Man-Made Disasters
Some Disasters that Appear to be Natural are Not



 
Man-Made Disasters
Some Disasters that Appear to be Natural are Not

 
Human impact on the environment or anthropogenic impact on the environment includes impacts on biophysical environments, biodiversity and other resources.

The term anthropogenic designates an effect or object resulting from human activity. 





Man-made earthquakes? Tornadoes caused by U.S. cities? Volcanoes activated by humans? NGC examines how efforts to harness natural resources can trigger natural disasters.

Watch how a Chinese dam weighing as much as 3,000 Empire State Buildings caused tremors that claimed the lives of 90,000 people. Witness how another dam could trigger mudslides that bury millions.

Investigate how growing urban areas can cause tornadoes and how mining and drilling have activated deadly mud volcanoes.


Human impact on the environment or anthropogenic impact on the environment includes impacts on biophysical environments, biodiversity and other resources. The term anthropogenic designates an effect or object resulting from human activity.

The term was first used in the technical sense by Russian geologist A. P. Pavlov, and was first used in English by British ecologist Arthur Tansley in reference to human influences on climax plant communities.

The atmospheric scientist Paul Crutzen introduced the term "anthropocene" in the mid-1970s.

The term is sometimes used in the context of pollution emissions that are produced as a result of human activities but applies broadly to all major human impacts on the environment.


Human impact on biodiversity is significant, humans have caused the extinction of many species including the dodo and perhaps even many of the large megafaunal species during the last ice age.

Though most experts agree that human beings have accelerated the rate of species extinction, the exact degree of this impact is unknown, perhaps 100 to 1000 times the normal background rate of extinction.

Some authors have postulated that without human interference the biodiversity of this planet would continue to grow at an exponential rate.


Some man-made disasters have been particularly notable for the high costs associated with responding to and recovering from them, including:
  • Chernobyl disaster, 1986: $15 billion estimated cost of direct loss. It is estimated that the damages could accumulate to €235 billion for Ukraine and €201 billion for Belarus in the thirty years following the accident

  • Three Mile Island, 1979: $1 billion

  • September 11 attacks, 2001: $20.7 billion

  • Exxon Valdez oil spill, 1989: The clean-up of oil spill cost an estimated $2.5 billion; recovery for settlements, $1.1 billion; and the economical loss (fisheries, tourism, etc) suffered due to the damage to the Alaskan ecosystem was estimated at $2.8 billion

  • AZF chemical plant explosion, 2001: €1.8 billion

  • Deepwater Horizon oil spill, 2010: Between $60 and $100 billion

The costs of disasters varies considerably depending on a range of factors, such as the geographical location where they occur.

When a disaster occurs in a densely-populated area in a wealthy country, the financial damage might be huge, but when a comparable disaster occurs in a densely-populated area in a poorer country, the actual financial damage might relatively small, in part due to a lack of insurance.

For example, the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami (although obviously not man-made) with a death toll of over 230,000 people, cost a 'mere' $15 billion, whereas the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, in which 11 people died, the damages were six-fold.