What is the difference between a natural disaster and a natural hazard?
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This is a great question. There is an overlap between the two and this is one of the reasons why it is hard to know the difference between natural disasters and natural hazards.
Natural hazards are things that take place in nature that cause harm. The word "natural" is used to note that the disaster is caused by nature. Some examples of natural hazards are: earthquakes, hurricanes, sinkholes, hail storms, wildfires, and the like. It might also be helpful to keep in mind that one natural hazard can lead to another. For example, an earthquake can cause a tsunami.
Natural disasters are slightly different. They are the effects of natural hazards on humanity. For example, the tsunami in Indonesia caused a great amount of loss of property and more importantly lives. The earthquake and tsunami in Japan also caused loss of property and lives, as well as nuclear fallout.
A natural disaster is the effect of the earth's natural disaster, for example flood, tornado, hurricane, volcanic eruption, earthquake, heatwave, or landslide. They can lead to financial, environmental or human losses. The resulting loss depends on the vulnerability of the affected population to resist the hazard, also called their resilience. If these disasters continue it would be a great danger for the earth. This understanding is concentrated in the formulation: "disasters occur when hazards meet vulnerability." Thus a natural hazard will not result in a natural disaster in areas without vulnerability, e.g. strong earthquakes in uninhabited areas. The term natural has consequently been disputed because the events simply are not hazards or disasters without human involvement. A concrete example of the division between a natural hazard and a natural disaster is that the 1906 San Francisco earthquake was a disaster, whereas earthquakes are a hazard. This article gives an introduction to notable natural disasters, refer to the list of natural disasters for a comprehensive listing.
A natural hazard is a threat of a naturally occurring event that will have a negative effect on people or the environment. Many natural hazards are interrelated, e.g. earthquakes can cause tsunamis and drought can lead directly to famine or population displacement. It is possible that some natural hazards are intertermporally correlated, as well. A concrete example of the division between a natural hazard and a natural disaster is that the 1906 San Francisco earthquake was a disaster, whereas earthquakes are a hazard.
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