Natural Disasters: Daunting Global Challenge

  • 10 August 2010

The world today faces a strenuous battle against natural disasters on more fronts than one. Destructive floods have inundated Pakistan, China and India, forests fires rage in Russia and harsher climatic conditions are having a negative impact on agricultural crops across the globe. The dangerous thing about natural disasters is that they are sudden and difficult to tackle. In most cases, they are difficult to predict and battling against their fallout requires enormous capabilities. Their destructive nature is often characterized by the scale of the disaster as is evident in more than 15 million people being rendered homeless because of floods in Pakistan. There has also been a rise in food prices across the world as a result of the damage to crops, especially wheat. Recent fires in Russia were so close to nuclear reactors that the whole world was horrified and saw this as an indicator of what could have been a universal disaster.

Natural calamities have become the hallmark of the century and there has been a notable rise in the devastations they caused in different parts of the world, leading to heavy human and material losses in the last few years. Experts believe that the world might be heading towards more such disasters, with even wider devastation, as a result of the climate change and the negative impact of human activities on the planet. Warnings have already been issued on several occasions that planet earth is faced with climate change which may have dangerous environmental impact on life in general. The response to climate change and its possible repercussions has been slow with minimum attention being paid to warnings from scientists. It was widely believed that there are more important issues requiring attention. However, following the recent disasters, the case for climate change should become the top priority on the world agenda in years to come as it threatens life on earth.

There is an urgent need for change in international approach towards natural disasters. It should override the prevailing myth that sees them as unique events happening only in certain areas of the world. Natural calamities have now become a feature of our lives and no part of the world remains unattached, be it financially, security wise, environmentally or in terms of humanitarian situation. Under these circumstances, authorities concerned around the world must review their plans of action, remain constantly vigilant and extend cooperation in all areas of disaster management. There is a need to inculcate a culture of disaster management and greater importance must be attached to early alarm systems. Even though that may not necessarily prevent a disaster, timely warning about an imminent disaster at least allows for contingency plans to reduce losses to a minimum.