Addressing the global issue of natural disasters

Natural disasters are plaguing much of the United States. From droughts and wildfires in California to hurricanes coming off the coast and ravaging the southeast, these disasters are not only becoming more powerful, but more frequent as well. These storms have profound impacts on human life, access to resources and cause an extraordinary amount of damage to infrastructure.   

A common metric of measuring a storm’s impact is the damage and cost associated with a disaster. Because storms and natural disasters vary due to population, economic growth and changes in reporting standards, the worst storms are ones that exceed $1 billion in damages. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, in 2017 alone, there were over 16 confirmed disasters that caused over $1 billion worth of damages. 

To put that into perspective, the entire decade of the 1980s only saw 21 disasters that crossed the billion-dollar mark. The natural disasters in 2017 equated to over $306 billion of damages. This shatters the previous record, which was in 2005 when Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Dennis and Wilma caused $214 billion in damages. 

Because of these disasters, local and national governments have been put to the test to deal with them. It is their duty to provide aid and relief to those affected, but also to create solutions that help reduce the impact of future disasters. Since repeat incidents of natural disasters are happening, more needs to be done to help reduce the risk and damage of natural disasters. 

This applies to both a short and long-term views. A short-term solution could be something like putting up barriers to prevent flooding onto streets. A long-term solution could be trying to reduce your carbon footprint, as that helps limit greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere. 

Michael Brogan, an assistant professor of political science at Rider said, “Even in the short-term, we need to rethink where we live, how we build infrastructure and address vulnerabilities related to disasters. We should not be reacting, but there should be ways built in to deal with these disasters. [They] are only going to get worse, and our shore is a very vulnerable area, just look at what [Superstorm] Sandy did to it.” 

New Jersey has seen some very nasty storms. One being Superstorm Sandy. Most people that lived in New Jersey in 2012 experienced Superstorm Sandy firsthand. 

According to the New York Times, it caused millions to lose power for an extended period and a whopping $70 billion in damages. Even though few current students were here at Rider during Superstorm Sandy, Edgar Ress, the assistant director of mechanical services, helped Rider prepare and deal with the aftermath of the disaster. 

“[Superstorm] Sandy affected work because we had no power for four days and had to cancel classes and all other activities,” Ress said. 

He added, “I stayed at the Westminster Choir College campus for four days straight because I had no power at home,” he said. 

Governments need to address these pressing issues and people need to be proactive and not reactive when dealing with natural disasters and climate change. We need a long-term view and an altered short-term view to address these issues, because we are seeing the results of a radically changing climate and how its affects everyone.

—Rahul Mehta 

Rider Eco-Rep 

 

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