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Eco-scope Bihar-Natural Disasters: Angry God or Plate Tectonics?

Eco-scope Bihar

Prof Ashok Kumar Ghosh

Natural Disasters: Angry God or Plate Tectonics?

By Prof Ashok Kumar Ghosh

The biggest natural disaster of this century amplified by anthropogenic activities hit Japan in March,2011 in the form of Earthquake followed by tsunami, followed by nuclear power plant radiation leaks .After taking stock of the impact of this disaster , Tokyo governor, Shintaro Ishihara, declared that the earthquake/tsunami/ reactor tripleheader was “divine punishment” for excess consumerism. We have to think today – why our stable world is suddenly cracking. We have to find answer – whether it is angry gods or plate tectonics leading to these fdisasters? But whatever the answer is, the number of natural disasters which has devastated our planet in recent times is a warning to all of us to change our life style. If we continue with our current life style and population growth is not controlled, we will require seven earths by the end of this century. Unfortunately we have only one earth till date, and no scientific breakthrough is expected to create any new earth in near future. Here is the list which all of us should take notice of:
1. Japan Earthquake

A tsunami wave washes away buildings in Sendai,Japan

Earthquake hit Japan in March; 2011.The earthquake was of magnitude 9.0 on Richter scale off the north-east coast of Japan, which was followed by a 15-20m high tsunami. The human cost was more than 10,000 dead and 17,000 missing. The economic cost was £ 189billion.

2. Brazilian Landslide

Cars sit in debris in a flooded street in Teresopolis, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

There was a major landslide in Brazil in January, 2011: Torrential rainstorms triggered mudslides in the mountainous Serrana region outside Rio de Janeiro, the worst natural disaster in the country’s history. The Human cost was 916 dead and 345 missing. The economic cost estimate was £ 187 million.

3. Australian Floods

A massive flood devastating Queensland,Australia

Australia was hit by massive flood in November 2010-January 2011. Queensland and Victoria was hit by floods of very high magnitude. The human cost was 37 dead and nine missing. The estimated economic cost was £ 19 billion. It was projected as Australia’s costliest natural disaster ever

4. New Zealand earthquake

Major quake to hit Christchurch, New Zealand

New Zealand was hit by earthquake in February, 2011: Earthquake was of magnitude 6.3 on Richter scale. It hit the city of Christchurch leading to major devastation. The estimated human cost was 166 dead and economic cost about £ 4.5-6.75billion.

5. Sri Lankan floods

A Sri Lankan man rides his motorbike along a flooded road in Kartivu

Sri Lanka was devastated by flood in January-February, 2011: Devastating floods hit the country due to excessive rainfall. There was more rain fell in Batticaloa than it normally gets in a year. The human cost was estimated at 62 dead and 1.1 million displaced. The Economic cost estimated at £300 million.

6.Burma earthquake

The Burma earthquake was felt in Chiang Rai

Burma was also hit by massive earthquake in March,2011. This earthquake was of magnitude 6.8 on Richter scale .The earthquake struck about 30 miles north of Tachileik on the Thai-Burma border.The estimated human cost was At least 75 dead and more than 110 injured. The economic cost is yet to be estimated.

7.Philippines floods

Heavy rain followed by flashfloods and landslides in the Philippines

Philippines was hit by strong flood in January-March, 2011.Heavy rains continued from December last year.The human cost was at least 75 dead and many enjured. The estimated economic cost was £ 27 million.

8. South Africa floods

The Vaal dam overflows near Johannesburg - Seven of South Africa's nine provinces have been affected by flooding

South Africa was hit by severe storm, lightening and floods in January,2011.The estimated human cost was 91 dead and 321 injured. The economic cost was £ 73 million.

According to Bill McKibben , an author and environmentalist “We’re now moving into a new geological epoch Anthropocene – a world remade by man, most obvious in his emissions of carbon dioxide. That CO2 traps heat near the planet that would otherwise have radiated back to space – there is, simply, more energy in our atmosphere than there used to be. And that energy expresses itself in many ways: ice melts, water heats, clouds gather. 2010 was the warmest year on record, and according to insurers – the people we task with totting up disasters – it demonstrated the unprecedented mayhem this new heat causes.”

I personally appeal to my fellow human beings living on planet earth to change their life style and limit their demands , so that our future generation may lead a healthy life on one and only one available earth.



Prof.  Ashok Kumar Ghosh is Professor-in-Charge in the department of Environment and Water Management, A.N.College [Magadh University], Patna, India.He writes a column on environment and water resources in Bihar, exclusively for BiharDays every Mondays.


2 Responses

  1. SP Narayan says:

    A good reading in summarised form. Yes, we need to stop / reduce excess consumerism and unnecessary / wasteful expenditure for things/ services/ facilities not required .

  2. ashutosh says:

    Bihar is full of tourist attractions also one of the important places in the annals of Indian history which has seen the rise and fall of major empires. With its historical past, there are many tourist destinations especially pilgrim centres in the state like Patna, Bodhgaya, Rajgir, sasaram, Vaishali and ruins of the the world famous, ancient university of Nalanda etc.

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