Global epidemics and impact of cholera Global epidemics Man-made and natural disasters can intensify the risk of epidemics considerably, as can conditions in crowded refugee camps. Explosive outbreaks with high case-fatality rates are often the result. For example, in the aftermath of the Rwanda crisis inoutbreaks of cholera caused at least 48 cases and 23 deaths within one month in the refugee camps in Goma, the Congo. Although rarely so deadly, outbreaks continue to be of major public health concern, causing considerable socioeconomic disruption as well as loss of life.
Appendix A Environmental Impacts of Natural Disasters It is recognized that many significant nonmarket effects result from natural disasters, including environmental impacts. Though our committee had a keen interest in these topics, it became clear that these impacts—though often significant—did not fit easily with this study's main report and conclusions for the following reasons: Though there are emerging efforts in quantifying and monetizing ecosystem services e.
Nonetheless, the magnitude of the environmental impacts of many disasters compelled the committee to discuss them and we do so in this Appendix. Though no specific recommendations regarding how environmental costs should be incorporated in loss estimates we provide here, we encourage policymakers in the relevant executive branch agencies to devote more attention and perhaps research to these issues.
It is important in assessing environmental impacts to distinguish between impacts of disasters on the natural environment from those on the human-made landscape environment. As mentioned, events that societies label as natural ''disasters" may also have beneficial ecological consequences.
However, these benefits tend to only manifest themselves months or years after an extreme event e. These benefits to ecological systems are of course typically overshadowed by immediate, negative impacts on societies and structures; hence, the use of the term natural "disasters.
Page 56 Share Cite Suggested Citation: Environmental Impacts of Natural Disasters. The Impacts of Natural Disasters: A Framework for Loss Estimation. The National Academies Press. First, although the more tangible, quantifiable damages of extreme events to infrastructure and economies may be difficult to calculate precisely, the costs to and benefits for natural ecosystems—even from such apparently straightforward impacts as numbers of fish killed or trees destroyed—are even less tangible and may be nearly impossible to quantify precisely.
Moreover, even if the physical effects can be measured, the monetary values of those impacts cannot be stated with precision.
Second, existing ecological systems have already adapted in many respects to the forces created by extreme events, such as floods or droughts. This process is lengthy, extending over thousands of years and involving the evolution of species and complex physical systems.
The effects of geophysical extremes often are not undesirable. For example, major natural disturbances, such as fires or floods, rejuvenate old forests.
The critical factors are the frequency, intensity, and extent of natural disturbances. If disturbances occur too frequently and over large areas, then only pioneering, short-lived, and opportunistic species survive. If disturbances occur too infrequently, then slower-growing, superior competitors for light, water, and nutrients replace the pioneers.
Maximum diversity is maintained by an intermediate level of disturbance, so that patches of pioneers and superior competitors alike occur within the landscape.
All of this suggests that attempts to eliminate natural disturbances rather than attempts to mitigate their adverse impacts can be counterproductive and in some cases, as in the and floods on the Mississippi River and the Yellowstone fires incan make a disaster worse. For example, some thinning of tree branches caused by high winds or ice accumulations from winter storms can allow for subsequent stronger tree development, and studies of the flood in the Midwest revealed major ecological benefits in the immersed floodplains.
To the average human observer, floodplain forests appear to change scarcely at all from year to year, and therefore the death of trees during or after a major flood seems 2 The severe damage from the flood on the lower Mississippi River and in in the Upper Mississippi basin could have been substantially reduced if levees bordering the river had neither failed nor been overtopped, and if other forms of mitigation had been adopted.Cleanup activities related to returning to homes and businesses after a disaster can pose significant health and environmental challenges.
People can be exposed to potentially life-threatening hazards from leaking natural gas lines, and carbon monoxide poisoning from using un-vented fuel-burning.
Natural disasters can have a life-altering impact on the individuals and families fortunate enough to survive them. But the effect of natural disasters can be felt at the community, city and state level, or many times can impact an entire country.
By the world-renowned seismologist, a riveting history of natural disasters, their impact on our culture, and new ways of thinking about the ones to come. Exploring the latest in scientific discoveries from prehistoric life to missions to Mars.
dents living along the Gulf Coast.4,6, However, the level of impact varied across the spectrum. Negative mental health impacts were most common in peo-ple whose work, family, or leisure life was impacted.
Human Factors and the Severity of Natural Disasters There are several human factors that influence the severity of a natural disaster.
Even within the same region, different people have different levels of vulnerability to natural hazards.