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Danger to Human Populations From Environmental Events is Both Increasing and Decreasing

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Human populations all over the world are in danger from environmental events. These events have the potential to harm humans, possessions and income. Environmental events or hazards are extreme conditions that can cause injury, loss of life, loss of agriculture and the environment, damage to property and housing. There are a number of variables that influence the level of danger the community is faced with. These factors include; the magnitude and frequency of the event, the vulnerability of the community and the resources available. These factors can both increase and decrease the danger to human populations.

On a global scale the frequency and magnitude of environmental hazards is both increasing and decreasing, depending on the particular hazard. Some of the environmental events that are increasing in frequency include heat waves, droughts, bushfires and floods. This is due to increased temperatures and intensified weather patterns such as El Nino events, which occur as a result of global warming. Rising temperatures have also increased monsoon conditions and therefore the spread of waterborne diseases and malaria from breeding insects. Some of these events are also becoming more severe, increasing the danger to human populations throughout the world. Environmental events that have been decreasing in frequency over the years include; insect and vermin plagues, viruses and epidemics, and exotic animal diseases. They are becoming less frequent due to advances in medicine and immunization, the use of chemical pesticides/herbicides and through strict quarantine laws, which prevent exotic foods and animal entering foreign countries.

The danger to human populations from environmental hazards is largely dependent on the vulnerability of the community. How well the community can prepare for, and cope with the hazard determines their danger level. In general, communities living in 3rd world countries are at a greater risk of danger than people living in 1st world countries due to their dense populations, low level of education and poor economy. Many 3rd world communities have poor housing arrangements that do not protect the people and can be completely destroyed by environmental events. They also do not have insurance to protect their assets. This means that they take much longer to recover from an event, as they cannot afford to rebuild their community. In developing countries survival of people relies heavily on crop production, but often they do not have the knowledge or technology to protect these crops from environmental hazards. This greatly increases the danger to the population as an event could easily wipe out their source of food and money. 3rd world countries also do not have adequate emergency services and healthcare professionals so some injured people may miss out on treatment, increasing the danger to the population.

On the other hand, for populations that are living in 1st world countries, the danger from environmental events is decreasing. Improvements in technology means that some hazards such as cyclones and earthquakes can be detected in advance and action can be taken to protect the community from danger. The communities are able to recover quickly from the event and there are a lot of support services, and money available. People are becoming a lot more educated about hazards and are able to take measures to protect themselves and their assets. For example, people living in the rural Australia keep rainwater tanks so that they have enough drinking water in the case of a drought, and people in the Adelaide hills clean out their gutters and trim back their bushes to reduce their vulnerability to bushfires. The engineering developments in developed countries, can greatly lessen the impact of environmental hazards and protect the community. This is evident in London, where barriers were built in the Thames River to protect the surrounding community from floodwaters. Also, In Japan buildings have been built which have large springs underneath them, which absorb the impact of earthquakes. Overall, communities living in 3rd world countries are far more able to cope with environmental events, and so the people are at less risk of danger.

As the economy of developed countries increases, they become more technologically advanced and can prepare for and recover more quickly from hazards, decreasing danger to human populations. However, as underdeveloped countries get further into dept and population growth increases, they become more vulnerable to hazards and therefore the danger to humans increases. Therefore, I agree that danger to human populations is both increasing and decreasing.

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