Natural disasters are essentially disasters caused by nature, outside of man’s control. They can happen all over the world, anywhere that humans (and arguably animals) live, to varying degrees. Sadly it is often the poorest countries that are hit worst by natural disasters, firstly because in climates more predisposed to such disasters, people are more likely to be in poverty anyway because of instability of the climate, but also because poorer countries also don’t have the infrastructure to deal with such disasters. A metal skyscraper will not be damaged as easily as a village full of mud huts, for example.
There is a range of natural disasters experienced by people living on planet earth. One of the most common is hurricanes, which are essentially violent storms (usually tropical cyclones) in which wind speeds reach over 74 miles per hour, and these speeds are sustained for some time. Even in highly developed countries, hurricanes often result in deaths, often due to trees failing on people or on their cars as they brave the weather. Many people’s properties are also often damaged during hurricanes. In less developed countries, it is common for houses or even whole villages to be flattened entirely, often with many more deaths. The heavy rain often accompanying the high winds often also causes flooding, which comes with problems of its own.
Another natural disaster in which damage is done by high winds is tornadoes, or twisters, which are very distinctive tall columns of air that whirls at destructively high speeds. They can be anything from a few metres across to a few miles, and move around of their own accord, damaging or destroying everything in their path.
Earthquakes are another common natural disasters. They are a very common occurrence across the world but many are so small that people do not even notice them, or they may only feel small tremors that are not strong enough to cause any damage or do anything other than be a little bit frightening. At their worst, though, earthquakes can cause huge levels of death and destruction and not always just in developing countries. Earthquakes are caused by the release of built up pressure under the earth’s crust, where rocks break and the plates that make up the surface of our planet move around.
Earthquakes can sometimes be even more damaging if they take place underwater and cause a tsunami, which is essentially a huge wave of water. Some of the most destructive and memorable natural disasters in the last few years have been tsunamis that have killed hundreds of thousands of people and displaced many more.
Volcanic eruptions are also a form of natural disaster and are some of our most memorable historical disasters, such as Pompeii. As well as the obvious danger of molten hot lava, the ash and dust created by an eruption can cause people and wildlife to suffocate. Other natural disasters which are sadly common but often not considered are droughts, which cause much death and illness in poor countries, and wildfires.