SCALE OF IMPACT
The rhetoric of everyday language is filled with emergencies and disaster incidents, catastrophizing the common. What marks a disaster often lies in the eye of the beholder and can expand in impact and volume, crossing over into terrains of other concepts. Even within the field of disaster research, the terms disaster and catastrophe are sometimes being used interchangeably.
Across the board, disasters are seen as events that overwhelm the local community.
According to the International Red Cross And Crescent Federation a disaster is “...a sudden, calamitous event that seriously disrupts the functioning of a community or society and causes human, material, and economic or environmental losses that exceed the community’s or society's ability to cope using its own resources.”
DISASTERS IN THE MAKING
While there is no such thing as a natural disaster, disasters often are the result of natural hazards - phenomena that originate in natural processes.
Processes are termed hazards when they bear the potential to threaten items deemed of value to humans. Such interest of value can include life and livelihoods of human and animal populations, damages to infrastructure and natural habitats, social disruption or environmental degradation.
Climatological hazards are caused by climate variabilities through long-lived atmospheric processes, ranging from intra-seasonal to multiple decades. Examples: Extreme temperatures, droughts, wildfires.
Biological hazards are of organic origin and caused by the exposure to living organisms and the diseases that they may carry or their toxic substances such as venom or mold. Examples: Disease epidemics, animal incidents, insect infestations.
Anthropogenic hazards are caused by deliberate or unwary human behaviour and activity and can be further divided into technological, sociological, environmental hazards. Examples: Infrastructure failure, terrorism, chemical spills.
Extraterrestrial hazards are asteroids, meteoroids, or comets as they pass near-earth, entering the Earth’s atmosphere, and/or strike the Earth, or by changes in interplanetary conditions that affect the Earth’s magnetosphere, ionosphere, and thermosphere. Examples: Near-Earth objects, space weather.