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Hurricanes and Earthquakes

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Hurricanes and earthquakes are two of the most dangerous natural disasters in the United States. They can be very disastrous and deadly. In the United States, there have been 73 hurricanes since 1954. Earthquakes are harder to detect because they have to have at least a magnitude of 5 (“Earthquakes per year,” 2009). The amount of earthquakes detected in the United States was 1656 in the past 10 years (“Earthquakes per year,” 2009). The World Meteorological Organization is the organization that can choose the names of hurricanes. At the beginning of the year, the first hurricane always begins with an A name, and continue down the alphabet (NHC, 2003). The letters not used to name a hurricane are, Q, U, X, Y, and Z (Netting, 2003).

HurricanesHurricanes are one of the most dangerous natural disasters for an area to endure. Hurricanes consist of powerful fast winds and heavy rain. A hurricane is a low tropical storm with winds exceeding 74 MPH that can easily damage property and buildings or even kill individuals in its path. A hurricane occurs when heat is released in the form of large amounts of water vapor condensed that heat up the air and reduce air pressure close the ocean surface. This action causes air to move quickly inward creating a circular motion around the low pressure area. The circular winds form an upright cylinder that can extend upward for many miles. Most hurricanes initiate out in the ocean and gain strength, speed and energy as they travel across the ocean waters. Once a hurricane hits land, it usually loses its strength and speed as a result of friction from items that it encounters in its path.

EarthquakesEarthquakes are known for their damaging and unparalleled forces that have caused destruction to entire cities and deaths to many individuals. Usually there is no notice about when an earthquake will strike. The earth’s crust is made up of several plates that float and slowly move, due to convection currents, on molten lava, called magma. Friction occurs when two or more plates meet creating a fault. Tension constantly builds up on the fault when plates push together. Shock waves that create vibrations occur when two plates slip resulting in the ground around the fault line to move and shake. This occurrence is an Earthquake.

Catastrophic Disasters Caused by HurricanesOn Monday, August 29, 2005, the United States experienced one of its most catastrophic disasters to date by Hurricane Katrina. In addition, Hurricane Katrina is predicted to be the most costly and catastrophic disasters the United States, where “…105 Billion was sought for repairs.” (Discover Communications, 2009) However, Hurricane Katrina is not alone in its costs to the American taxpayers. According to RMS, “…hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne” (RMS, 2005) had claims totaling “…$13 billion” (RMS, 2005) that had yet to have been addressed when Hurricane Katrina had hit.

Hurricanes, if not monitored closely may have catastrophic affects on any environment in its path and this was the case with the victims of Hurricane Katrina. The New Orleans levees could not hold the water and a breech occurred on the 17th Street Canals as well as two other canals. Due to the fast moving water people were either unable to escape and climbed up to their rooftops or trees, with some falling to their death. In the end the death toll of Hurricane Katrina was “…1800 people” (Discover Communications, 2009). In addition, there were affects on major economical areas such as for six months after the disaster of Hurricane Katrina, oil production had dwindled to “…24 percent of the annual production” (Discovery Communications, 2009).

The damage continued with damage to 1.3 million acres of Mississippi’s forests, at the cost of five billion (Discovery Communications, 2009). Residents affected by Hurricane Katrina lost their homes along with local businesses going out of business due to the hit areas slow redevelopment. This caused missed revenue from taxes that local residents paid in the amount of “…150 billion” (Discovery Communications, 2009)In all, as with Hurricanes Katrina, Charley, Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne it is apparent the mark that this act of nature can cause with areas or environments in its path. It can start at the top of the chain with the individual stories and trickle down through, environmental all the way to government.

Catastrophic Disasters Caused by EarthquakesCatastrophic disaster can occur with little or no warning. They may cause significant personal or property loss, and there is a greater sense of danger and helplessness than in predictable disasters. Examples of catastrophic disasters are tornadoes, earthquakes, and hurricanes. However, under certain conditions, normally predictable events may turn into unpredictable, catastrophic events. Earthquakes take place on planet Earth annually. The majority of earthquakes are so slight that they are not even noticed. The powerful earthquakes can cause numerous destructions and take place on the planet nearly once in two weeks. Fortunately, the majority take place in the oceans that is why they are accompanied with the catastrophic consequences when, for example, the earthquake causes tsunami. On December 26, 2004, giant waves hit the Indonesian, and Indian Islands. “One year after the tsunami tore across the Indian Ocean, the signs of devastation are still everywhere” (Casey, 2005). The amount of environmental waste can be seen after the water had subsided. It is unfortunate that catastrophic events have to happen in order for humans to react. Hopefully, it is not too late.

Natural Disasters as a Result of Over PopulationHuman Population is the greatest environmental issue. Today, there are 6.6 billion people in the world and the numbers are growing rapidly at an annual rate of 1.2% so it is evident that there’s great reason for concern (“The Facts about,” 2009). From 1987-2006, the number of natural disasters increased from 150 to 420. Scientists and environmentalists have found a direct correlation between over population and the increase in natural disasters.

There have always been natural wet and dry cycles of weather; many of the current natural disasters and catastrophes are directly caused by overpopulation. Humans, for instance, have been polluting the atmosphere, which has caused global warming. The resulting higher temperatures are contributing to the frequency and intensity of hurricanes, tornadoes, cyclones, violent thunder and lightning storms, heat waves, and droughts.

Other natural disasters such as landslides are also a result of over population and poor land management. In California, for instance, people build homes on slopes where they don’t belong. The land gives way because the soil, vegetation, and rocks have been displaces and can’t accommodate the excess pressure of manmade development (Zelaya).

ConclusionIn this world there are many natural disasters, something we as human beings cannot control. We as humans want to learn and make sure we can be prepared when these disasters accrue but there is only so much we can do to be prepared. As have found that as the years pass the natural disasters have increased tremendously. From 1987-2006 we have seen an increased from 150-420. Research has shown that overpopulation has something to do with the increase in natural disasters we are experiencing today.

We have always had natural disasters that have been over wet environment and over dry environments but because of over population other natural disasters hare happening that is out of the norm.

Hurricanes and earthquakes are two of the natural disasters that seem to cause the most damage and is something that is something we as humans cannot completely escape from. We can protect ourselves but we can’t run away from it or prevent it from happening. Hurricanes and earthquakes are something that damages cities and towns that almost is unrecognizable. Hurricanes have destroyed cities for miles. The damage is so bad that people have not been able to find there homes and have lost everything they have had. Earthquakes are something we have seen for years worsen. Earthquakes seem to hit countries destroying complete cities in matter of seconds. One can’t run or hide from them; one just has to find a way of trying to stay a live.

Catastrophic earthquakes are so devastating that it can affect a multitude of people with little to no warning to protect and prevent. On December 26, 2004, giant waves hit the Indonesian and Indian Islands. “One year after the tsunami tore across the Indian Ocean killing thousands of people and destroying everything in sight. The amount of damage this caused was unbelievable” (Casey, 2005). As humans we may know the possibility of catastrophes happening but we have a way of pretending they don’t exist. With this ignorance we as humans are so impacted by these catastrophes that we have no excuse to not pause and pay attention.

We had a hurricane that struck the southern US called Katrina, destroying so many lives that to this day we are still not able to rebuild four years later. This hurricane caused an estimated 105 billion dollars in repairs. New Orleans is never going to be the same after all the rebuilding that has taken place in the last four years. It has been improved but can never be rebuilt in a way that future hurricanes can be prevented.

Natural disasters are something that can’t be prevented but we can learn about them and try to be better prepared. We need to come together and make a change in our approach to understand and protect.


(2009). Earthquakes per year. Retrieved from http://www.newton.dep.anl.gov/askasci/gen99/gen99281.htm(2009). Facts about Overpopulation, The. History.com. Retrieved (2009, November 22) from http://www.history.com/states.do?action=detail&state=Over%20Population&contentType=State_Generic&contentId=60622&parentId=earthCasey, Michael. (2005, December 19). Tsunami still taking toll on environment. Retrieved from http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10463953/ns/us_news-environment/Discovery Communications, LLC (2009). Discovery Channel Feature. Facts About Katrina. Retrieved November 18, 2009 on the World Wide Web: http://dsc.discovery.com/convergence/katrina/facts/facts.htmlNetting, Ruth. (2003, January 22). How are Hurricanes named?. Retrieved from http://kids.earth.nasa.gov/archive/hurricane/names.htmlNHC. (2009, April 22). Retired hurricane names since 1954. Retrieved from http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/retirednames.shtmlRMS (August, 2005). Hurricane Katrina: Profile of a Super Cat. Lessons and implications for Catastrophic Risk Management. Retrieved November 18, 2009 on the World Wide Web: http://www.rms.com/publications/KatrinaReport_LessonsandImplications.pdfZelaya, Josie. (n.d.). Landslides. Retrieved from http://isis.csuhayward.edu/alss/geography/mlee/ensc2800/zelaya/pages/landslides.htm

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