Rampant European flooding in recent years reminds us of the natural hazards facing Europe. The North Sea has a history of ferocity. Europe has also faced seismic and volcanic risks, landslides, tsunamis and wildfires. The Great Lisbon Earthquake of 1755 and the Storm of 1703 are historic reminders of the perils facing Europe.Risks are not limited by political boundaries.The Great Lisbon Earthquake was felt throughout Europe and North Africa while the resulting tsunami struck the British Isles and even the Americas. Humans contribute to the disasters by living in geologically and meteorically hazardous areas. They can also be negligent in designing, constructing, and maintaining structures and facilities. Thus, humans can increase both the damages from the incident, but also the risk of the incident occurring.Experience teaches us that civilization with the best engineering cannot stop extreme forces of nature, such as earthquakes, hurricanes, landslides, tornadoes, tsunamis, and wildfires. We also realize that rivers have capacity limits and structures, such as dams and reservoirs, have design limits. Flooding occurs when the limits are reached. Structural solutions have design and life limits. Many hazards often cannot be prevented, but steps can be taken to reduce the impacts. They include building designs, emergency action plans, and timely warning systems, as with hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis, and wildfires.
Denis Binder, Chapman University, United States
Stream: Environmental Sustainability & Environmental Management: Land Use & Misuse
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