Natural Versus Human-Made Disasters

Natural Versus Human-Made Disasters

Disasters, for the most part, occur without warning and can have devastating effects. Forces of nature and geological shifts in the earths inner core can instantaneously alter the lives of individuals and entire communities. When this happens, the cause of the event can be scientifically explained. Sometimes disasters are not natural events. Consider instances where human action caused the disaster. What if entire neighborhoods are destroyed by fire as a result of an incompetent firefighter? What if a pilot is given landing clearance on too short an airstrip, crashes into a gas station, and creates an explosion that kills 186 people? What if the lack of effective road and bridge maintenance leads to an unnoticed structural error that later results in the collapse of a populated bridge in a busy city? These examples lead to the following truism: The etiology of an event can impact the response of the survivor.

To prepare for this Discussion:

Review Chapter 17 in your course text, Crisis Intervention Strategies, focusing on the effects of and interventions for natural and human-made disasters.

Review the article, Confronting the Realities of Volunteering for a National Disaster,paying particular attention to the effects of a natural disaster.

Review the media program, Crisis in the Nation and the World: Natural and Human-Made Disasters. Consider the effects of a natural disaster versus those of a human-made disaster.

Think about similarities and differences in effects and interventions between natural and human-made disasters.

With these thoughts in mind:

Post by Day 4 two similarities and two differences between natural and human-made disasters in terms of the effects of and interventions for each. Then, explain any insights you had or conclusions you drew with regard to your role as a counselor based on the comparison.

Natural versus Human made disasters

In the recent past, the world has experienced both natural and human made calamities. To some extent, it is easy to differentiate a natural calamity from an artificial disaster; on the other hand, natural calamity may occur as a result of human activity over a long period. It is difficult to determine whether a sudden climatic condition is either natural or artificial calamity due to the carbon emission in the atmosphere because of human activity over decades. In other instances, natural calamities trigger events which eventually lead to human made disasters such as the tsunami that led to Fukushima Daiichi disaster in Japan (Eisler, 2013). On one hand, response to both natural and artificial has been unified and selfless while, on the other hand, political reasons have affected the response of some nations towards the calamities. The response of medical practitioners and counselors after these disasters is an important aspect of ensuring that the victims do not suffer from post traumatic disorder (Aguilera, 1998).

Intervention strategies employed especially towards the victims of the tragedies range from physical to mental. The immediate response is usually to save as many lives as possible during a disaster. The Haiti earthquake is among the most recent natural disasters that left over 200,000 people dead and a great loss of property. Due to the poor financial and logistical position of the country, effects such as Cholera outbreak followed immediately after the earthquake. It took the intervention of the international community to save the country from total collapse. Medical practitioners and crisis intervention strategists should have predicted and prepared for such an event. Unfortunately, for reasons mentioned above, medical aid and counselors could not reach the people in time and help the devastated people prepare for the disaster.

In 2011, Japan suffered from one of the worst man made calamities in recent times (Eisler, 2013). The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster triggered by a tsunami led to a great loss of property and some of its effects are being felt today. Analysts claim that the radiation released during the nuclear meltdown could reach the United States over time. The response of the international community was also unified. The people who suffered during that event may easily turn against their government if the counselors are not deployed quickly to deal with them. Japan being an adequately prepared country and, also, with the help of international partners was able to put most of the affected people in medical facilities for treatment of post traumatic disorder (Aguilera, 1998).

One fundamental difference between natural calamities and man-made disasters is the ability of humans to predict, prevent, and handle the situation. Most artificial calamities are easily prevented and handled but rarely predicted. On the other hand, natural calamities are easily predicted but rarely can humans prevent them from happening. Hurricanes, forest fires, and volcanic eruptions are regularly predicted but rarely do the humans have the capacity to prevent them from happening. Predictability helps save lives but in some cases the loss of life is inevitable. Hurricane Katrina is an example of a natural disaster that was predicted in time, but little could be done to ensure that there was neither loss of life nor property (Richardson, Gordon & Moore, 2008). Though the US administration had the necessary organizations and financial ability to deal with the crisis, it found itself overwhelmed by the events and there was much loss of life (Richardson, Gordon & Moore, 2008).


Aguilera, D. (1998). Crisis intervention (1st ed.). St. Louis, Mo.: Mosby.

Eisler, R. (2013). The Fukushima 2011 disaster (1st ed.). Boca Raton: CRC Press.

Richardson, H., Gordon, P., & Moore, J. (2008). Natural disaster analysis after Hurricane Katrina (1st ed.). Cheltenham, U.K.: Edward Elgar.

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