Unrestrained Forces of Nature
Throughout human history, natural disasters are one of the unhindered events in everybody’s life. These natural disasters go in variety: earthquake, tsunami, hurricane, flood, avalanche, heavy typhoon, and so on. No matter how great the development of technology and knowledge of men is these events simply come natural. However, being natural doesn’t mean that they come into effect without any cause from natural and/or unnatural things. This is the reason why for years, men became able to predict the occurrence of such disasters. A prediction is not the information on where exactly a disaster will occur or which areas will be affected by a particular event, or exactly when and how such disaster will take place. With the drastic development of science and technology, men became able to make certain equipments useful in predicting disasters. Nevertheless, it is important that one should look at how people lived in respect to these natural disasters a hundred years ago, until today.
It is no doubt that every country experiences natural disasters regardless of one’s place on this earth. And in this particular paper, a discussion on 3 particular natural disasters that occurred in 3 particular countries will be included. These disasters are volcanic eruption, hurricane, and tsunami. And the 3 countries/state will be Japan, Texas, and Washington.
First, one of the greatest volcanic eruptions during the 1990s is of Mount St. Helens in Washington. This happened at the year 1980. In fact, it is the ‘waking’ or ‘getting active’ of Mount Helens in March 1980 that compelled the people to realize the need for them to be sensitive about volcanic eruptions and their hazards (Topinka, 2004). The 1980 eruption killed nearly 60 people, destroyed 250 homes, and took down about 50 bridges. Of course, this eruption brought about many injuries, if not death, to many of those who live nearby the volcano. This is probably one of the ‘less harmful’ side of volcanic eruptions compared to earthquakes. In an earthquake, when one lies at the area or even near at the area covered by the earthquake, he/she is most likely to get harmed. In contrast, since volcanoes do not more from one place to another, people may have the privilege to live far from volcanoes. Another casualty is the destruction of the natural resources in the state. For instance, an estimated 25% of the sources of timber were destroyed, along with crops. And about 1,500 elk, 5,000 deer, and 12 million salmon fingerlings died (Tilling, Topinka, & Swanson, 1990).
The form of predicting volcanic eruptions in the past is more of mere observation of the volcano itself. First, a volcanic eruption is more likely to happen when an ascent of fresh magma is detected. This is the first observed behavior of Mt. Helens. Second, gas emissions are also in a form of implying that there is activity inside the volcano. This is also used to predict eruptions. Third, volcanic eruption is more likely to happen when there is change in seismic activity or when there is deformation of the ground. This is in a form of some tremors or earthquakes. If this happens, the people should be expecting an eruption. In terms of how well these volcanic eruptions are predicted, only technology will distinguish the past from the present. For instance, volcanologists today use infrared radiometry equipments to monitor thermal activity of the volcano. And they can even use satellite sensors to detect the electromagnetic energy in the surface of the volcano. It is the technology that made the prediction faster and more reliable.
Another example of a great natural disaster within the past 100 years is the Galveston storm in Texas. This happened in September 1900 and it was called the ‘Galveston Hurricane’. A hurricane is a tropical cyclone that usually includes heavy rains and ‘wild’ winds which moves for about 120 kilometers per hour. An account on what happened in the Galveston storm said that the estimated loss of homes is a stunning figure of 6000 among 37000 residents (Cline, 2004). And the number of buildings destroyed reached up to 3600. A hurricane is different with any other form of typhoon since it does not only bring strong winds but heavy rains as well – which eventually results to great floods. In fact, the tide during the hurricane went high up to more than 15 feet. The prediction of the hurricane was done about 4 days in advance upon hearing the report from ships that comeback to the sea port (Emory Libraries, 2012). This is generally the first in predicting hurricane; high tides in the ocean allow people to expect a storm. Second, when hurricane is likely to happen, the rotation of the wind currents spin the cloud into a tight curl (Hurricane, 2012). In the past, these signs are the basis of the people for forecasting hurricanes.
Like any other disaster, the effect cause by this hurricane is indeed disastrous. According to the insurance inspector of the Galveston city, the estimated number of residences located in the main area of the storm’s destruction. And about 1000 houses in other states and cities were affected. Thus, the equivalent amount of the destroyed buildings alone cost about $5,500,000 (Cline, 2004). Nevertheless, as we see know, Texas fully recovered after such great natural disaster.
The third and last example of great natural disasters in the world is a tsunami. It is recorded that from 1900 to 2000, 140 damaging tsunamis occurred throughout the world (Woods $ Woods, 2007). Especially in Asia, coastal countries always experience the hardship especially when it comes to recovering from any casualties. This is even considered as the most dreadful disaster. For instance, the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004 killed more than two thousand people – which are more than the number of the casualties of all other tsunamis in the world.
Japan, in particular, experienced at least nine great tsunamis since the last four years. In 1896, tsunami hit Sanriku with waves almost 100 feet high, and in 1933 the waves in Sanriku went high for about 75 feet (Woods $ Woods, 2007). With regards to the prediction of tsunamis at that time, the general basis of people in predicting its occurrence is when the water in the shoreline retreats far into the deeper part of the ocean. This implies that a tsunami is being built up. The farther the retreat goes, the higher the waves will be. Nevertheless, people today can now predict tsunamis - even the height of the waves – on their own. In fact, scholars and researchers have established a computation for these: the depth, velocity, and wave length of the tsunami. Second, tsunamis are predicted to happen when a tremor or an earthquake occurred. A tsunami is a wave caused by a certain motion on the ocean floor. This motion can be in various forms: volcanic eruptions, underwater landslide, large meteorite falling upon the earth, and an earthquake. In regards to the difference between how people in the past and in the present predicted the occurrence of tsunamis is not like that of volcanoes and storms. There may be equipments to use for measuring the pressure of the water, for instance, but simply looking at the water retreating to the ocean and/or the occurrence of a movement on the ground can already say whether a tsunami is likely to happen or not.
For all those years, Japan is still in a good condition until now. The development of their technology has provided them the greater capability to immediately tend to any casualties. The perfect example of this is the latest tsunami which destroyed even their nuclear plants. Though these are dangerous to the public, the government immediately responded well. However, to end, natural disasters can only be predicted – not hindered or altered. Thus, the only and best way for everyone is to prepare to survive and to always get back into recovery.
Cline, I. (2004). Galveston storm of 1900. Retrieved from http://www.history.noaa.gov/stories_tales/cline2.html
Emory Libraries (2012). 1900 Galveston hurricane: America's deadliest disaster
Hurricane (2012) In The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Retrieved from http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1E1-hurrican.html
Tilling, R.I., Topinka, L., & Swanson, D.A. (1990). "Eruptions of Mount St. Helens: Past, Present, and Future". The Climactic Eruption of May 18, 1980. U.S. Geological Survey
Topinka, L. (2004). Description: Mount St. Helens, Washington, eruption advisories and statements, monitorings and warnings. Retrieved from http://vulcan.wr.usgs.gov/Volcanoes/MSH/EruptionAlert/description_warnings.html
Woods, M., & Woods M. (2007). Tsunamis. Minneapolis, MN: Lerner Publications.