Economics of Resilience and Security; Costs of Disasters and Disruptions

Abstract

The research delves into the issues concerning disasters and the disruptions they cause to humanity. It does this by analyzing the events in the past as highlighted by different scholarly journals, of how they damaged and derailed the normal lives and the total financial costs. The paper will analyze both the financial and the human life effect that each of the most adverse disasters has caused on humanity. The disaster highlighted include floods, earthquakes, nuclear accidents, volcanoes and tornadoes of which can either fall in the natural category or the human activity led disasters. The work does so by analyzing information published in different journals and books that have highlighted how the stakeholders in the field have addressed the issue. The research details the steps that can be taken in order to handle the various disasters highlighted. The policies, which have been formulated for the sake of managing the disasters, will also be looked into though briefly. Further, with literature, the paper will give the relevant conclusions concerning the issue at hand.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Introduction

Various phenomenal weather changes as a result of human activities and forces of nature lead to disasters. While it is difficult to manage disaster especially when it is not expected, proactive measures are critical in mitigating the related costs on property life and social fabric of the affected community and the nation at large. Besides, disasters are a population safety concern. Floods are the major disaster prone to take place in many parts of the world.

According to Milletti (1999), the occurrence of floods has been on the rise in the recent past mainly due to the urbanization that has been taking place. The urbanization phenomenon has resulted in the changes in the land use hence precipitating disasters due to the diversion of river sources. Apart from that, the settlement of people along the riverbanks in response to the ever-bulging populations has exposed them to the risks of flooding. The rising economic development, on the other hand, makes it quite costly whenever the disasters strike as investments worth a lot is lost. As such, it is the prerogative of the stakeholders to make the necessary amendments to policies earlier beforehand in order to avoid the problem.

Past experiences with different disasters like Chernobyl nuclear case, floods in New Orleans, and the recent Japan nuclear meltdown among others poses heavy socio-economic cost on the society. Infrastructural and social life disruptions are evident consequences that take the time to be resolved. The apparent inadequacy of economics resilience and security causes such disasters. It is critical to undertake an insightful and in-depth research in as far as the disaster management is concerned.

The underlying costs of disasters and the accompanying disruptions on the normal way of life are of central use in initiating remedial measures. Proactive planning is subject to foresighted leadership when it comes to putting in place requisite measures to avert potential disaster. In essence, disasters are security threats arising from a large economic slump. Therefore, this study will aid in establishing the cause-effect relationship and appropriate disaster mitigation

Human activity caused disasters

Man-made disasters experienced in the recent past include the likes of nuclear disasters global warming and the change in the land use.

 

Nuclear disasters

Among the many nuclear disasters, which have taken place since the inception of the nuclear technology, the Chernobyl disaster was so far the worst of them all. Not only did the occurrence lead to the destruction of the ecosystem but it also resulted in thousands of deaths. The disaster also saw a big loss in terms of finances. In fact, a whole metropolitan was lost stemming from the pollution emanating from the nuclear linkages.

Global warming

Apart from the nuclear disasters, human activities majorly pollution has resulted in the warming up of the global temperatures. The phenomenon results from the release of the carbon dioxide gasses as a waste product from the burning of carbon-based fuels. From the exhaust gasses, the carbon dioxide rises to the ozone layer where it forms a layer preventing the escape of warmth out of the atmosphere, these results in a steady rise in the temperature levels. The melting of the ice caps in the Alps is solely attributed to the heating up of the global temperatures. The melting of the ice in the Alps has caused a chain of events to occur. For instance, the rise in the sea levels across the world is one aspect, which can be traced back to it. Besides the rise in the sea levels, there has been a surge in the humidity levels of which has ended up producing torrential rainfalls across different parts of the world. The heating up or the atmosphere is a double-edged sword- in other regions, it has caused the occurrence of droughts, and famines while in others it has resulted in heavy rainfalls. These sporadic and erratic patterns have a dealt a major blow on the world economies, which are largely dependent on rainfall for the growth of crops. Moreover, cases of flooding can also be attributed to the large rainfalls experienced in the recent past.

Floods

As highlighted above, this is one of the biggest and the most frequent of all disasters. Floods can either be a product of human activity led activities or natural causes. However, human activities are to be blamed for the recent surge in the occurrence of floods. The global warming as indicated above has wreaked havoc on the normal cycle of natural events hence resulting in the occurrence of rainfalls, which manifest in different modes unlike before. The rise in the global temperatures is the main undoing that can be attributed to the human activities.

The Hurricane Katrina caused floods which happened in New Orleans on August 29, 2005, wreaked a lot of havoc on the lives of the residents. Not only did the flood cause a financial crisis but also a humanitarian crisis. Luckily, a large number of the population had heeded to the warnings related to them prior to the occurrence of the catastrophe. Only a small portion of the city’s inhabitants was around when it struck on the said day. The floods affected up to 80% of New Orleans with some areas being submerged by 15 feet of water, this being a worst-case scenario. The failure of the barriers erected for such eventualities failed to stand up to their task, a fact that has been regarded as the worst engineering failure in the history of United States. Thus, the flood exposed the soft underbelly of the federally built flood averting systems. The immediate repercussions from this disaster were the immediate initiating of measures to protect urban areas from such occurrences. Among them were the research programs into the best ways of planning urban and metropolitan areas in order to combat such disasters. There were also discussions concerning the insurance and financial safeguards against losses.

Natural events

Besides the human activities, nature too has been a big source of the many disasters, which have dealt a blow on the human activities. Essentially nature is one aspect which is unpredictable, on cannot determine when nature is about the wreak havoc. Some of the most common nature’s display of wrath involves earthquakes, volcanic eruptions. According to Munich Re (2002), the cost of the natural disasters on the world economy was a staggering $178 billion as of 1995 when an earthquake referred to as Kobe struck. The loss in that year translated to 0.7 of the world GDP.

Earthquakes

Since time immemorial, earthquakes have been the major force of change in the world’s geography. It has been attributed to the development of major land features like valleys and mountains. However, with the rise in human populations the occurrences of earthquakes have been accompanied with fatalities. The recent case of the earthquake in Haiti is one instance that resulted in the loss of many lives. The entire economy of Haiti was literally grounded to a halt when the strongest earthquake in living memory annihilated homes and other important facilities. The country was literally brought to its knees, as it could not survive without the help of the donations from the international community. The earthquake affected up to a third of the country’s population with nascent facilities being rendered obsolete.

Tornadoes

The American continents and specifically the North America are quite prone to tornadoes. Many tornadoes have taken place in the recent past with the one that took place in Alabama being the most recent. The strong winds accompanied by torrential rains cut power lines and destroyed many homes. The 21st April 2011 disaster exposed the preparedness of the individuals in terms of handling such issues.

Volcanic eruptions

The volcanic eruptions come about because of geographic activities that take place underground. The molten lava, which is the major product of the activity, gets spurted out thereby affecting the surrounding regions. Apart from the molten lava, ash is also produced. This component causes air pollution and even the reduction invisibility hence hampering flight paths.

Disaster management and policies

In order to mitigate the damages, which result from these occurrences, radical measures have to be taken. It becomes much wiser and important for the society to plan steps that will be taken in case disasters occur. The damages not only result in the loss of life but also a destruction of the country’s economy.

Management of floods                                       

The occurrence of the floods has been linked to many other forces. For instance, floods are linked to the issue of global warming which ends up resulting in torrential rainfalls. Apart from the issue of global warming, floods also come about because of the change in land use and the settlement of populations along the riverbanks. Therefore, this will require different pronged initiatives in order to manage.

The use of technology in the management of floods

Technologies can be quite helpful towards the lowering of humanitarian casualties and property damages in case of flooding. According to McCallum (2016), the use of social media as a way of both reporting and monitoring the state of such disasters has been on the rise in the recent past. One of the key features offered by both Facebook and twitter towards the management of such disasters is the running of check mechanisms whereby individuals can use it to check the availability of individuals. This is quite instrumental in the location of family members who might have been displacing due to the disaster. This technological initiative came in quite handy in the management of the floods in Jakarta Indonesia whereby over 150,000 tweets detailing the levels of floodwater across the different parts of the city was received. From this information, the emergency and humanitarian organizations were able to gauge the extent of the disaster and determine the right measures to be taken.

Apart from social media, other ICT platforms or use in the monitoring of floods exists. For instance, Google Corporation has developed Global Flood awareness systems whose prime function is to give warnings and relay the relevant information to the stakeholders concerning the occurrence of floods. However much the system does not relay information in an accurate way, it is still and worthy mechanism and a step in the right direction. NASA has also been quite helpful it terms of provision of satellite images which aid in the analysis of flood patterns. According to Brackenridge (2004), NASA through its satellites and the program Quick SCAT, could gauge the extent and the speed of the floodwaters on the ground. The fact that the satellites are situated high above meant that they could scan large swaths of land efficiently and provide the right data to the decision makers. Such an initiative is also quite useful in the provision of cautionary information for those who might want to venture into such flooded areas.

Policies in the management of floods

The Unite Nations has been on the forefront in terms of formulating policies aimed at stemming disasters in the global front. Among the many policies launched in accordance to this are, the Sendai framework for disaster risk reduction 2015-2030. This policy was purposefully developed for the sake of coordinating the humanitarian services in when disasters occur. Besides that, the international body also was quite instrumental in the development of the Paris agreement on climate change. These policies come in handy in the management of human activity led disasters like global warming which have been attributed to for most of the disasters bedeviling the world today. Floods are one such aspect, which develops as a result of the rising in the sea levels due to the melting ice in the Alps, and the torrential rainfalls attributed to sporadic rainfalls.

According to the policy, the member countries of the UN -virtually all countries of the world- agreed to cut down on the use of fossil fuels and instead begin the use of energy efficient and environmentally friendly sources. Some of the common alternative adoptions being the use of solar and wind power. As such, the countries all unanimously agreed to cut down on the carbon emissions, which are so far the main culprits for the global warming scenario. In doing so, the society will be managing the rising temperatures apart from the toxic gasses, which have been on the rise in the atmospheres as a result of the industrial activities driven by fossil fuels.

Selmi (2016) highlights the different policies that were arrived at by the group on science and technology- a body that was mandated to come with solutions for the management of disaster on the global front. The group suggested some factors that have to be taken into consideration. They involved:

  • It suggested an assessment of the state of data that involves technical knowledge and scientific knowledge on resilience and disaster risks.
  • The synthesizing of data in a timely manner in the case of disaster
  • The provision of scientific advice to those I charge of decision-making
  • The review and monitoring of emerging scientific information concerning resilience and the disaster management
  • Communicating and engaging with the policymakers in order to ensure the development of the right type of knowledge concerning the prevailing issues and conditions.
  • Capacity building in order to ensure that countries can handle data effectively, in the case of any eventualities.

Management of nuclear accidents

Nuclear accidents are by far the worst human activity related disasters. This is because of the permanency of the dangers that result from it. The radiations from the nuclear accidents are toxic for many years after the accident. The recent case of the nuclear accident took place in Japan when an earthquake struck its coast. This resulted in the destruction of the nuclear plant whereby the power supply to its coolers was cut off hence resulting in explosions. Subsequent flooding led to the sweeping up of the radioactive materials from the site to the nearby farmlands and community areas. The financial loss attributed to the nuclear disaster was quite big. According to Munro (2012), Japan was dealt a huge blow in its tourism sector where the number of tourists arriving in the country decreased sharply. The fear of being exposed to the contaminated radioactive particles and consumption of contaminating food played a large part in it. Apart from the tourism sector, the country was also denied revenue from exports as consumers of its products across the world. This clearly indicates how severe the effect of the Fukushima nuclear disaster was on its economy.

In the 20th century, there were a number of nuclear accidents with the Chernobyl nuclear disaster being the biggest. The incident took place in 1986 when routine maintenance was being carried out in the firm. A combination of human error and a surge in electricity supply lead to explosions, which resulted in huge plumes of radioactive dust being, released into the atmosphere in the form of smoke. Subsequent weather patterns- wind and rain- led to the distribution of the radioactive material over large areas of land in the northern part of Europe. Immediate evacuations of the area were conducted leading to the abandonment of a whole city. This effectively meant that the over 150,000 people who lived in Pripyat had to do away with their daily activities and the homes they had worked hard to set up for their entire lifetimes. An exclusion zone of 30km was set up as a measure against the spread of the radiations.

The disaster also resulted in the immediate deaths of about 200 individuals most of whom were firefighters who had been called in to control the fire. The exposure to the radiations largely results in the development of different types of cancer. For instance, those who were exposed to the radioactive compounds through breathing ultimately developed lung cancer. The slow nature of the effects from the exposure meant that many inhabitants of the areas around the Chernobyl were affected though after a long period.

According to the William (2002), the exact financial cost of the Chernobyl disaster is estimated at $235billion and $148billion for Byelorussia and Ukraine respectively. The data represents the cumulative cost for 30yrs for the two countries.  Such a disaster was never foreseen in the first place, as it is quite difficult to predict the occurrence of earthquakes or accidents. However, substantive measures have to be taken in order to avert such a disaster from ever happening again (Rahu, 2003).

Among the weaknesses, which were noted, when the incidents above took place was the manner in which the authorities responded. In a bid to downplay the occurrence, the Soviet Union did not release the exact figures concerning the accident. This greatly hampered the level of humanitarian support and reactionary measures, which could have been carried out in order to bring the situation under control. For example, the research, which could have been undertaken in order to determine the level of the damage, was largely hampered.

The stakeholders in the nuclear industry, for instance, have demanded stricter measure when it comes to the management and development of nuclear energy. The policies adopted by the UN for the management of disaster as also pertinent in the case of nuclear accidents. This is because they outline how humanitarian services are supposed to be carried out. Besides that, the policies also outline the measures that have to be taken in order to tame such a problem (Auf der Heide, 1989)

Management of tornado disasters

According to the Folger (2013), the frequency and severity of damages caused by tornadoes have been on the rise in the recent past with a cumulative cost of $1billion of damages on its trail. The major reason for this phenomenon being the changes in demographics and the building structures that is much prone to damage from the strong winds. In response to this, there have been concerted efforts from different fronts aimed at preempting the tornado-related losses. For example, the national weather service has come up with a way of detecting tornado developments and hence being able to give forewarnings to the inhabitants of the affected areas. This system so far has been quite helpful in the allaying of possible fatalities and losses. The use of technology generally has come in handy in the management of this nature related catastrophe. Updates on the social media are quite instrumental in the preparation of evacuation measures for the inhabitants of the expected path of the tornado (Tierney et.al, 2001).

Apart from the government led initiatives, individuals have been educated on the best ways of preparing themselves for such an eventuality. There are rafts of measures that can be taken by the victims of a tornado before during and after its occurrence. For instance, the inhabitants are informed of how they can shelter themselves in windowless rooms that greatly minimize the injuries. Moreover, they can also equip the shelter room with rations of food and refreshments will be used in case the situation either persists or worsens. These steps are quite helpful towards the management of tornadoes as there is always a constant preparedness for any eventuality. This sees to it that injuries or human needs, which result from such a disaster, are sorted out well in advance (Mileti et.al, 1975).

Management of volcanic eruptions

The occurrence of this geophysical activity is relatively very rare. In fact, very few can be noted in the living memory. However, whenever it happens, it leaves a lot of damage. As such, plans have to be made in order to ensure that it is anticipated with the right mechanisms in place. Among the most common cautionary measures involves the restriction of human settlements around active volcanic mountains. This will safeguard against damages in the case that the mountain begins to erupt. The challenge to this comes in for those mountains, which have never been classified, as active as they might begin erupting without the knowledge of the communities around it. As such, it is much wiser to discourage settlements around mountainous places. The adoption of scientific analysis can come in handy in the determination of a mountains disaster risk. The measurements can be quite helpful as the right decisions can always be made upon the generation of the right scientific data as highlighted above (National Research Council, 2006).

Conclusion

Disasters, as outlined above, cause huge humanitarian crises. Not only does it lead to loss of lives but also the loss of the source of income and destruction of homes. This aspect greatly hampers the economic growth of a country and the health of its citizens. The developing nations being the most affected. Therefore as a way of doing away, with this eventuality measures have to be put in place and implemented to the latter. Some of the most common policies are the ones adopted under the patronage of the United Nations which include the reduction in the carbon emissions, procedures for minimizing the disasters from manifesting and the management of humanitarian services in case of the crises. Apart from the policies providing valid solutions for the problems, it also addresses the issue of cross-border man-made disasters such as global warming and nuclear accidents. In order for the global community to progress without challenges, therefore, the society has to follow the policies laid down. Besides that, the case of natural disasters should be approached with caution and constant preparedness from the society. As highlighted above, it will entail the adoption of safety and emergency procedures like the building of bunkers in the case of the tornado-prone regions. All in all, man can substantially shield himself from the eventualities of disasters but only if he follows the right procedures.

 

 

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