GLOBAL SECURITY THREATS
Natural disasters can happen at any time, anywhere around the world and can have devastating effects on the local population and on those who happen to be in the vicinity of the event, the surrounding areas, or the region itself.
Planning and preparing for a natural disaster or event is an important part of risk mitigation. It is also an integral part of ensuring a person's individual safety, the safety of an organisation, a business and its staff and the safety of property, assets and critical infrastructure when operating anywhere in the world.
Unpredictability is the nature of most natural hazards, events and disasters across the world. These life-threatening, confined or mass incidents, can happen without warning and can be devastating to the local population, those visiting, people or groups travelling through the area, travelling near to the event, or those in the immediate surrounding areas effected by their close proximity to the region involved.
A natural hazard is a threat of a naturally occurring event that can have a negative effect on anyone caught in this situation. This negative effect is considered a natural disaster, when the event subsequently causes harm to individuals and people directly involved. Natural hazards and the resulting disasters are the result of naturally occurring processes that can happen at any given time. Most hazardous events are geologic processes, that include, earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, landslides and subsidence. These can occur at any location around the world and can cause loss of life and property.
Non-geological events include floods, droughts, tropical cyclones, hurricanes, severe thunderstorms, lightning and tornados, that can happen in regions typically associated with these events, but still have a drastic effect on the population and area in general. Other hazards that do not fall into the categories above can include, disease epidemics, insect infestations and serious wildfires. Natural Hazards can also be divided into catastrophic hazards, these events have devastating consequences to large numbers of people, or have an effect that can have worldwide ramifications. Including, massive volcanic eruptions, world-wide disease epidemics, world-wide droughts and in the extreme, impacts from large space objects within populated areas. Such catastrophic hazards have a limited chance of occurring, but can have extremely devastating results if they occur.
Additionally, natural Hazards can also be divided into rapid onset hazards, these include, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, flash floods, landslides, severe lightning and thunderstorms, and wildfires, these develop quickly with little warning. Slow onset hazards, like drought, insect infestations, and disease epidemics can take years to develop, so require a level of situational awareness to be a high priority when travelling to any region effected.
Other hazards that occur as a result of human interaction with the environment, including, technological hazards - the exposure to hazardous substances. This can include asbestos, mercury, radioactive material, harmful dust and toxic smoke inhalation from fires. This category can also include other hazards that have a negative effect only through human interaction, such as acid rain, and contamination of the atmosphere or large bodies of water with harmful substances, as well as the potential consequences from global warming.
The effects of natural hazards and hazardous processes of all types can have a primary, secondary, and tertiary effect. Primary effects occur as a result of the process itself (i.e the collapse of a building during an earthquake, volcanic eruption, or flood). Secondary effects occur only because a primary effect has caused them (i.e a gas explosion or fires ignited in a collapsed building as a result of an earthquake). Tertiary effects are long-term effects that are set off as a result of a primary event (i.e the loss of habitat due to a flood or earthquake event). Vulnerability to hazards and disasters can depend on - the proximity to a potential hazard or event, the population density in the area near to the event, a lack of understanding of the hazards in the area, public education and awareness of the hazards, serviceability or existence of early-warning systems and lines of communication, availability and readiness of emergency services, the robustness of infrastructure construction and building codes and cultural factors that influence the public response to warnings.
In general, less developed countries are more vulnerable to natural hazards than more advanced countries, this can be because of lack of understanding, education, and the quality of the infrastructure and buildings in the area. Poverty also is an issue, as this leads to poor building structures, increased population density, and lack of infrastructure and communications to react to an event.
Hazard assessment and risk assessments are an important part of protecting people and ensuring their safety. Hazard assessments consist of determining when and where a hazardous process has occurred in the past, the severity of the effects of past hazardous processes, the frequency of occurrence of hazardous processes, the likely effects of a process if it were to occur and disseminating this information to the responsible persons making the decisions during or after an event or disaster.
Risk assessments involve the assessment of hazards and also the impact of a hazardous event to a person, group or structure. Risk is a statement of probability that an event will cause a determined level of damage, or a statement of the impact in monetary terms that an event will cause. The risk assessment involves the location of buildings, highways, and other infrastructure in the areas subject to hazards potential exposure. It includes the effects of a hazardous situation and the vulnerability of the persons or groups involved, when subjected to the effects of the event. The risk assessments objective is to aid decision makers, compare and evaluate potential hazards, set priorities on what kinds of mitigation is possible and set priorities on where to focus resources and further action in a crisis event.
All of these hazards and events have been happening throughout history, but due to the increased population of the world and a more globalised world in general, more people may be directly, or indirectly effected by these hazardous during their lifetime.
Risk is an inherent part of being exposed to natural hazards and is characteristic of the association between people and natural events. Risks from natural hazards can in some cases be understood and while the risks involved cannot be eliminated, they can be considered, planned for and minimised. Resulting in a positive outcome if caught within the event's centre or near to the region of an event.
To do this, there needs to be an understanding about the processes and dangers associated with these hazards, and understand the risks in the area and country being visited, travelling through, or residing in. Then, an assessment can be conducted and an action plan can be developed to minimise the risk. Such minimisation of risk is hazard mitigation.