangladesh

Developed countries experience larger economic losses and fewer deaths.

-Well insured, live in safer buildings and have better warning and evacuation plans.

Developing countries: General population cannot afford a safety net and states are stretched
for resources.
-Poor countries have no alternative than to form international community.
-Red Cross and Red Crescent: Channeling practice and financial aid.
-Individual Donors: Tend to have short attention span and funds dry up.
-Official state-to-state aid delayed administrative problems.
-2006: United Nations set up $500 million Central Emergency Relief Fund: Jump-start relief
operations in future natural and manmade disasters.

Number of Natural Disasters In Canada is Increasing

-Like global trends, number of natural disasters per year has been increasing

-Number of geological disasters remained stable

-Rise in number of weather-related disasters
-Increase is closely related to proportion growth

Events such as floods, might be reported as natural disasters after subdivisions are built on
rivers flood plain.

Increase in number of weather-related disasters.

-weather events have become more severe.
-Canadian society has not adopted adequately.