Over the years, the number of natural disasters has been on the rise and their severity has continued to worsen. This has resulted in loss of lives as well as property worth billions of dollars.
Evidently, there has been a growing trend of natural disasters that have greatly exposed the inability of countries across the world to deal with associated risks (Jha 456). Based on different research findings, there has been a steady increase in the number of natural disasters since 1960. Apparently, most natural disasters result from earthquakes or volcanic eruptions.
According to some studies, natural disasters can have very devastating impacts that include damage to property and loss of lives (Boughton 4). To be on the safe side therefore, it is imperative to have an elaborate disaster management strategy that can be used to deal with natural disaster risks.
After undertaking a risk analysis process, plans should be put in place to mitigate, avoid, or share natural disaster risks. While most developed nations are better prepared when it comes to dealing with natural disasters risks, there is a serious problem among developing countries. This paper presents a discussion on how to manage natural disaster risks in a changing climate environment.
Climate Change and Frequency of Natural Disasters
To a large extent, the increased number of natural disasters is linked to climate change. Forests and other natural features have been destroyed by activities of men and women.
These changes in climate have in turn led to serious environmental challenges. Because of climate change, for example, rainfall patterns have greatly been affected in many places around the world leading to an increase in natural disasters that are experienced time and again.
According to Botzen and Bergh, changes to climatic conditions are responsible for extreme weather conditions that can increase the number and intensity of natural disasters (211). Apart from human related activities, climate change may also be caused by industrialization and urbanization. Emission of carbon dioxide and other green house gases poses a serious danger to the environment as well as human life in general.
According to Hallegatte (177), climate change represents more than just a change in climatic conditions. For a majority of key stakeholders, climate change implies a rise in uncertainty. While climate related parameters could easily be measured in the early days, this is practically not possible today.
Unfortunately, this poses a serious challenge to people who rely on the stability of the climate to have work done. With unpredictable weather patterns, farmers are unable to determine the appropriate times to prepare their lands for farming. In order to deal with these uncertainties, it is necessary to have a completely different approach to the decision making process.
Managing Natural Disaster Risks in a Changing Climate
With the increased rate at which climatic conditions are changing, a number of countries across the world have realized that they are prone to natural disasters.
Many have been hit by serious natural disasters arising from climatic changes and are now more urgent in devising intervention strategies. Usually, the associated economic losses are quite enormous and thinking of compensating those affected is certainly not exciting. Businesses as well as private individuals are sometimes encounter serious damages that leave them devastated and totally bankrupt.
It is for this reason that people are generally advised to have an elaborate disaster risk management plan that will guarantee continuity when the unthinkable happens. Generally, having a plan is important for ensuring that very minimal interruptions happen to business operations.
Apparently, assessing risks is a complicated process and one that must be handled diligently in order to leave nothing to chance. Seemingly, this is as a result of uncertainties of climate change. Usually, it is difficult to figure out the frequency of natural disasters and the kind of damage that can result from the occurrence of these disasters.
Although most people depend on their personal judgment of risks, it is imperative to have a clear approach to risk assessment. While individual risk assessment might work in some cases, it can not be applied in most situations.
Considering that the occurrence of natural disasters my not be so frequent, people may become complacent to the extent of forgetting that disasters can actually occur. Natural disasters may thus happen when least expected and cause great damage to property and life. The huge damage that results from natural disasters is mainly due to the surprise occurrence and poor preparation.
An important idea when it comes to the management of natural disaster risks is hardiness. Although hardiness is understood differently by different people, it generally refers to the ability to take things back to what they before a natural disaster happened, without having to spend heavily in the process.
Ideally, hardiness makes it possible for those affected by a disaster to recover within the shortest time possible. In addition, hardiness stops continued loss after the occurrence of a disaster. For some people, hardiness implies having the energy to absorb and recover from a disaster that has taken place.
Risk Management Strategies
As noted by Hallegatte (177), the uncertainty about the future of climate conditions is a very clear indication that a new approach to the decision making process is required in order to address the challenges that are associated with climate change and natural disaster occurrence. One way of managing risks is to reduce the probability of the disaster occurring in the first place. Ostensibly, natural disasters such as floods can be handled in this manner.
This is thought to be a very useful strategy as it helps to alleviate losses before occurrence. Approaches that may be used to control the occurrence of natural disasters include constructing dams and moving items that may be affected to a different location where they are less prone to disaster.
It is advisable to go to any length to devise ways of preventing natural disasters from occurring. Generally, people are advised to invest in prevention mechanisms before any disaster has taken place. Rather than spend huge sums of money to come up with prevention mechanisms after things have gone wrong, people should be proactive. By and large, this saves individuals the agony of having to go through a painful experience later.
In the event that a natural disaster occurs, risk management may be handled through compensation. For this to happen, it is advisable for people to have property insured against different forms of risk. When a disaster occurs, insurance companies will usually carry out an investigation to determine how the disaster occurred and the extent of the damage.
After the damage assessment process has been carried out, insurance companies prepare to meet the cost of the damage based on the agreed terms and conditions. Usually, the goal for both the insurance companies and clients is to ensure that normal operations resume within the shortest time possible. However, there are concerns that providing compensation can lead to laxity and an increase in natural disasters. This is mainly because people are aware that their risks are well catered for.
Although people are free to choose a risk management strategy that they are comfortable with, it is advisable to make use of a mixture of disaster management strategies. This usually ensures that when one strategy fails, the other should provide a reliable solution. In addition, the best way to deal with cases of uncertainty is through diversification of intervention strategies.
The Role of Insurance in Natural Disaster Risk Management
Generally, insurance companies play an important role in helping the affected parties to absorb damage and comfortably recover from a disaster. Over the years, the risks covered by insurance companies have been increasing prompted by the ever changing state of affairs in the world. In the recent past, climate change has been classified as one of the greatest challenges of our time. Consequently, the risks covered by insurance companies today include those that are weather related.
Because of the amount of resources that have to be spent to help people recover from disaster, insurance companies have been identified as partners in dealing with issues that relate to climate change. In order to reduce the occurrence of natural disasters, collaborating partners should undertake to educate members of the public on the importance of being prepared to deal with natural disaster risks and the need to prevent occurrence of such disasters.
It is generally presumed that getting people to be aware of issues that relate to climate change and the occurrence of natural disasters is a useful way of making sure that the number of natural calamities is greatly reduced. While this move will save insurance companies from unnecessary expenses that may result from negligence on the part of their clients, clients also benefit due to reduced incidences of natural disasters.
As a caution, however, it is essential for all insurance companies to be diligent in conducting its affairs. Efforts must be made to honor all claims presented to them and to ensure that their clients are quickly resettled. In the absence of integrity, the public will lose trust in the work of insurance companies and this can only serve to create more problems.
Climate change is certainly a serious menace in the modern day society. To a large extent, human beings bear the greatest responsibility for climate change. As a result of these changes to the climate, countries across the world have to experience natural disasters from time to time. Considering that activities by human beings are not about to stop, it is important to come up with strategies for natural disaster risk management.
As has been explained in this paper, there are different natural disaster risk management strategies that can be adopted to absorb and recover from risks arising from natural disasters. Prevention is one of the options that can be used. Among other things, having an effective prevention strategy against natural disaster risks enables people to stay safe and to have fewer worries. Another helpful strategy requires people to have their valuable properties insured by insurance companies.
Botzen, Wouter and Bergh J. C. J. M. “Managing Natural disaster risks in a changing climate”. Environmental Hazards, 8.3 (2009): 209 – 225. (Provided article)
Boughton, Geoff. “Planning to Prevent Natural Hazards from Becoming Natural Disasters”. Australian Planner, 29.4 (2010): 198 – 201. (Provided article)
Hallegatte, Stéphane. Natural Disasters and Climate Change. Washington, DC: Springer, 2014. Print. (Outside source)
Jha, Madan. Natural and Anthropogenic Disasters: Vulnerability, Preparedness and Mitigation. New Delhi, India: Springer Science & Business Media, 2010. Print. (Outside source)