Assess the view that most natural disasters are the result of human activity.

Question analysis-definition of key terms

Natural disaster: Floods, landslides, tsunami,

Human activity: Deforestation, increasing urbanization, the pursuit of economic growth and the refusal to use environmentally friendly products

Assumption: Natural disasters today are on a very frequent and common basis, so much so that it is not seen to be in the natural state of things. Also, our impact on the environment is said to be more damaging and more exponential compared to before, resulting in these natural disasters.

This is a very simple and straightforward question for this year. Students just need to know the reasons and origins for the occurrence of natural disasters. They should attribute some of the reasons to man-made reasons and some to the natural state of how things are. I would expect most of the geography students to be doing this question due to their expertise.

Yes most natural disasters are man-made

  1. Our human-related activity and our growing reliance on technology, and increasing levels of pollution actually leads to greater occurrence of natural disasters. A case in point would be the London Great Smog of 1952, where the city was overly polluted and covered in smog due to the rapid industrialization. It blanketed the whole street and killed at least 4000 people. Another instance would be the dust bowl, where decades of farming without bothering to rotate crops actually lead to the depletion of the top soil. It was considered one of the biggest ecological disaster in the history of the US, where dust storms consumed the entire communities from the South to the Midwest, forcing a lot of people to relocate in the process.
  2. Most natural disasters today like floods and landslides are actually the making of human activities such as repeated construction and drilling of the land. Singapore is one nation that is relatively blessed not to have any natural disasters, however in recent years, she has been plauged with some flooding. A lot of these flooding have been attributed to the rapid construction that she has been doing over the years, especially in terms of building MRT. It is also arguable that the tsunami in Japan was caused by man actions of negligence over the nuclear reactor plants rather than just nature activity in itself.

No they are not due to man’s actions

  1. A lot of natural disasters are still due to the earth’s mechanism rather than man actions themselves. For instance, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are due to the earth’s tectonic movements and seismic activities. Of course, it is undeniable that underground mining is able to affect and cause instability that results in these earthquakes.

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7 Comments

  • David

    I said that human activity exacerbate the effects of natural disasters. (Ok, geography student here) I added in hurricanes and mentioned how global warming has fueled the temperature difference, generating increasing number of powerful hurricanes.

    • Christine Chen

      yes cool, i do agree with you that human activity definitely exacerbates the effect. I see that you have made good use of your geography knowledge here.

    • Christine Chen

      you could, but this isn’t the main thing for the essay, so focusing too much on this would be out of topic. Just for mention would be fine.

  • bgaja

    hi can i mention how commendable efforts like the kyoto protocol failed due to lack of human efforts and carbon emmsion continued to increase exponentially hence global warming and this shows how humans can impact the environment?

    • Christine Chen

      yes you could possibly discuss how human activity can lead to global warming, but you need to make the link to what kind of natural disasters global warming cause. Failure of Kyoto protocol and increase carbon emission no doubt leads to environmental degradation, but you have to link it to natural disasters.

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