Differences between social problem
and natural Problem
A Great “Natural Disaster?”
• There are two words to consider here: Natural
• Something Natural implies that the cause is
Nature (An Act of God), and in the West, we
have never considered ourselves part of
Nature (that’s why God gets the blame).
• A Disaster is something that has a serious
impact on the lives and livelihood of a lot of
people. (Flood, Drought, Earthquake)
What’s the Situation?
A disaster is any natural event that overwhelms a community, district or
country’s ability to respond. There are natural catastrophes; events
caused by natural forces and man-made disasters events arising in
conjunction with human activities:
- Natural: hurricanes, cyclones, earthquakes, tornados, floods, tsunamis,
droughts, volcano eruptions etc.
- Man-made: nuclear accident, chemical spill, conflicts, major fires etc.
Disasters continue to target the world's poorest
and least developed. Of those killed in 2002, just 6
per cent lived in countries of high human
development. While countries of low human
development reported the fewest natural
disasters during the decade, their death toll is by
far the highest.
This is the economic impact of
disasters, which, strangely, does
not seem to match the
statement on fatalities. Why is
Is there a trend?
• Key statistics from the World Disasters Report
• From 1999 to 2003, reported disasters averaged 707 disasters each year, up
two-thirds from the previous five years. In countries of low human
development, the increase was 142 percent.
• For the last five years, an average of 303 million people were affected by
disasters, constituting a rise of more than 40 percent from a decade ago.
• Weather-related and geophysical disasters are more frequent, by about 60
percent, now than ten years ago.
• The death toll from disasters has actually been on the decline, with 2003
being a marked exception.
• Over half of all deaths in natural disasters are due to drought and famine.
Since 1994, they have claimed 275,000 lives.
• Drought and food shortage claim in excess of 1,000 lives per reported
event, compared to 370 per earthquake and 300 per extreme temperature
• Heat waves kill more people in the United States than hurricanes,
tornadoes, earthquakes and floods combined.
• Our first response is to say that the Tsunami was totally
beyond human influence and control—but was it?
• If global warming, which may be caused by human activity
(CO2), exists, then it could cause the sea to expand, and that
change of weight could have caused the landslide???
• However, tsunamis and volcanoes are almost totally natural in
cause. Their “disastrous” effect, however, has more to do with
man than Nature.
• There was a shift in the great continental
plates under the ocean off the coast of Aceh,
• As a result, there was a huge landslide under
the sea displacing billions of tons of water
• This water moved at >500 k.p.h. as a
underwater force wave.
The Tsunami, 2
• This did not produce a “huge wave” like a tidal
wave, instead, when it reached land it pushed
billions of tons of water ahead of it up onto
the land and many kms inland.
• Nothing could resist this force; there was
almost no warning, and people even stood
and watched it approach, having no idea what
• Hurricane Mitch knocked out 80% of the
communications of Honduras. Why? Because it was
poor, built to modest standards and unable to
• Mudslides kill thousands in Colombia and, in this
case, Nicaragua. It is not that the rainfall is greater,
but that the plants that protected the soil has been
cut down. The “resilience” of the environment has
been weakened by humans. Cause is Natural,
Disaster is Man-Made
• First global climate change will produce more
extreme events, because that is how Nature gets rid
of the extra energy trapped by Global Warming.
• People in the tropics lack capital to protect
themselves, are isolated from warnings, are very
defenseless when the disaster strikes.
• So, the same Natural Calamity can have very
Less strict building standards produce
Different people and cultures will
attribute the disaster to different
causes, e.g. religious retribution
Poorer communications limit the effect of
How does this play out?
• If you attribute the disaster to some “purely
natural cause,” or the Hand of God, then you
easily separate yourself from any responsibility.
• Second problem is to prove causality—think of
the discussions about Global Warming.
• The question for the Tropics is “To what extent
does poverty create helplessness to Natural
events?” For others, the Q might be “To what
extent do the consequences of wealth enhance
the risk of Natural risk?”
What part of the population suffered most from the impact
of Katrina? Why?
You might want to ask the same question about Katrina in Louisiana. Was the force of the
Hurricane “natural?” Was the impact a disaster because of natural circumstances, or because
of human intervention in Nature?
Why was the richest country in the world
unable to do anything for three days, yet the TV
crews were all there to report on this?
One Consequence of defining the problem
• If you define the problem as a “Natural
Disaster” then the emphasis will be on “relief.”
• That does nothing to prevent the same
disaster happening the next time, or worse.
• Relief addresses consequences, not causes.
• Disasters may be alarm signals of a much
• Cloud burst:
A COL zone is the area between two anticyclones and is characterized by very weak winds.
Usually thunderstorms move, distributing the rainfall over a large region, resulting in
“normal rainfall”. However, under the influence of weak wind fields in a COL zone, these
clouds do not move; resulting in a cloud burst or continuous heavy downpour . It is quite
common for north west India to lie under the mid and upper tropospheric COL zone
between the west Asian and Tibetan high, making this region prone to heavy rainfall. The
COL zone location varies on a day to day basis and Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab,
J&K, Ladakh, and Haryana all come under its sway.
• A cloud burst
A cloudburst is an extreme amount of precipitation, sometimes
with hail and thunder, which normally lasts no longer than a
few minutes but is capable of creating flood conditions.
Colloquially, the term cloudburst may be used to describe any
sudden heavy, brief, and usually unforecastable rainfall.
•hurricane are the planet’s most
•They are known as cyclones in
Australia and typhoons in southeast
•They bring huge waves and wind
speeds that can burst up to 186 mph.
•Hurricanes are not the normal
storms created when cold and warm
Introduction to hurricanes
Definition of a hurricane:
A hurricane is a tropical storm with winds that
have reached a constant speed of 74 miles per hour or more.
The eye of a storm is usually 20-30 miles wide and may extend over 400
The dangers of a storm include torrential rains, high winds and storm
A hurricane can last for 2 weeks or more over open water and can run a
path across the entire length of the Eastern Seaboard.
• A blizzard is winter storm condition characterized
by low temperatures, strong winds , and heavy blowing snow,
• The term blizzard is sometimes misused by news
media to describe a large winter storm does not actually
satisfy official blizzard criteria.
• In North America ,
Blizzards are particularly common to the
extreme portions of the Northernstrom
Difference Between winter storm and
Winter storms are characterized by snowfall, rain, sleet, and ice etc where temperatures are
below freezing point. A winter storm (or snowstorm) is an event in which the dominant
varieties of precipitation are forms that only occur at cold temperatures, such as snow or sleet,
or a rainstorm where ground temperatures are cold enough to allow ice to form (i.e. freezing
rain). The difference between a blizzard and winter storms lies in the presence and strength of
winds. Blizzards are massive snow storms with strong winds.
By Rachael Laritz, 2010
modified by T. Webb
Definition of Avalonches
• rapid flow of snow down a slope, from either
natural triggers or human activity.
• Typically occurring in mountainous terrain
Where does an avalanche
Avalanches occur on slopes
between 25 to 50 degrees.
Avalanches start most
often on slopes above the
timberline that face away
from prevailing winds.
• primarily composed of flowing snow, and are
distinct from mudslides, rock slides, and serac
collapses on an icefall.
• An earthquake (also known as
a quake, tremor or temblor) is the result of a
sudden release of energy in the Earth's crust that
creates seismic waves.
The seismicity, seismism or seismic activity of an
area refers to the frequency, type and size of
earthquakes experienced over a period of time
~An opening in the earth's crust through which molten lava, ash, and
gases are ejected.
~A similar opening on the surface of another planet.
~A mountain formed by the materials ejected from a volcano.
What is A Volcano?
A Volcano is an opening, or rupture, in the surface or crust of the
Earth or a planetary mass object, which allows hot lava, volcanic
ash and gases to escape from the magma chamber below the
• The casualty numbers could be influenced by:
people living in dangerous coastal areas; lack
of scientific warning; lack of emergency
• The question is “How vulnerable, or exposed
are the people to the forces of Nature.”
• The same size earthquake in Armenia or the
US, caused 29,000 deaths in one case and 26
deaths in the other. Why?
The act of defining a phenomenon as a social problem implies
that the situation is undesirable and that something should be
done to remedy it.
• Social Problem
• when enough people in a society agree that a
condition exists that threatens the quality of their
lives and their most cherished values, and they also
agree that something should be done to remedy
• A social issue (also called a social problem or a
social situation) is an issue that relates to society’s
perception of a person’s personal life.
• Different cultures have different
perceptions and what may be normal behavior in
one society may be a significant social issue in
another society, social issues are distinguished from
economics issue. Some issues have both social and
economics aspects, such as immigration.
A social system composed of parts that work together to benefit the
• Society is viewed as very similar to the
• Each part meets a need in order to
maintain a normal state of balance.
Interdependent network of
social institutions (family,
school, business, religion, etc.)
that shape our live.