A brief overview of man-made disasters

We human beings are animals that are endowed with intellect and will power. We are supposed to use these wonderful instruments for our own good and for the good of the entire universe.

Unfortunately we have used it over the past centuries to destroy nature, of which we are very much a part. Billions of creatures have suffered due to irresponsible decisions of various authorities all over the world.

Here is a brief overview of some man-made disasters that have caused immense harm to nature.

Our planet

Global Warming

Global warming is man-made, that will have a negative long-term impact on nature. Human activity is resulting in release of excessive amount of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide.

These greenhouse gases have increased the average global temperature. This will lead to dire consequences if some drastic steps are not taken by authorities worldwide. Experts predict that the number or refugees from man-made disasters will be around 150 million by 2050.

Excessive amount of carbon dioxide will also cause ocean acidification. As oceans absorb large quantities of carbon, more of carbonic acid is formed. This results in decrease in dissolved oxygen, thereby making the waters of the oceans less inhabitable.

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Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, Gulf of Mexico

This disaster occurred in the year 2010. According to experts, Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico region is the worst and largest oil spill in human history. It all began with an explosion on BP’s Deepwater Horizon oilrig.

In this unfortunate man-made disaster, 11 workers were killed and 17 injured. Oil was gushing continuously creating hell for sea creatures in the region. Even though BP officials claimed that the leak was around 1,000 barrels per day, the actual number is more than 40,000. Some experts say it may have been around 162,000 barrels.

Around 48,000 people worked for 89 days to cap the well. But the damage was done. It is impossible to measure the impact on the environment due to this disaster. The oil spill caused significant damage to surrounding coral and wetlands.

Many volunteers who involved themselves in clean-up activities suffered damage to kidney and liver. This was due to exposure to 1.8 million gallons of toxic oil dispersant. Many more people suffered short and long term damages to their health.

BP Oil Spill

BP Oil Spill Location

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Deepwater Horizon oil spill
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Summary

  • Chernobyl disaster and Fukushima meltdown are the only two nuclear disasters that are classified as level 7 in the International Nuclear Event Scale.
  • More than 15,000 people died due to Bhopal Gas Tragedy.

Baia Mare Cyanide Spill, Romania

This man made disaster that occurred in Baia Mare, Romania on January 30 2000, is the worse environmental disaster in Europe. Around 100,000 cubic meters of cyanide contaminated water that leaked from a dam. Huge amount of fish and aquatic plants expired. Many people were killed and many were hospitalized due to consuming contaminated sea creatures.

Dead fish

Baia Mare

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Baia Mare, Romania
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A girl near the Union Carbide factory

Bhopal Gas Tragedy, India

Also known as Bhopal Disaster, this man made disaster happened in the early morning hours of December 3 1984. This gas leak incident in Indian city of Bhopal is considered the world’s worst industrial disaster.

Bhopal Gas Tragedy occurred at the Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) pesticide plant in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. More than 15,000 people died due to the gas leak. More than 500,000 people were exposed to methyl isocyanate gas and other harmful chemicals.

Even today people are adversely affected due to this shameful disaster. Many have suffered partial injuries and permanent disabling injuries. Chemicals abandoned at the plant continue to contaminate the ground water.

Soil and water near the factory is toxic to living beings in the water like fish. Studies conducted by Greenpeace and other organizations reveal that soil, ground water, well water and vegetables from locations in and around the factory are contaminated by various toxic metals and compounds like sevin, organochlorines, naphthol, tarry residues, hexachlorobutadiene, chromium, naphthalene, alpha naphthol, mercury, nickel, lead, hexachlorethane, pesticide HCH, halo-organics and volatile organic compounds.

Bhopal Gas Tragedy

A markerBhopal Disaster -
Bhopal disaster, Bhanpur, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh 462001
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London smog

The Great Smog of 1952, United Kingdom

A blanket of smog covered London for five days in the year 1952. Thousands died and hundred thousand suffered various illnesses due to this disaster. Cold weather and windless conditions collected airborne pollutants from the use of coal, thereby forming a thick layer of smog over the city. 12,000 premature deaths are attributed to this disaster.

London

A markerLondon -
London, UK
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24 Years After the Disaster

Chernobyl Meltdown, Ukraine

This man made disaster was a nuclear accident. On April 26, 1986, a sudden surge of power during a reactor systems test destroyed unit number four of the nuclear power station at Chernobyl, Ukraine, in the former USSR. The disaster was classified as a level 7 event on the International Nuclear Event Scale. It is the maximum in the scale.

The Chernobyl reactors were known as RBMKs. They were high powered reactors that used graphite to help maintain the chain reaction and cooled the reactor cores with water. Around 17 RBMKs were used by the USSR when the accident occurred.

This incident resulted in the release of a huge amount of radioactive material into the environment. Exposure to severe radiation killed 28 of the sites 600 workers in the first four months after the accident.

More than 100 workers suffered from acute radiation sickness due to exposure to radiation. Two workers died within hours of explosion due to due to non-radiological causes.

More than 200,000 cleanup workers received doses between 1 rem and 100 rem during the years 1986 and 1987. The Chernobyl Meltdown resulted in contamination of wide areas of Belarus, Ukraine and the Russian Federation. Millions were impacted negatively due to this accident. Many were affected cancers and deformities.

Chernobyl

A markerChernobyl Disaster -
Chernobyl disaster, Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, Pryp'yat', Kyivs'ka oblast, Ukraine
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Fukushima Reactor before the disaster

Fukushima Meltdown, Japan

Also known as the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Disaster, this unfortunate event occurred at the Fukushima 1 Nuclear Power Plant. This disaster was triggered by Tohoku earthquake and tsunami.

This disaster that occurred on March 11 2011 was classified as a level 7 event, the maximum on the International Nuclear Event Scale. The plant’s boiling water reactors was designed by GE and maintained by Tokyo Electric Power Company.

Even though no deaths were caused by radiation exposure, some experts believe that the disaster has increased the risk of thyroid cancer among people in the region. Mark Z. Jacobson and John Ten Hoeve, two Stanford University professors are of the opinion that the accident is most likely to cause 130 cancer deaths.

Fukushima

A markerFukushima -
Fukushima, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan
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Shrinking Aral Sea

The Shrinking of the Aral Sea, Central Asia

Around 10 percent of Aral Sea’s 68,000 sq km has disappeared due to this disaster. It is considered to be one of the worst environmental disasters. Diversion of rivers for irrigation is the main reason for this shrinkage. This has affected the marine life negatively.

Aral Sea

A markerAral Sea -
Aral Sea, Uzbekistan
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These man made disasters should act as eye openers to authorities all over the world. Adequate safety measures have to be implemented while constructing nuclear reactors. To be happy and healthy, human beings have to be in tune with nature. Nations should remember this principle while framing policies.

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