Environment: Accidents and Catastrophes


Accidents refer to the events that occur without the involvement of human beings (Kunstler 28). In most cases, accidents are beyond human control and may therefore be considered to be supernatural occurrences. Such unnatural events include earthquakes, storms, landslides and tornados. Death itself is catastrophic and a fate that befalls mankind accidentally.

All living creatures die. Human beings succumb to death unexpectedly due to many causes. Accidents and catastrophes are therefore linked to termination of life or otherwise the loss of purposes for living. It is philosophically thought that life without purpose is not worth living. Some of the accidents are as a result of negligence or ignorance.

These constitute road accidents caused by drunken drivers as well as over speeding. Motor vehicle insurance policies provide some cover to the victims of these human-related accidents in so far as compensation is required (Lancaster 15). Disaster management experts explore measures to manage accidents and catastrophes in order to save lives and property.

Human activities have greatly contributed to major catastrophes such as the accidents reported in industries, mining activities, medical mishaps as well as inhalation of poisons by agricultural workers.

For instance, the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in Ukraine led to massive deaths in addition to causalities arising from people succumbing to the harmful radiations (McClinton& Courtillot 50). The radiations which are potential carcinogens exposed people who were around the nuclear reactor to cancer with lifetime complications.

Agricultural hazards

Pesticides and fertilizers used in flower farms are continuously exposed to dangerous chemicals which if not properly protected, lead to a deterioration of their health often resulting in death. The harmful effects are not immediately noticed until the harmful chemicals have extensively accumulated in the body such that therapy becomes elusive (Perrow 33).

Advances in biotechnology research have led to the use of alternative approaches in crop husbandry with minimal application of these harmful pesticides. However, the safety of the food products developed through biotechnology initiatives has been the concern of many consumers, bioethicists and governments.

Legal and ethical concerns linked to biotechnology are welcome in so far as their proper regulation of the industry is done for the wellbeing of the society.

Genetic modifications of foods to be consumed by human beings should not be taken at face value since it could lead to health hazards. As such, labeling of genetically modified foods is important in order to guide innocent consumers. The use of GMO foods becomes particularly handy in developing countries due to the recurrent problem of hunger.

The frustrations that are brought about by drought, hunger and starvation are so catastrophic that relief food becomes a priority in the international community.

Since genetically modified foods can be developed within a shorter duration than typical crops in addition to their potential to withstand harsh weather conditions, they are often employed to feed the starving populations. Apart from droughts that frustrate the efforts of farmers who rely on rain-based agriculture, other catastrophes could equally destroy crops such as hailstorms and locusts (McClinton& Courtillot 62).

Industrial accidents

Workers in manufacturing factories are in danger of deadly accidents and catastrophes if safety standards and measures are not upheld. It therefore demands that qualified staff is always hired in order to prevent the occurrence of accidents arising from ignorance.

In the case of employees who are hired on casual terms with no technical training, it is the duty of the management to upgrade their knowledge regarding their workplace safety from time to time.

It is important that even the junior most of employees are equipped with life skills and relevant work instructions in order to ensure maximum output with considerable reduction in injuries and accidents. Chemicals explode during laboratory experiments as a result of accidental reactions. Unattended machinery, results in catastrophic accidents in industries with marked effects on the labor force (Perrow 49).

There are also other incidences where workers in mining sites and manufacturing factories are exposed to chemicals which destroy their body organs with time. Workers who are not protected professionally in these manufacturing industries end up being amputated by moving machines such as conveyor belts or inhale fumes which have a deadly cumulative effect on their health(Perrow 61).

Most of these workers are poor people with no proper representation by the labor organizations due to rampant corruption in their governance systems. When safety standards are neglected at such a workplace, accidents arise which could result in major catastrophes. As such, the development of technologies meant to work easier and increase production should equally aim at safeguarding the welfare of human beings.

Natural catastrophes

Human beings are limited in their knowledge about universe except for some of the innovations associated with advances in science and technology. Research is on-going across many disciplines ranging from medicine, astronomy, agriculture, engineering to psychology. Findings from these scientific and technological interventions are equally not conclusive.

As such, the universe continues to present enormous challenges to mankind which either inspire the search for more knowledge or cause painful experiences (Sagan 30). Technological advances for instance have led to the detection of pronounced seismic waves that cause earthquakes beforehand.

However, the magnitude of their impacts has never been properly estimated in order to prevent deaths or damage to property. The same situation occurs in the analysis of potential damage that could be caused by wind storms, hurricanes, tornados and hail among others.

Damage to property is equally catastrophic since it results in poverty, disease, death, loss of accommodation and psychological trauma. When homes are swept away by floods or hurricanes, families break up and their livelihoods shuttered.

In addition, survivors are left to fend for their lives under deplorable conditions characterized by absence of basic needs such as shelter, food and clothing. There is also the accompanying pain linked to the psychological trauma that is caused by these catastrophes (McClinton& Courtillot 75).

The occurrence of these spontaneous and unnatural events is a mystery which is both perplexing and frustrating. Their effects are sudden but severe with limited power on the part of human beings to resolve them.

This then drives people towards the adoption of extreme ideas related to magic, witchcraft and sorceries in an attempt to unravel the mysteries associated with the accidents and catastrophes. Religious beliefs are consulted especially by people who have experienced a painful ordeal linked to an accident.

When nature presents deadly occurrences to human beings, there is the tendency to consult the supernatural forces which are often blamed for the unfortunate events. Whether faith in the spiritual powers could resolve a catastrophic event is subject to personal convictions.

The exact causes of unnatural events could be a mystery but the fact of the matter is that human beings are endowed with intellectual power to deal with the underlying issues occasioned by the hazards (Sagan 46). The events can be monitored with an aim to discover their pattern or sequence in order to minimize their effects especially with respect to the preservation of human life.

Floods cause death and serious economic challenges but they are manageable with advance in science and technology. As a result of rivers overflowing into homesteads, dykes and dams have been erected in several countries which experience the problem in order to contain the waters within the river banks. Eventually, the waters can be utilized during the dry weather seasons for irrigation.

These innovative approaches have resulted in increased agricultural output, preservation of life as well as reduction of the risks associated with floods. However, foods are still a menace whose effects need to be regulated in order to save lives and properties. This is because, it is expensive to repair the damage caused by floods as well as other natural disasters.

Reconstruction efforts are always time-consuming and frustrating (Lancaster 27). Managing the effects that are occasioned by accidents and catastrophes therefore remains to be a pointer of the level of preparedness by the society. Disaster management initiatives are therefore important in understanding the underlying issues on these matters.


Generally microorganisms act as agents that transmit diseases which are equally catastrophic. Advances in medical research have brought some relief by provision of pharmaceutical drugs, vaccines and surgical operations patients.

However, life-threatening diseases continue to torment human beings such as HIV/AIDS. Prevention of diseases is less expensive compared to their treatment. However, there are diseases which emerge without warning hence being incurable. It therefore takes time before their devastating effects are brought under control often resulting in massive deaths (Kunstler 44).

HIV/AIDS for instance exposes its victims to many other diseases since it compromises their immune system. This makes them vulnerable to opportunistic infections throughout their life. The discovery of retroviral drugs has therefore brought relief on the pain associated with the pandemic thereby allowing them to pursue their dreams in life without much stress.

It is costly to finance the research undertakings that explore avenues to heal the sick in addition to the long duration that the process takes. Most of the patients therefore succumb to their ailments due to the combined effects of the accompanying pain, emotional trauma and inability to afford therapy.

Financial and economic difficulties

Experts in economic and financial matters are very resourceful in analyzing global markets some degree of statistical accuracy (Lancaster 55). However, the concerted efforts of experts in business matters do not prevent economic difficulties from occurring.

The global financial crisis and economic recession facing the world today is a manifestation of the limitations which human beings have in terms of predicting unforeseen catastrophic events including structures and systems designed by them.

As a result of these economic constraints, poverty is markedly increased as well as joblessness which is occasioned by layoffs. The rise in unemployment levels has a direct bearing on the security and social structures in the society (Sagan 47). Although financial challenges are predictable with a proper scrutiny of economic activities, the repercussions that follow the collapse of markets are both catastrophic and devastating.


The greed for power and wealthy drives human beings to fight in an attempt to outdo one another. The love for money becomes the root of many evil things that people do in order to gain political and economic prowess. Wars have been fought between countries over natural resources such as oil, natural gas, minerals and wildlife among others.

The struggle to control resources results in deliberate human rights abuses such as rape, murder and political instability. Political struggles combined with religious conflicts have resulted in terrorism which is an international catastrophe.

Terrorism is perpetrated violently as a result of ideological differences between people with divergent political views (Sagan 65). Individuals obtain the justifications to unleash terror on others from the background they belong to a criminal group which enforces such extreme ideas. Members within the group express solidarity for their course thereby ignoring even their own safety concerns. This then leads them to engage in hijackings, bombings and other deadly criminal activities without fear of their lives or their victims. Terror gangs are organized in their operations which often cut across the world. Terrorism activities are normally visited on tall buildings in big cities in the attempt to cause mass deaths.

Members of these terror gangs are indoctrinated with ideas with political and religious orientation which brainwash their brains in order to achieve some degree of extremism (McClinton& Courtillot 90). As such, terrorists are hardened criminals who are ready to kill in pursuit of their course. They are so committed to the terrorist agenda that they can die for it.

The frequency of these terror activities is ever increasing as political ideologies and religious beliefs differ. For instance, radical Muslims with fanatical religious beliefs have been integrated into terror gangs such as the Al Qaeda in order to counteract democratic ideals propagated by the United States as it asserts its political authority in the world.

Disaster life cycle and the UK disaster management plans

In the UK, professionals in the built industry such as designers, quantity surveyors, real estate managers and contractors have developed a harmonized approach in dealing with disasters. The disaster life cycle incorporates reconnaissance surveys on infrastructure projects taking into account planning, design, erection and maintenance of buildings in order to protect users and the neighboring community from disasters such as fire (Perrow 80).

Disaster management is therefore reinforced by capacity building initiatives for the purpose of repairing the damage caused by disasters with minimal loss of lives or injuries. Reconstruction efforts are equally facilitated by the team of experts as well as government.

Capacity building encompasses all aspects related to the development qualified personnel in the building industry, regulatory legislations, training programs and reconstruction initiatives. Panning for disasters takes into account their emergence nature. Disasters are therefore evaluated based on their potential risk to human life (Kunstler 53).

Management of disasters explores ways to reduce deaths as well as body injuries by integrating security and health programs for defense and recovery. Catastrophe planning also seeks for emergency interventions that target vulnerable groups with skills to escape from the imminent dangers.

The participation of the community is also much necessary for the purpose of creating awareness about disasters in general. When members of the society are informed about the possible causes of accidents and catastrophes, they are then empowered to make the right decisions in order to manage their effects.

For instance, fire and road accidents can be managed by exercising caution and restraint during their occurrence. The response that accompanies a tragedy is important in preventing its dangerous effects to both human beings and property. Recovery and reconstruction efforts are guided by response mechanisms.

It is often difficult to determine and control human behavior during a disaster with life-threatening implications (McClinton& Courtillot 102). Panic, fear and anxiety are associated with disasters which then compound the situation.

It is therefore necessary for counselors and other professionals in psychology to help victims suffering from catastrophic effects. As rescue operations are undertaken at the scene of an accident, people need to be trained on how to maintain their composure in order to facilitate recovery efforts. As such, all stakeholders in the community must be involved in resolving any crisis.

Technology is also applicable in detection and control of accidents as well as catastrophes (Kunstler 70). Road accidents being caused by drunken drivers can be prevented by the use of alcohol detection equipment which can effectively diagnose alcohol from the breath of a suspect.

This requires the use of law enforcement agencies such as the police in an effort to reinforce traffic rules for the safety of everyone. The application is such stringent traffic regulations also demands for the involvement of law makers and other policy makers within government.

Finally, the benefits have to be quantified based on the set objectives with a view to assess the results. Overall, more lives have to be saved when using proper disaster management measures.


Disaster management is therefore crucial in benchmarking appropriate policies and programs meant to reduce the vulnerability of human beings to different disasters and catastrophes (Lancaster 70). Even though, accidents and catastrophes occur without warning, prior preparation reduces the risks and dangers that could arise from the unfortunate events.

The involvement of experts and various professionals in the society in designing programs and interventions meant to manage disasters is equally important. Above all, everyone within the community is entitled to uphold the highest safety standards and caution with respect to the dangers posed by accidents and catastrophes.

Glossary of terms




Capacity building



Disaster management

Dykes and dams


Genetically modified Foods






Natural disasters


Pharmaceutical drugs





Works Cited

Kunstler, Howard J. The Long Emergency: Surviving the End of Oil, Climate Change, and Other Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-First Century. New York: Grove Press, 2006.

Lancaster, John. Engineering catastrophes: causes and effects of major accidents, Cambridge: Woodhead Publishing, 2000.

McClinton, Joe & Courtillot, Vincent. Evolutionary catastrophes: the science of mass extinction. London: Cambridge University Press, 2002

Perrow, Charles. The next catastrophe: reducing our vulnerabilities to natural, industrial, and terrorist disasters. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2007.

Sagan, Douglas S. The Limits of Safety: Organizations, Accidents, and Nuclear Weapons. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995.

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