27 February 2014
Human Development and Natural Disasters
Nowadays, technology is developed in tremendous speed. It is easy to obverse construction and human development on every part of the Earth. The development of technology helps people to live their lives more easily. However, is human development really benefits to us? On 11 March 2011, a magnitude 9.0 earthquake occurred near the east coast of Japan, and generated a devastating tsunami, causing 15,854 confirmed fatalities and 3089 missing people (Steinhauser, 801). This earthquake, known as the Great East Japan Earthquake or 2011 Tohoku earthquake, caused massive destruction in Japan, especially in the Tohoku region. It is the “fourth largest earthquake recorded in the world since 1900.” The tsunami generated by the earthquake damaged the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, which led to the explosions of the reactor building walls and the leakage of large number of radioactive materials (Takeda, 208). It became the largest nuclear incident since the Chernobyl incident in 1986. The radiation problem has not been solved until now. The incident brought irreversible changes to Japan. The Great East Japan Earthquake brings out an important message to people: Human development leads to even serious destruction than only natural disasters themselves. The massive destruction and impacts after natural disaster contributed more to human development than the natural disaster itself.
Human development refers to “the process of enlarging people’s freedoms and opportunities and improving their well-being.” It is about “the real freedom ordinary people have to decide who to be, what to do, and how to live” (“About”). It is supposed to bring convenience to people and make our lives better. With the increase demand of energy and resources, scientists developed a lot of new energy resources in order to fulfill the need of energy of people. Energy no longer only produced by coal and natural gases, but also by the new energy resources such as nuclear power, wind power and solar power. The construction of high-tech facilities, discovery of new elements and new resources improved people’s living standard. With the rapid development of technology, people’s lives get easier. Yet, the rapid human development leads to many problems at the same time. It does not only lead to the speed up of global warming and increased release in greenhouse gases, but also causes greater impacts when natural disasters occur.
Human developments will lead to greater destruction in environment aspect. After the earthquake, the East coast of Japan has different levels of environment impacts. The tsunami led to the decrease number of “sessile epibenthic animals and endobenthic animals”. According to the report, “Immediate Ecological Impacts of the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake Tsunami on Intertidal Flat Communities” done by the Tohoku University, “animal taxon richness per intertidal flat decreased by 22% after the tsunami.” The number of “sessile epibenthic animals and endobenthic animals” has reduced due to the change in “inundation heights.” The report indicates that there is a significant decrease for “intertidal flats having larger inundation heights.” It is clear that the tsunami generated by the earthquake “took-away” the animals from the intertidal flats (Urabe, 4). Besides, the content of land has changed after the natural disaster. “The tsunami inundated large areas of farmland on the low-lying Sendai Plain, most probably leading to contamination of the land not only by salt but also metals and metalloids” (Chague-Goff, 175). The tsunami flooded the farmlands with chemicals, and contaminated the sand. Thus the farmlands are not suitable for agricultural production anymore, as contaminants brought “long-term impact” to the land (Chague-Goff, 177). Those chemicals mainly came from the factories and houses nearby. This shows that the human development