EFFECTS OF ENVIRONMENTAL DISASTERS


Environmental disasters, especially those caused by man's actions, don't come in cute little boxes wrapped with pink bows and scented flowers. Unfortunately, they come with grave, devastating and unforgettable consequences that leave a sour aftermath, and more often than not, a pile of bodies and destroyed properties, in their wake. 


Let’s put it into perspective:

According to the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED, the number of people affected by natural disasters in 2018 was 68.5 million, with floods, storms, and droughts accounting for 94% of the total affected people. In terms of economic losses, a total of $131.7 billion was lost in 2018 due to natural disasters, with storms ($70.8B), floods ($19.7B), wildfires ($22.8B), and droughts ($9.7B) accounting for approximately 93% of the total costs.


Unfortunately, disasters aren't limited to these, they also have serious implications on our health, environment, and infrastructure. Apart from the loss of lives and properties they also cause the following:


­čî▒Crops are destroyed, leading to shortage of food, famine and losses on the part of the farmers. 


­čî▒Water quality is impacted when sewage treatment facilities flood or debris enters reservoirs and waterways which can cause water-borne diseases. 


­čî▒Wildfires release harmful and poisonous gases into the atmosphere which can cause health challenges in humans.


­čî▒Loss of biodiversity which could be as a result of the force of the disaster or indirectly through changes in habitat and food availability. Endangered species are especially vulnerable when habitat is destroyed.


­čî▒Beaches move and change shape due to storm surges.


­čî▒Pollutants from flooded industrial sites cause hazardous chemicals to enter into project sites, groundwater, watersheds, and the oceans.


­čî▒Riverbanks erode during flash flood events. 


­čî▒ In the urban landscape, natural disasters can impact historic structures, leading to the need for restoration and preservation work. 


­čî▒Wildfires, floods, and tornadoes can completely defoliate forests and cause other types of structural changes to ecosystems.


The end of a disaster is often just the beginning. Once the storm abates, the smoke clears, and the dust settles, the recovery process begins. This in itself is a major impact of environmental disasters as recovery and remediation often pose a huge financial burden on stakeholders and usually takes a long time to achieve.


This is why activities, initiatives geared towards sustainability, in the long run, should be promulgated across all sectors.


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