The World Is Getting More Dangerous. Discuss.

The world itself can be dangerous thanks to natural disasters, in the year 2000, 1 in 30 was affected by one. 2005 was a year which prompted the world to question whether it itself was getting more dangerous. The year provided a constant onslaught of natural disasters. Before the start of the year, on 26th December 2004, an Earthquake struck just off the coast of Sumatra in Indonesia. It was caused by the Indian and Australasian plates subducting until stress overcame the strength of the plates, causing it to flick upwards, causing concentric pulses, which thanks to its position beneath the ocean, became a Tsunami. A 30m high, 500 mph wall of water, which when makes contact with you, is equivalent to having a car fall on you. The Tsunami acted like a train, with successive wave fronts, striking multiple times. In Banda Ache for instance, people still in shock from the earthquake, were taken by surprise by the Tsunami and 10s of thousands died. Similarly the second wave in Sri Lanka took them unexpectedly, killing a second lot of people and causing further damage, sweeping some out to sea as the wave retreated also. The event was a freak natural event, it was not preventable, a destructive tsunami happens every 15 years on average. The earth has therefore always been this dangerous. However, it could have been made less damaging if an early warning system was in place, so effectively humanity has made the world more dangerous by not implementing one. A similar example of humanity not helping itself was seen in Birmingham on July 28th, where a tornado struck unexpectedly. As of the rarity of the occurrence, it was not predicted outside of TORRO (The Tornado and Storm Research Organisation) and hence people weren’t made aware prior. Perhaps if they were some of the £40 million in damages could have been spared. Fortunately the tornado did not cause any fatalities.

In August of 2005, one of the five most deadly US hurricanes of all time, Hurricane Katrina, hit the United States. It formed over the Bahamas as rising warm air from the Gulf of Mexico, which was at 35 degrees Celsius, met a front of cold air. It reached a critical limit of 74 mph, had the power of 180 atomic bombs, growing from a category 3 to a category 5 hurricane in just 9 hours. Hardest hit was New Orleans, were over 13,000 people died. The leveés which exist due to the city being below sea level proved inadequate as they were burst by the weight of the water. The knock on effect of this was that over 13,000 people died. However, unlike previous examples, their early warning system was able to save lives, perhaps making the world a safer place. This was done by the National Hurricane Centre, using the Hurricane Hunter aircraft to issue an early warning. Again, the freak natural event was not a preventable one. However, a human aspect amplified it, as inhabitation of somewhere that should have been filled with water if it wasn’t for human interference caused many to die. Some may argue that global warming played a part in creating the conditions for the hurricane to take place. However, if we are to accept theories on global warming being caused by human contribution to global CO2 emissions, we could maybe conclude that it results in humanity being an amplifier for the consistent level of danger the Earth provides in some aspects. With the temperature higher than it has been in the last 400,000 years. Although, in the grander scheme of things, where the Earth is 4.54 billion years old, this section of time is tiny. The Earth’s atmosphere was in majority CO2 when it was new and volcanic eruptions took place across the Earth much more frequently. So the Earth is actually less dangerous today than it has been in its long history. On the other hand, global warming is a massive potential threat for the planet. Greenhouse gas emissions have already risen by 10% since the introduction of the Kyoto Protocol (2008), aiming to reduce the gasses by 5% before 2012. Global warming has the potential to melt ice caps, rise sea levels and cause more freak weather events and put lives at risk.

The above are simply the more prevalent natural disasters of the past decade. It’s obvious that natural disasters are becoming more frequent by their sheer quantity. However, in the grander scheme of things, for the reasons I have discussed, the Earth is not getting more dangerous of its own accord. Human decisions, such as living below sea level, not having early warning systems or contribution to carbon dioxide emissions, act as an amplifier for natural disasters, endangering themselves in doing so, causing global warming, or putting themselves in preventable danger.