Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Natural Disasters - Sign of the Last Days

Natural disasters have quadrupled in two decades: studySun Nov 25, 9:33 AM ET
More than four times the number of natural disasters are occurring now than did two decades ago, British charity Oxfam said in a study Sunday that largely blamed global warming.
"Oxfam... says that rising green house gas emissions are the major cause of weather-related disasters and must be tackled," the organisation said, adding that the world's poorest people were being hit the hardest.
The world suffered about 120 natural disasters per year in the early 1980s, which compared with the current figure of about 500 per year, according to the report.
"This year we have seen floods in South Asia, across the breadth of Africa and Mexico that have affected more than 250 million people," noted Oxfam director Barbara Stocking.
"This is no freak year. It follows a pattern of more frequent, more erratic, more unpredictable and more extreme weather events that are affecting more people."
She added: "Action is needed now to prepare for more disasters otherwise humanitarian assistance will be overwhelmed and recent advances in human development will go into reverse."
The number of people affected by extreme natural disasters, meanwhile, has surged by almost 70 percent, from 174 million a year between 1985 to 1994, to 254 million people a year between 1995 to 2004, Oxfam said.
Floods and wind-storms have increased from 60 events in 1980 to 240 last year, with flooding itself up six-fold.
But the number of geothermal events, such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, has barely changed.
Oxfam urged Western governments to push hard for a deal on climate change at a key international meeting that runs December 3-14 on the Indonesian island of Bali.
Rich Western nations and the United Nations must act to "make humanitarian aid faster, fairer and more flexible and to improve ways to prepare for and reduce the risk of disasters," it said.
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change conference in Bali aims to see countries agree to launch a roadmap for negotiating cuts in climate-changing carbon emissions from 2012.
The Oxfam study was compiled using data from the Red Cross, the United Nations and specialist researchers at Louvain University in Belgium.
Copyright © 2007 Agence France Presse. All rights reserved.

Welcome to Natural Disasters: Destructive Forces of Nature.

This is a fun, interesting, and highly educational resource to learn all about Natural Disasters and the effects that they have on our planet.


Natural Disasters
Key points
On average, an earthquake strikes the British Isles every four days
10% of the world's population live under threat from the 1,511 active volcanoes
There are more tornadoes per square mile each year in Britain than the USA
In Britain, five million people in two million homes live in flood prone areas
Colossal tsunami waves travel across oceans at speeds of up to 500mph (800kmh). Waves hitting coastlines have shifted 20-tonne rocks hundreds of metres inland
Droughts starve the land of nourishment, replacing them with mineral salts
Could natural disasters devastate Britain?
If the volcano on La Palma in the Canaries explodes, a 500m high mega-tsunami could engulf low-lying parts of the UK
Though some scientists believe it will happen, it's unlikely for the next few thousand years
One of Britain's most severe tornadoes destroyed a church and 600 homes in central London in 1091
Most British houses are now built from brick and are much more sturdy
In 1995, a hurricane doubled back from the Caribbean and hit Britain
This UK storm was only the remnants of a hurricane. In order to retain its strength, a hurricane must remain over warm water of 26.5C or above
North-west Wales is one of the most seismically active places in the whole UK. In 1984, a quake registered 5.4 on the Richter scale. Another could hit any day now
An earthquake of this magnitude rarely causes severe damage. Quakes above 5 are exceptional in the UK, and there is no proof that another is due soon
Find out why the movements of the Earth's outer crust can cause earthquakes in our guide.
We look at how many active volcanoes there are around the World and find out why they can have such devastating power.
What is the difference between a tornado and a hurricane, where do they hit and why?
Since 1998, flooding has caused more than 30 deaths in Britain, find out where our bad weather comes from.
The world's biggest earthquake off the coast of Chile in 1960 sent tsunami waves crashing across the Pacific Rim up to 10,000 miles (16,093km) away - check out our guide.


Check out the disaster section at National Geographic
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