When Disasters Strike Part 2

| October 17, 2013 |

Nuclear Disaster

Unfortunately some life altering disasters are man-made. They may be even more devastating than natural disasters because we’re often accustomed to the natural ones. The man-made disasters can catch us completely unawares and often have no contingency plan for dealing with them.

1. Climate Change

One area that many people say is largely a man-made issue is climate change. The ozone layer is the portion of the Earth’s atmosphere that protects the planet by absorbing much of the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Since the ozone layer has gotten progressively thinner over the years we now experiencing a change in weather and the seasons. This means that natural disasters that weren’t common in some areas of the world are starting to happen. For example, there have been tornadoes in the northeast section of the United States which isn’t typically an area for tornadoes. Two other areas of concern are the glaciers at the north and south poles. These glaciers have been melting at a higher than normal rate which means that the oceans and other bodies of water around the world are taking on water at a higher than normal rate. This increases instances of flooding in many areas. It also changes the weather patterns as the poles begin to dry up and the water rushes back to the rest of the world. Climate change is a major concern because the changes are happening somewhat gradually and it’s tough to determine exactly what could go wrong.

Financial System Breakdown

Man-made disasters can occur just by a vital system breaking down. If the financial system ever suffered a full blown breakdown that would cause a disaster that may take a long time to correct. If you’ve ever watched the stock market, you would know that the markets are so linked that one country can have a market crash and it will negatively affect several other countries almost immediately. Because the economy of each country is so involved in the economies of other countries, the financial system isn’t very grounded. In some cases, it can be as fragile as a house of cards. If one card in the house falls apart, the whole house could come crashing down. If The US government defaults on it’s loans, the world as we know it will implode.

Killer Robots

There have been some great advancements in computers and computer systems in the last five years. These advancements have definitely spilled over to the area of robotics. As robots are being created with more and more intelligence, we run the risk of those robots developing their own agendas. If this happens they could decide that they’re the superior race and aim to eradicate humans. Or robots could be created by an individual or organization to harm certain people. If these robots had a glitch of any kind, the situation could turn into a disaster. There have been horror movies crafted around the killer robot scenario but those ideas aren’t just science fiction. With our computers becoming smarter, it’s slowly on the way towards becoming a scientific fact.


In 1979, China instituted a one child policy that penalized families for having more than one child. This policy was created as a way to control the population of China. While their tactics were a bit extreme, their reasoning was logical. They wanted to manage the population growth to ensure that they’d be able to properly care for the people who live in China. As the population continues to increase all over the world, some think that all of these people on a planet with limited resources could lead to worldwide starvation.

Hazardous Materials

There are many industrial plants, buildings and locations with an abundance of hazardous materials. Either these materials are being created specifically by these places or they’re a byproduct of something else. Regardless, there are places full of hazardous materials and it’s always possible that those materials will escape into the population at large and have a negative effect on anyone or anything that comes into contact with them. Typically these places have a plan for how the people that work in them will deal with the materials should they end up outside of their designated areas. However, if they get out into the general population, it can turn into a disaster situation fairly quickly.

EMP Attack

If an electromagnetic pulse suddenly struck the US it would cause a long term blackout. Most people are prepared to handle short term blackouts. But what if a blackout lasted for days, weeks or longer. In these cases, a disaster situation can occur. We depend so much on electricity to live our daily lives that going for long periods without it will definitely call for some major re-working of our lives.

Nuclear Blast

In spite of the controversial nature of nuclear energy there are still plants actively in use in various places all over the world. These plants are dangerous not just because of the materials they house but also the negative attitudes towards them. People have gone to great lengths to see these plants shut down because they’re “wrong” and dangerous but they may decide to take dangerous actions themselves. Even if a nuclear plant is shut down, there is no foolproof way to properly dispose of nuclear material. A nuclear accident is imminent at all times when dealing with any type of nuclear plant. Fukushima anyone?

Chemical Threat and Biological Weapons

Chemical threats refer to agents that are poisonous vapors, aerosols, liquids and solids that have toxic or deadly effects on people, animals or plants. These chemicals can be released by bombs or sprayed by devices in aircrafts, watercrafts or automobiles. They can also be released through a variety of devices depending on the level of knowledge and ingenuity of the person wanting to spread the chemical. The signs of a chemical release include people having difficulty breathing, eye irritation, loss of coordination, nausea or a burning sensation in the nose, throat and lungs. The presence of many dead insects or birds in a concentrated area may also indicate a chemical threat.

Biological weapons are organisms or toxins that can kill or incapacitate people, animals or plants. They differ from chemical threats because they’re not chemical. Biological weapons are when natural substances are used as weapons. There are three agents that can be used as biological weapons; viruses, bacteria and toxins. These weapons are dispersed or spread via aerosols, animals, food, water and people.

Cyber Attacks

Cyber-attacks are a fairly new form of disaster but as our society becomes more digitally based, the possibility of a cyber-attack increases greatly. A cyber-attack is when an individual or organization uses the internet to launch an attack on individuals, organizations, companies or institutions. If you stop and think, most of our day to day lives are managed by computers in some way. If someone decided to use a cyber-attack to negatively affect an entire population, it’s very possible and probably. For example, if someone decides to hack into the electrical grid, which is run by computers, that could shut down the electricity in an area. If this happens, that area would essentially be plunged into the dark ages. The loss of electricity is a major disaster that could cause someone to have to live off the land and scavenge for food and supplies. Because so much of our society is run by computers of some kind, a cyber-attack could easily cause another disaster like a nuclear accident.

Engineered Diseases

Diseases represent a natural and man-made disaster that could strike the human population. While there are some diseases that can be used as weapons, there are others that just happen in nature. These diseases can mutate and develop into something that mankind has never dealt with before. Over the years, large sections of the human population have been wiped out by disease. The bubonic plague, pneumonic plague and septicemic plague are three of the major plagues that have struck and killed a lot of people at one time. The thing about plagues is that they often strike without warning and tend to take time to get under control.

In recent years, pandemics have become more commonplace. A pandemic is when an infectious disease affects a specific region of the world. This can happen because of a naturally occurring disease or a man-made disease that escapes into the human population. Because so many people travel internationally on a regular basis, a pandemic can quickly become a national epidemic. Bird flu is an example of a naturally occurring disease that scientists mutated into another version of the virus while doing experiments on it. If that virus had gotten into the population, it could have quickly escalated from a pandemic to an epidemic.

Fungus and Bacteria

Many people worry about viruses like the different flu viruses that can crop up every year but bacteria and fungus can be just as deadly as a virus. If a type of bacteria became an issue, the antibiotics that we typically use to treat them may not work if it’s a new strain. That bacteria could do a lot of damage before it’s gotten under control. Fungi are even less predictable. Many scientists and medical professionals haven’t had an opportunity to really study fungal infections. A fungal infection could wipe out a good bit of the population before we figure out how to treat it.

These are just some of the natural and man-made disasters that can happen and bring sudden change to your way of life. If you are not prepared, you’ll be completely caught off guard. That can go a long way towards whether you survive the disaster or not. Not being prepared makes you vulnerable in a lot of ways. If you’re lucky to survive the initial disaster, a lack of preparedness could mean not surviving the post disaster situation. It can also mean being forced to make a lot of tough decisions to ensure your survival. It’s best to err on the side of caution and prepare before a disaster. Since it’s virtually impossible to know when a disaster will strike, preparation should begin now.

Category: Natural Disasters

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