NWDMAN-MADEWorst Man-Made Disasters: Human Activities Can Have an Impact on Natural Disasters

Worst Man-Made Disasters: Human Activities Can Have an Impact on Natural Disasters

man made disasters

Man lives in a world that can constantly give him unpleasant surprises. The most common one is bad weather. But there are also more serious problems. They “break” our cities and take people’s lives. Some people think it won’t affect them, but it does. It’s good if it turns out to be something temporary, but some people spend their lives cleaning up the consequences. I suggest that we remember the worst man-made disasters on our planet.

Let’s remember how they happened, how many people died, and what this should teach us. I’ll bet you haven’t even heard of some of the disasters we are going to tell you about. It seems that a disaster must involve explosions, destruction, collapse, and other “special effects.” That’s not entirely true. Sometimes the shortsightedness of scientists or the inattention of ordinary people can claim millions of lives. Let’s find out how human activities can have an impact on natural disasters!

The Worst Man-Made Disasters in US History

You may remember that the characters in the movie Interstellar, before leaving Earth in search of a new planet, constantly encountered large-scale dust storms. This is by no means fiction. The inhabitants of the Great Plains, USA had to live in such conditions in the 1930s. For many years, local farmers had been farming extensively, devastating the land, and when the 1930s brought a period of drought, dust storms came with them. At times, they blocked the sky for days, in some places the dust on the ground was as thick as snow, and the plainsmen had to shovel it away. Storms even carried the dust to the east coast of the United States. The strongest of them all occurred on April 14, 1935.

The day was dubbed “Black Sunday” and the entire region was nicknamed “the dust bowl”. This human-caused environmental accident caused about half a million of the region’s residents to lose their homes, and a total of 2.5 million people left the region. In addition, dust pneumonia spread across the Great Plains, killing hundreds to thousands of people, according to various estimates.

Chinese Natural Disasters Caused by Humans

worst man made disasters

Sparrows caused an estimated 10 to 30 million deaths in China between 1958 and 1961. The cause of the deaths was famine, which in turn caused mass extermination of sparrows. At the time, environmental policy in China was to control certain types of pests that were spoiling or eating the grain supply. Such pests included rats, flies, mosquitoes, and sparrows. Scientists and agronomists confirmed that sparrows alone were losing annually the amount of grain that could feed at least thirty-five million people for a year. As a result, on March 18, 1958, a plan to control these birds was developed.

The local population was instructed to keep them off the land. Peasants ran after them, pounding their buckets with sticks. As a result, in 15 minutes the exhausted birds fell to the ground dead. So it was estimated that about two billion sparrows were destroyed. In the end, there was indeed more grain, but after a while, there was an explosive increase in the number of caterpillars and other insects that the sparrows had previously eaten. And after a while, the grain became so scarce that it led to mass starvation and caused millions of deaths. That is how human activities can have an impact on natural disasters and people’s deaths.

Aircraft Collision at Los Rodeos Airport

Tenerife airport disaster

We want to continue with our list of man-made disasters with this terrible event. This accident did not take as many lives as the famine in China, but it is one of the most serious transport accidents and the most serious collision of two planes. It happened on March 27, 1977, in the Canary Islands (Tenerife).

human activities can have an impact on natural disasters
The burnt-out wreckage of Pan Am 1736 litters the Los Rodeos runway

The accident killed 583 people, both crew members of the colliding aircraft and most of the passengers. There were a total of 644 people on the two planes. The most interesting thing is that the collision of the planes was indirectly caused by a terrorist attack at another airport.

The terrorist attack took place at Las Palmas airport. No one was killed in the explosion, but the airport was closed just in case, to avoid the risk of repeated explosions. As a result, all planes were diverted to the already busy Los Rodeos airport, where the collision occurred.

The Bhopal Man- Made Disaster

natural disasters caused by humans

One of the world’s deadliest environmental disasters is considered to be the Bhopal disaster in India. On night December 2-3, 1984, there was an accident at a local chemical plant, which resulted in 42 tons of the poisonous chemical methyl isocyanate being released into the atmosphere. The immediate cause of the tragedy was an accidental release of methyl isocyanate vapors, which in the plant tank heated above boiling point, resulting in an increase in pressure and rupture of the emergency valve.

The cloud of poison instantly covered nearby slums and the train station. The high population density, the lack of trained medical personnel, and the wind, which swiftly carried the chemical through the city, all played their fatal role in the scale of the tragedy.

human caused environmental accident

Within hours, four thousand people were killed. Another 14,000 died of chemical poisoning in subsequent years. Chemical and atomic disasters are some of the worst types of manmade disasters, as no one can predict the consequences. The exact cause of the tragedy, despite numerous investigations, cannot yet be determined.

A little quiz from our blog. Answer the question: which of the following human activities can increase the risks of flooding?

  • cultivation and agrarian activities;
  • widening of rivers;
  • planting and cutting down trees;
  • soil management.
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