To What Extent Can Preparedness and Disaster Planning Mitigate the Effects of Earth Hazards? Essay

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Whittow in 1980 defines a hazard as a “perceived natural event which has the potential to threaten both life and property, and a disaster is the realisation of this hazard.” Earth hazards can therefore include all natural events including earthquakes, volcanoes, flooding and mass movement. Due to the very nature of these events “mitigating” (measures taken to reduce the impacts of a hazard beforehand) can be more successful for hazards such as volcanoes which are arguably more predicable than earthquakes and flash flooding. Despite the advances over the past few decades there is no “magic bullet” (Dr Charles Connor) in earth hazard prediction, and therefore mitigation – and the success remains very much dependent upon a number of factors including money available, and the number of vulnerable individuals. Firstly, earthquakes, which are caused by sudden movements of the earths crust which result in violent shaking, liquefaction, and in extreme cases tsunamis, can to an extent be prepared for and mitigated for, and this is where money is being channelled into. Preparation and planning involves the retrofitting of buildings to create “earthquake-resistant” societies, aseismic design features (including concrete and steel frames to provide stability), as well as planning exclusion zones and evacuation routes in the case of an earthquake. Earthquake prediction is very closely linked to preparedness as if an event is expected; mitigating measures can take place beforehand to reduce the impacts. The earthquake storm theory which suggests that stress is transferred along a fault with each earthquake has predicted an earthquake to hit Izmit, Turkey, an extremely densely populated urban area. Consequently, the Turkish government are now channelling money into retrofitting buildings an enforcing them in order to prevent them turning into “death traps” when an earthquake

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