Dangerous worldwide environmental disasters put millions of people at risk every year. Events that can range from floods to tornadoes are known to devastate entire cities and landscapes, and often leave people to fend for themselves for days, or even weeks or longer. In particularly high-risk zones, many people have to cope with loss on a regular basis, and it can be even more difficult to establish long-term solutions for displacements that occur after natural disasters.
To learn more about the displacements due to natural disasters and possible solutions to the issue, checkout this infographic created by Eastern Kentucky University’s Online Master of Science Degree in Safety, Security & Emergency Management degree program.
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Global Statistics on Displacements
Studies show that the number of people displaced by natural disasters has nearly doubled since the 1970s. Between the years of 2008 and 2013, over 150 million people have been displaced in upwards of 160 countries. In 2010, scientists determined that over ninety percent of all displacements that had occurred that year, which numbered well into 42 million, were caused by climate change. In 2013, over 22 million people had to flee their homes because of the sudden appearance of hurricanes, earthquakes, and typhoons. On average, as many as 27 million people become displaced from their homes every decade because of natural disasters. Floods and storms are the largest culprits, as they account for over eighty percent of all weather induced displacements.
Despite these statistics and the related correlations, scientists believe that, ultimately, urbanization is to blame for such displacements. All types of cities attract temporary residents who congregate together in tent cities. Many of these tent locations are constructed poorly, with substandard materials, arranged near watery areas, such as beaches and deltas. Since the 1970s, there has also been a very large population growth as well, which means that, statistically, urbanization will cause more people to live near natural disaster hotspots. Since the 70s, there has been a 187% growth in urban populations, with even more urban growth, double that number, in developing countries.
Asia is the largest continent that regularly experiences displacements. The countries that have the highest levels of displaced individuals include China, Bangladesh, India, Vietnam, and Philippines. Among the most sudden onsets of these were earthquakes and floods. Less common causes for displacements include windstorms and volcanic activity. In North America, the largest causes of displacements are tornadoes in the Midwest. Over two hundred thousand residents in Oklahoma are regularly affected by tornadoes, and sudden floods regularly affect over a hundred thousand residents in Alberta. With urbanization such an active factor, more people will be affected by these disasters.
In addition to the lives lost and people forced to evacuate because of such disasters, numerous financial losses regularly accommodate such disasters. Among these losses are directly affected things, such as lost income, lost buildings, lost assets, lost bridges, and other lost articles of infrastructure. Indirectly, the appearance of a sudden natural disaster can be enough to cause problems for the entire country. Loss of tax revenue, tourism, insurance, labor, and even sanitation are all problems expected to arise from a natural disaster.
In the past, there have been tremendous costs associated with relief efforts in helping those affected by natural disasters. In 2011, over $360 billion was raised for over three hundred natural disasters, the worst of which was in Australia. In the year that followed, $160 billion was raised for three hundred and ten disasters, including Hurricane Sandy, which left dozens dead in the United States. In 2013, natural disasters all over the world cost government leaders $192 billion, with China experiencing some of the worst effects. In the present day, several thousand have been reported deceased and over forty one billion dollars have been lost.
Despite the appearance of such disasters, many remain hopeful that there will be solutions. An increase in government funding will lead to much better preparations and responses to the appearance of sudden natural disasters. Proper training measures, as well as awareness among the general population will further help avoid damaging human lives. Studies show that every one dollar spent on preparation can help save anywhere between three to seven dollars in spending on emergency response. Potential solutions may also include addressing population growth and determining where certain weather patterns may require more specialized attention from the appropriate officials and professionals.
Despite the degree of previous damages, and the fact that future damages may still occur, implementing better disaster management techniques can aid struggling people after the disaster. Governments are constantly allocating resources and research materials to proper disaster management, ensuring that future situations may be better handled in order to save money and lives.