The paper 'Managing the Unexpected' is a perfect example of an Environmental Studies Case Study. For the purposes of this paper, we shall construe disasters as serious disruptions of the proper functioning of any society and whose consequences are widespread human, environmental and material losses that exceed the momentary ability of such an affected society to adequately cope. In most cases, the repercussions of a disaster are overwhelming on a society’ s own resources to a point where external assistance becomes crucial especially in humanitarian, and infrastructural recovery (Goldstein, 1990).
As shall be discussed in the paper, disasters are complex events that we can only gamble in anticipating, managing, controlling, and responding to. The duration of a disastrous event can be seconds long to a number of years. The same goes for severity; the severity of a disaster in its damaging effects varies in degrees. Some disasters are completely unpredictable and unpreventable (Remember Katrina? ). Others though are consequent to man’ s creation of a habitat that is susceptible to disastrous damage or an environment in which both property and life are at a great level of risk (The unforgettable nuclear installation leak in Germany for instance). Complexity of Disasters Disasters become complicated when one begins to look for a universally applicable theory to their causes and appropriate responses.
What works for one type of disaster, however, rarely works in another. To elaborate on this unique complexity of formulating disaster theorems there is a need to inspect the underlying causes of disasters. Some deep-rooted factors in society may complement in forming and maintaining that society’ s vulnerability to disasters. Train disasters in India are almost a given, consequent to the poor maintenance of the engines, overcrowding, and poorly designed routes in some areas (Buchanan, 2000). A disastrous famine in sub-Saharan Africa can be consequent to civil war in such a state may result in a lack of basic provisions such that a disaster accrues as a result of the macro-forces of human action.
A hurricane in Haiti may be as a result of global climatic deterioration whereby, pollution and wanton degradation creates unsafe conditions. Coal mines in the US or gold mines in South Africa may result from careless mine construction and exploration activities.
Now in all these examples, we have a disaster whose causes, preventive measures, and response mechanisms vary. Not all of them can be effectively theorized into one set of principles. Add to this complexity, the disasters that occur after terrorist attacks, some being airborne, and other ground bombings. Furthermore, a single disaster can lead or trigger domino effect disasters. The Earthquake disaster in Haiti can set a trail of humanitarian disasters long after the earthquake seized, with health and infrastructural risks being key causes of such disasters.
Famine in Africa may lead to civil conflicts that in turn result in mass displacements. Flooding in Asia may cause mass migration across international borders as people seek refuge, thus upsetting the balance of resources in receiving regions. That could trigger other disasters.
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