What are the types of disasters

Natural disaster

Dresden in summer 2002, flooded by floods. (& copy picture-alliance / dpa)

Explanation of terms

Natural disasters are very violent and unusual natural events that lead to many deaths, injuries and homeless people. They often cause great damage in nature and on buildings, roads, rails and other structures. Often people in the affected areas can no longer help themselves after such a disaster. They are then dependent on international aid.
A volcanic eruption in Alaska in January 2006 (& copy dpa)

Different natural disasters

There are very different types of natural disasters: floods, floods, earthquakes or volcanic eruptions. But severe storms, heavy rain, snow, hail and avalanches as well as drought, bush and steppe fires can have catastrophic consequences. Seaquakes can also pose a very great risk. They can lead to huge waves called tsunamis (the word comes from Japanese and means "big wave"). A tsunami and an earthquake in 2011 led to a nuclear disaster at a nuclear power plant in Fukushima, Japan. Almost 16,000 people lost their lives and around half a million people became homeless. Some areas in Japan are still uninhabitable today.

How does a natural disaster happen?

Scientists give various reasons for this: There are causes that lie in nature itself and that cannot be influenced. The 2011 seaquake was triggered by two huge plates colliding with each other in the interior of the earth, releasing unimaginable energies. But people's behavior has also contributed to the fact that natural disasters have occurred more frequently in recent decades. Greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, which are a by-product of industrial development, warm the earth's climate, which is believed to be a reason for the increase in natural disasters.

Early warning systems

In order to mitigate the worst impact on people, it is important to put in place early warning systems. Because even if we cannot prevent natural disasters ourselves, a lot can be done to ensure that the consequences are not too bad.

Source: Gerd Schneider / Christiane Toyka-Seid: The young politics encyclopedia from www.hanisauland.de, Bonn: Federal Agency for Civic Education 2021.