Big History Project
ACTIVITY: Natural Disasters
Humans have been subject to the impact of natural disasters for as long as they have been on Earth. Disasters, unfortunately, are happening all the time. They are typically the result of a variety of factors, which begs the question, are these natural disasters really “natural,” or are they a result of something man made? This activity is designed to get you to think about the variety of factors that contribute to natural disasters.
Take 30 seconds to make a list of all the types of natural disasters you can think of. Look at the Natural Disasters Chart, which lists some major recent disasters around the world. Choose one disaster from the chart and brainstorm a list of all the factors that made this particular disaster so devastating.
Most natural disasters do have a bigger impact today than they did 50 or 100 years ago. The severity of the disasters is usually larger, likely due to changing weather patterns and changes in population density and housing.
For Further Discussion
Now, think about the disaster you picked and examine it in relationship to the following question: Are disasters today less “natural” than they use to be? Why or why not?
Share your chosen disaster and your answer to this question in the Questions Area below. Then, look at someone else’s choice of disaster and see if you can expand upon their thinking or provide more reasons for whether or not their disaster is less “natural” than it used to be.
Want to join the conversation?
- Why have natural disasters increased?(8 votes)
- Natural disasters are unpreventable occurrences that take place, ranging from mild to absolutely destructive. Scientists have concluded that the surges in climatic disasters is due to both man-made and natural elements. Contrary to popular belief, the sole cause of the increase is not attributed to global warming.(7 votes)
- How can human activities trigger earthquakes?(1 vote)
- Human activities can't trigger earthquakes. Earthquakes are most commonly formed at converging or subducting lithospheric plates, most often with an oceanic plate subducting under a lithospheric plate. For example- in the 2011 Tohoku earthquake, the oceanic Pacific plate subducted under the continental North American minor plate called the Okhostk. This created stress because the plate slipped 80m before it stopped and started to melt. These plates were originally moving towards each other because of convection currents with the Earth's core as the heat source and the mantle as its heat medium. These currents move lithospheric plates through convection drag, slab push and ridge pull, the three main hypotheses for why oceanic and continental plates move on the earth's aesthenosphere.(5 votes)
- Are disaster today less natural than they used to be? Why or why not?(0 votes)
- Yes; people are having more control over the environment like population density or cutting down trees. Things like this can help trigger more natural disasters.(4 votes)
- Is it just humans causing or triggering the natural disasters or is there another factor such as climate, weather, or something else that is not humans. Thanks.(0 votes)
- humans don't trigger natural disasters. They're called natural for a reason lol
Actually all natural disasters are related to weather and climate. If you're thinking about normal disasters like war, then that's all our fault. Mother nature ain't do nothing to cause no wars(3 votes)
- In Trinidad & Tobago there has been an increase in the number of floods experienced after heavy rainfall. While these can be attributed to natural disasters, the increasing severity of these floods is no doubt related to rising sea levels as a consequence of melting ice caps caused by increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere due to the heavy use of fossil fuels all over the world.(0 votes)
- The increased number of floods may also be due to the destruction humans are causing to natural barriers of these disasters.(3 votes)
- Tsunamis are less natural than they use to be.(0 votes)
- What do you mean? Tsunamis are always natural because they are caused by subducting lithospheric plates moved by convection cells and currents in the mantle from the Earth's core.(4 votes)
- One I find it altaming that many of the disasters take place in America but I digress. I chose the hurricane Katrina. Thinking about how hurricanes occur I would say that their frequent occurrence as of late is a result of climate changes ultimately caused my the human influence on the environment which makes them ultimately unnatural occurrences.(0 votes)
- Which natural disasters relate the biosphere?(0 votes)
- What factors help in the size of a natural disaster?(0 votes)