Disasters come in many shapes and sizes. Some are caused by natural hazards such as hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, or earthquakes. Others are caused by the actions of society, such as climate change and global warming. Disasters are events that cause the destruction of property or result in injury and death over a widespread area.
No one is immune from disasters. Everyone will experience the impact of at least one disaster in their lifetime. In an average year, over 150,000 people are killed as the result of disasters. The cost of disasters to society is steadily increasing. In the United States, disasters caused between $25 billion to $50 billion annually. Losses due to disasters on a global basis are increasing due to the exponential growth in population. Loss of life can be extremely high in the developing countries because the reduction in resource availability has caused people to live in marginal areas where the occurrence of disasters are more frequent and occur with a greater degree of severity. Economic losses in the developed countries can be staggering, but the loss of life is often low.
In order to understand how disasters affect society, a multidisciplinary approach to their study must be taken because several factors have to be considered. We must know the basic physical processes that trigger a disaster. We must be knowledgeable of the history of the occurrence of different types of disasters. We must understand why people live in disaster prone environments. We must consider how people react to the occurrence of a disaster. We must understand how people, individually and collectively, attempt to protect themselves and their property form disasters.
Disasters – Living on the Edge uses a multidisciplinary approach to the study of disasters. We explore the interactions between the environment and society that lead to catastrophe. Case studies examine the reactive and proactive mechanisms used by people to cope with disastrous events. Online sources of information from federal and state agencies as well as other sources serve as our basis of study.
UW Colleges Catalog Course Description for GEO 170/GLG 170: Disasters – Living on the Edge - 4 credits: Study of various environmental hazards, their causes, impacts on humans, and mitigations. Core topics are natural hazards (earthquakes, volcanoes, flooding, landslides, tornadoes, hurricanes), and anthropogenic hazards (climate change/global warming, nuclear hazards, and overpopulation). Additional topics may be covered: coastal hazards, pollution of groundwater, air, soil, and water, other atmospheric hazards (extreme weather, droughts), impacts from space, extinctions, biohazards, chemical hazards, and terrorism. May not be taken for credit by students who have had GLG 169 or GLG 135. NS, LS
Successful completion of this course will enhance the student's ability to:
By completing this course, students will:
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