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# Impacts of Hazards

Hazards can have social, economic and environmental impacts on society. These include loss of life, injuries, and damage to infrastructure, businesses, and ecosystems. As you can imagine, these components are inevitably interlinked. For instance, the social issues resulting from the Black Saturday bushfires in Australia in 2009 have resulted in economic consequences. The projected lifelong costs of mental health issues have totalled $1,068bn, and the costs of chronic disease to$321m. The environmental damage has been projected to result in a total loss of $411m. ## What are the economic impacts of hazards? The economic impacts are caused by direct and indirect results of the hazards. Examples of economic impacts from direct results are the loss of property and infrastructure caused by an earthquake. Economic impacts from indirect results are negative consequences of gross domestic product growth, trade and opportunities. The 2010 volcanic activity of Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland had a massive economic impact. There was a loss of$10 million as millions of people had their travel affected.

Fig. 1 - The second fissure of the volcanic eruption at the Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland in 2010.

The economic impacts of tectonic hazards are heavily influenced by the time, geographic location and land area exposed to the hazard. Because of this, earthquakes tend to have a significantly larger economic impact in comparison to volcanoes, as volcanoes tend to be located close together in a smaller area of land, and fewer people live in these areas. Other important components which influence the economic impact of hazards are the level of development of the affected area and country, the level of insured and non-insured losses, the population affected and urbanisation.

## What are the social impacts of hazards?

Some of the social impacts of hazards are loss of life, injuries, and physical and psychological health issues. It often considers the aspects of the individuals within the affected community. For instance, New Orleans lost 20% of its population due to Hurricane Katrina. This was not due to deaths but because people migrated as a result of losing their homes.

## What are the environmental impacts of hazards?

The impacts of hazards on the environment include damage to or destruction of physical systems, particularly ecosystems. Several of the direct environmental damages caused by the 2011 tsunami in Japan include contamination of groundwater, desilting of coastal waterways and destruction of coastal ecosystems. Further indirect impacts include the environmental toll of reconstruction.

Fig. 2 - The 2011 Tōhoku earthquake in Japan was the most powerful earthquake ever recorded in Japan and the fourth most powerful one in the world since recording began in 1900. The earthquake led to a tsunami, with both events causing much damage and loss of life.

## Inequality and impacts of hazard

The Risk-Poverty Nexus Model and the Pressure and Release Model (PAR) demonstrate that inequality influences the amount of impact from hazards.

### The Risk-Poverty Nexus Model

The Risk-Poverty Nexus Model shows the strong link between poverty and the impacts of a hazard. Those in poverty are the most impacted by disasters and remain in poverty because of the disaster. Low-income households and communities are the most affected by the consequences of natural hazards in terms of income, housing, health and education and also receive the least aid in recovery. They also tend to have less access to insurance and social protection. All of this contributes to a reduction in their resilience.

These issues are rooted in social, economic and political inequalities. Due to the cost of housing, people in poverty are most likely to be living in areas with a higher risk of hazards with low-quality infrastructure. They also tend to have lower political influence and are likely to be marginalised.

### The Pressure and Release Model (PAR)

The Pressure and Release Model (PAR) demonstrates the intersection of the socioeconomic context and the impact of a hazard.

The model suggests that elements in the progression of vulnerability are divided into root causes, dynamic pressures and unsafe conditions. In addition to the natural hazard itself, these components apply pressure on people. Therefore, societies which are ineffectively governed, in poverty and have low coping capacity are more likely to be affected by the natural hazard. The model demonstrates that reducing vulnerability releases the amount of pressure to reduce the disaster.

## Influence of governance on impacts of hazards

Well-organised and strong governance has a significant influence in reducing the impacts of hazards. Governance does not just mean a single authority but a system of public, private and voluntary sectors that collectively make decisions associated with complex issues. As you’ve already understood, reducing poverty has a significant impact on reducing vulnerability. The different important aspects of governance comprise economic, political and administrative components, all of which are interlinked and need to be functioning for strong governance. All of these are required to reduce disaster risk.

Therefore, strong governance includes:

• Making decisions that encourage economic activity nationally and internationally.

• Keeping good relations with other countries and organisations in institutions such as the European Union (EU) to further improves economic activity and provides possibilities for receiving aid in disasters.

• Collaboratively creating policies that reduce the impact of natural hazards, such as policies and safety standards for urban planning and buildings. Examples of weak governance include encouraging people to settle in hazard-risk zones by building roads and housing in those areas.

• Monitoring the level of vulnerability.

• Implementation and use of information technology for easier communication between organisations and citizens. Applications can include the ability to message farmers about drought warnings and information on what to plant in preparation.

## Measuring the impact of hazards

The Mercalli scale measures the impact of an earthquake. It scales the observable damage caused by earthquakes between I and XII. For instance, level V is moderate and felt by everyone in a given area. Dishes, windows, and unstable objects will fall and break. It is subjective as it relies on general observation of the aftermath of the earthquake.

Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale
Scale levelGround conditions
I. Not feltIn general, nobody feels the shocks.
II. WeakOnly a handful of people, who are at rest, will feel the shocks. This will mostly be felt on the upper floors of buildings, and suspended objects may swing.
III. WeakFelt noticeably by people indoors, especially on the upper floors. It may not be recognised as an earthquake, with vibrations being similar to a passing truck.
IV. LightMore people indoors will notice it; outdoors, some might notice. Windows, doors and dishes will be disturbed, and walls may make cracking sounds. The sensations are similar to a heavy truck running into the building, and standing vehicles are noticeably rocking.
V. ModerateNearly everyone will feel it; windows and dishes can/will break, and unstable objects will fall over. Pendulum clocks may even stop.
VI. StrongEverybody will feel it. Heavy furniture can move, and plaster may fall. Damage is often slight.
VII. Very strongWell-built structures will have negligible damage; less well-built structures will have slight to moderate damage; poorly-built structures will suffer major damage. Motorists will also feel the shocks.
VIII. SevereSlight damage to specially designed structures; ordinary buildings will have considerable damage with potential partial collapses; severe damage to poorly-built structures, with structures such as chimneys and factory stacks collapsing. Heavy furniture will be overturned; well water changes; mud and sand are ejected in small amounts; motorists are disturbed.
IX. ViolentConsiderable damage to well-constructed buildings; severe damage to substantial buildings with potential partial collapses. Buildings are shifted off of their foundations, and liquefaction will occur. Underground pipes will break.
X. ExtremeA lot of buildings and other masonries will be left standing; bridges will be destroyed; above ground, broad fissures will erupt, while below ground, pipelines are completely destroyed and will be out of service. The earth will slump, and land will slip on soft ground. Rails are greatly bent.
XI. ExtremeComplete and total devastation. The waves can be seen on the ground's surface, and lines of sight and levels will be distorted. Objects will be thrown into the air.
Table 11

## Reducing the impact of hazards

Hazard impact can be reduced by increasing prediction, forecast, preparation of hazards and mitigation, response, and recovery of disasters. These are related to the vulnerability and resilience of the country/community. For instance, after the 2010 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, new mitigation strategies in Japan focus on evacuation and easy reconstruction instead of defence. The design of newer buildings allows the waves to pass through using large doorways and windows to minimise the possible damage and allow the citizen to flee to elevated grounds. Other strategies include warning systems, education on evacuation and providing hazard maps.

## Impacts of Hazards - Key takeaways

• Hazards can have social, economic and environmental impacts on society. These include loss of life, injuries, and damage to infrastructure, businesses, and ecosystems.
• Examples of economic hazard impacts are the loss of property and infrastructure directly caused by an earthquake. Some indirect impacts are negative consequences of gross domestic product growth, trade and opportunities.
• Some of the social impacts of hazards are the loss of life, injuries, and physical and psychological health issues.
• Environmental impacts of hazards include damage or destruction of physical systems, particularly ecosystems.
• The Risk-Poverty Nexus Model shows the strong link between poverty and the impacts of a hazard. Those in poverty are the most impacted by disasters and remain in poverty because of the disaster.
• The Pressure and Release Model (PAR) demonstrates the intersection of the socioeconomic context and the impact of a hazard.
• Well-organised and strong governance has a significant influence in reducing the impacts of hazards.
• The Mercalli scale measures the impact of the earthquake.
• The impact of hazards can be reduced by increasing prediction, forecast, preparation of hazards and mitigation, response, and recovery of disasters.

## References

1. Lisa Wald & Wendy Shindle. Magnitude vs Intensity. USGS Science for a changing world. October 2001 (rev. July 2004).
2. Fig. 1: The second fissure of the volcanic eruption at the Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland in 2010 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Fimmvorduhals_second_fissure_2010_04_02.JPG) by Boaworm (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Boaworm) Licensed by CC BY 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/deed.en)
3. Fig. 2: The 2011 Tōhoku earthquake in Japan was the most powerful earthquake ever recorded in Japan and the fourth most powerful one in the world since recording began in 1900. The earthquake led to a tsunami, with both events causing much damage and loss of life (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Devastation_after_tsunami_in_Rikuzentakata.jpg) by mitsukuni (https://www.flickr.com/people/8796575@N02) Licensed by CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en)

Impacts of hazard mean the social, economic and environmental influence on society that a natural physical phenomenon can have. These include loss of life, injuries, damage to infrastructure, businesses and the ecosystem.

No, for instance, earthquakes tend to have a significantly larger economic impact in comparison to volcanoes, as volcanoes tend to be located close together in a smaller area of land and fewer people live in these areas.

The impact of hazards can be reduced by increasing prediction, forecast, preparation of hazards and mitigation, response, recovery of disasters.

The observable damage caused by earthquakes is measured using the Mercalli scale. It focuses on specific locations and can be subjective.

Poverty and can affect the impacts of a hazard. Those in are in poverty are the most impacted by disasters and remain in poverty because of the disaster. Low-income households and communities are the most affected by the consequences of natural hazards in terms of income, housing, health and education and are also receiving the least aid in recovery. This reduces their resilience.

## Final Impacts of Hazards Quiz

Question

What are the common impacts of hazards?

These include loss of life, injuries, damage to infrastructure, businesses and the ecosystem.

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Question

What are some economic impacts caused by direct results of hazards?

Some direct impacts are the loss of property and infrastructure directly caused by an earthquake.

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Question

What are some economic impacts caused by indirect results of hazards?

Economic impacts from indirect results of hazards are negative consequences on gross domestic product growth, trade and opportunities.

Show question

Question

What is an example case study of the economic impacts of hazards?

An example is an economic impact as a result of the 2010 volcanic activity of Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland. There was a loss of \$10 million as millions of people had their travel affected.

Show question

Question

What are some social impacts of hazards?

Some of the social impacts of hazards are the loss of lives, injuries, physical and psychological health issues.

Show question

Question

What is an example case study of a social impact of hazards?

An example case study of a social impact of a hazard is that New Orleans lost 20% of the population due to Hurricane Katrina, this was not due to deaths but people forced to migrate as a result of losing their homes.

Show question

Question

What are the environmental impacts of hazards?

Environmental impacts of hazards include damage or destruction of physical systems, in particular ecosystems.

Show question

Question

What is an example case study of an environmental impact of hazards?

An example case study of the environmental impact of hazards is the environmental damages caused by the 2011 tsunami in Japan which includes contamination of groundwater, desilting of coastal waterways and destruction of coastal ecosystems. Further indirect impacts include the environmental toll of reconstruction.

Show question

Question

What does the Risk-Poverty Nexus Model show?

The Risk-Poverty Nexus Model shows the strong link between poverty and the impacts of a hazard.

Show question

Question

What does the Pressure and Release Model (PAR) show?

The Pressure and Release Model (PAR) demonstrates the intersection of the socio-economic context and the impact of a hazard. The model demonstrates that elements in the progression of vulnerability are divided into root causes, dynamic pressures and unsafe conditions. These components, in addition to the natural hazard itself, apply pressure onto the people.

Show question

Question

How does governance have an impact on vulnerability?

Well organised and strong governance has significant influence in reducing the vulnerability and therefore the impacts of hazards.

Show question

Question

What is the meaning of governance?

Governance does not just mean a single authority but a system of public, private and voluntary sectors that collectively make decisions associated with complex issues.

Show question

Question

What are the components of strong governance that decrease vulnerability?

Strong governance:

• Make decisions that encourage economic activity nationally and internationally.
• Keep good relations with other countries and organisations in institutions to further improve economic activity and provides possibilities for receiving aid in disasters.
• Collaboratively create policies that reduce the impact of natural hazards such as policies and safety standards for urban planning and buildings.
• Monitor the level of vulnerability.
• Implement and use of information technology for easier communication between organisations and citizens.

Show question

Question

What scale is used to measure the impact of earthquakes and what is it based on?

The Mercalli scale is used to measure the impact of the earthquake. It scales the observable damage caused by earthquakes between I and XII. It relies on general observation of the aftermath of the earthquake.

Show question

Question

How can the impacts of hazards be reduced?

The impact of hazards can be reduced by increasing prediction, forecast, preparation of hazards and mitigation, response, recovery of disasters. These are related to the vulnerability and resilience of the country/community.

Show question

Question

What are some examples of methods to reduce the impacts of hazards?

Examples of methods to reduce impacts of hazards include buildings designed to allow the waves to pass through using large doorways and windows, to minimise the possible damage and allow the citizen to flee to elevated grounds during Tsunamis. Other methods include warning systems, education on evacuation and providing hazard maps.

Show question

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