Our Vulnerability to the Elements
PHS 100A- Environmental Studies
Warner Pacific College
November 13, 2013
Our Vulnerability to the Elements
Humans have so much power. We have the power to create and destroy. We can make choices in our lives; where we want to go, who we want to be. The opportunities are nearly limitless. There are only a few things in this world that we have absolutely no control over. No matter of technology we create can cage the power and destruction that is a natural hazard. Only God has control over these elements, and we can only try to predict and prepare for the power of the weather and the environment.
Natural disasters have taken their toll on our environment since the beginning of time. As far back as when God commanded Noah to build the arc, because he was going to flood the Earth. How we as a society can learn from these vulnerabilities is the key to advancing the knowledge of our environment (Slingo. 2012). Natural hazards are deadly, but they do not necessarily have to be something we fear so long as we understand their power.
Hurricanes are one of the great forces of nature that can destroy miles of a populated environment in a matter of minutes. Beginning as a tropical disturbance in warm ocean waters with surface temperatures of at least 80 degrees, a hurricane is fed by the energy from the warm sea. Once the storm reaches speeds of 38 miles an hour, it becomes known as a tropical depression (Withgott & Brennan. 2011). A tropical depression becomes a tropical storm, and is given a name, when its sustained wind speeds top 39 miles an hour. When a storm’s sustained wind speeds reach 74 miles an hour it becomes a hurricane. Hurricanes can be up to 600 miles across at speeds up to 200 miles per hour. They are a massive storm that can last for weeks wreaking havoc on everything it touches. We have the technology to predict when a storm is developing, and the ability to know approximately when it will reach land (National Geographic. 2013).
My personal experience with hurricanes was over eight years ago in New Orleans, Louisiana. Prior to Katrina, I spent a lot of my time in the “Big Easy.” I was a flight attendant for America West Airlines, and my residency often changed due to where I was based. I spent close to a year in New Orleans, and witnessed firsthand the power of these storms. The fear that overwhelms you and the quick reactions and decisions that are required for safety and survival.
While home over a long weekend, the news alerted the area of a tropical storm that was building in the Gulf of Mexico. Meteorologists and Storm experts feared that this storm would develop into a full blown hurricane within a matter of hours and advised all local residents to evacuate their homes to a safer location. Fearing for my life I gathered the items that I knew were the things I could not live without. Family photos and heirlooms that could not be replaced, leaving behind my home and belongings, I began the drive up to Arkansas. Fortunately the storm did not do the damage that was anticipated and only minor tree fallings and cosmetic damage were reported to homes and businesses. Shortly after the storm I was relocated to Phoenix, Arizona. A few months later, in August of 2005, hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, doing un-repairable damage, which is still evident today.
The evidence of these massive storms shows just how vulnerable our society is to the power of nature. Understanding the effects we have on our environment, as well as the effects it has on us, is crucial to the protection against these hazards.
Hurricanes, Engines of Destruction. (2013). National Geographic. Retrieved From:
Slingo, J. (2012). Society's Growing Vulnerability to Natural Hazards. Environmental Science Institute. University of Texas at Austin. Retrieved From:
Withgott, J., & Brennan, S. (2011). Environment: The Science Behind The Stories. San
Francisco: Pearson Benjamin Cummings.