Cause of natural disasters
Natural disasters are not acts of god, since their occurrences can easily be explained by scientific methods. They are just naturally occurring due to some forces of nature that exist on our planet. For example, it is evident that the tsunamis as caused by earthquakes or volcanoes that takes place under the oceans. Scientific studies have also established that earthquakes are caused by shifting plates between the rocks that forms the earth (Hinshaw, 2006). On the other hand, the floods are simply caused by the heavy rains and the rise in water levels. Therefore, it is evident that the natural disasters can simply be explained in scientific terms and all are caused by none other than mother earth. Scientists have established that the universe works from complex interrelationships that affect the stability and the occurrence of the natural disaster (Osman, lam, & Siddiqui, 2010). They explain that the natural disasters are the results of physical and chemical reactions that constantly takes place within the earth systems. The other limitation of the argument that the natural disasters are caused by the acts of god is that god would be fair and may not make his people suffer that often. Traditionally, the concept of god was applied to natural disasters was tied to god since scientific studies had not clearly established the cause of natural disasters. However, the development in science and scientific tools helped people to enhance their understanding of the natural disasters.
Over the years, the humans have attempted to reduce the risk of natural disasters. The life of human beings together with their property is often at great risk if the natural disaster is not properly managed. Thomas (2014) argues that the ability of the humans to reduce the risk of natural disasters depends with their understandings on the causes of such natural disasters. Therefore, those that believe that the natural disasters are acts of god may end up doing nothing about it since they know that it is beyond their control. On the other hand, those who believe that natural disaster can be explained by scientific methods can attempt to reduce the same disasters by scientific methods. The latter have identified the role of human beings in managing the natural disasters.
Gilbert White was the first geographer to link humans with the natural disasters. Particularly, White challenged the traditional held notion that natural hazards could not be explained in scientific terms. He argued that the human behavior can be adjusted and modified to help reduce the havoc created by the natural hazards (Hinshaw, 2006). Despite accepting that the floods are acts of god, White argued that the humans have a bigger role to place in hazard management. However, White did not expand his studies beyond the study of floods and therefore his paradigm could not be relied on to explain natural disaster in a wider context.
Role of humans in Managing Natural disasters
Just like White, Thomas (2014) supports that humans have a role to play in the management of natural disasters. Burby et al (2000) argues that it is possible to create hazard resilient community. Due to increased disasters in different parts of the globe, strategies are being devised to ensure that the natural disaster is within the human context.
According to Thomas (2014), the humans play an important role in disaster identification. This is often the first step in the management of the natural disaster. Tun and Pathranakakul (2006) also supports that successful management of natural disasters begins with proper disaster identification. Its causes, relationships with the earth systems, and the potential damages needs to be identified before laying the proper framework for the disaster management.
Before humans indulges in technology and training on how they need to manage natural disasters, they need to have a clear idea of the problem that they want solved. When Humans are aware of what need to be solved, they will have the right knowledge of knowing what really has to be clarified and how it should be clarified and well-structured to ensure that the disaster is managed accordingly. Likewise, it is after identifying the type of disaster that need to be solved that humans will effectively share the information amongst themselves and across different organizations. Sharing of information facilities interoperability, which deals with connecting peoples’ data as well as diverse processes is necessary in disaster management. However, there are fewer possible bureaucratic and regulatory barriers that are easily dealt with especially where there is better communication taking place. According to Pathirage et al (2014), these barriers are some of the greatest challenges to disaster management. In different countries, people who work in the disaster management sector have the responsibility related to national security (Chang, Wilkinson, Potangaroa and Seville, 2012). In this regard, they treat disaster as a national security issue.
The other role of human beings in the management of natural disasters relates to disaster preparedness (Palliyaguru & Amaratunga, 2008; Kusumasari, Alam, & Siddiqui, 2010). Disaster preparedness always comes after proper disaster identification. Some disasters such as volcanoes are too big for the humans to prevent and the only thing they can do is to be prepared for it.
Many researchers agree that is the responsibility of humans to ensure that they are well prepared to face the natural disasters (Col, 2007; Kondolf & Podollak, 2014). Under such situation, technology is the key in making sure that life-saving responses are provided and recovery assistance is also provided to the people who need them when disaster strikes. Whenever humans are considering their role in managing natural disasters, they are also supposed to ensure that they optimize situational awareness. In such cases, the humans will be required to ensure that they consider the real time communication data, manage it and transmit it accordingly and deliver a full picture of the situation (Palliyaguru and Amaratunga, 2008). Humans save lives in situations of natural disasters through ensuring that they improve on the information flow across all types of boundaries (Kim & Marcouiller, 2015). Also, they can make sure that there is a better support for mobile web access across a range of devices. This implies that humans are much prepared to face natural disasters that might strike at any moment (De Smet & Leysen, 2012). Additionally, good system and reliable security systems ensure that there are good preparations made to face the natural disaster at any given time.
The other role of humans in disaster management is linked to mobilization (Haigh & Amaratunga, 2010; Edouna, Balgah, & Mbohwa, 2015). Generally, it is necessary to source for important materials needed by those who have been affected by the disaster. When proper media coverage is done for a natural disaster, several people will be reached and the better the outcome of the mobilization process. For example, during a tsunami, mobilization can be done to ensure that the victims receive support from donors and other well-wishers.
Humans also play an important role in the planning process (Chang et al, 2012; De Smet & Leysen, 2012). Since disasters are part of the earth system, proper planning is necessary to ensure that the disaster is properly managed. It is through planning for both the initial emergency and longer-term response that people ensure that they deal with natural disasters taking place in different parts of their country (Kusumasari, Alam and Siddiqui, 2010). With proper planning, it is true that the case of natural disaster can easily be handled and well managed on a timely basis. In most cases, it is the responsibility of the government, through concerned departments, to provide assistance to those affected by the natural disaster as part of their national disaster management program. In a situation where disaster has stricken it is clear that change takes place very fast and there is need for mandatory policies and procedures to require the modification of existing systems (Kondolf and Podolak, 2014). When humans are well prepared they have the best ability to rapidly adapt to all the applications and to keep pace with the evolving situation benefits and responses of the organization (Johnson et al, 2004).
According to Osman, Shahan, and Jahan (2015), human beings play an important role in developing the technology for understanding and if possible prevent the risks of natural disasters. The earth systems are very complex and require advanced technology to help the humans understand and manage the natural disasters. Such technology can be used by humans for critical infrastructure protection that help them to easily adapt to the possible disasters. Again, such respondents mostly rely on information and communication technology (ICT) that streamlines knowledge sharing optimizes collaboration among other organizations and situational analysis. The ICT that these human uses in managing natural disaster help in reducing the loss of life and property, reunite families and alleviate human suffering by ensuring that they provide first respondents with tools that are used for effective communication and collaboration (Pathirage et al, 2012). Additionally, such effective communication helps in making sure that knowledge sharing is well streamlined and human suffering is reduced through providing tools that are used in overcoming challenges posed by distance, diverse language and cultural differences.
Humans ensures that they use technology in times of disaster improvement as it helps them to manage information from multiple sources and collaborate effectively in terms of assisting survivors, mitigating damage and helping communities to rebuild (Burby et al, 2000). The ICT provides the framework for the disaster management process (Kim and Marcouiller, 2015). Due to such reasons, response organizations are making better use of the ICT to manage natural disasters. Technology allows for the identification and coordination of various processes during the disaster management. On the same note, technology facilitates the availability of various services and physical materials on the site of the disaster (Edouna, Balgah and Mbohwa, 2015). Due to such important efforts that are instilled in place, technology has proven to streamline many operations and make them more efficient in using their resources and responding quickly to natural disasters. However, technology cannot work alone. It has to be developed by the humans and controlled by the human beings during the disaster management process. Therefore, it is evident that humans have an important role to play in the natural disaster management.
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