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Throughout the history of the world and of man, proof of evolution as a direct result of disaster is apparent. Whether written by fatalism or created as a result of nature and mans interaction, the world is subject to change when disaster occurs. Even before the existence of human beings, disasters changed the shape of animal cultures, which would forever have an impact upon the inevitable future of the world. Volcanoes, earthquakes, floods, and wind continue to change the shape of land, giving way to new existence of life. Changes in climate limit the types of life in certain areas and dictate the future of entire regions. Dinosaurs once inhabited the earth, but could man have evolved and coexisted? The disaster that resulted in the extinction of the dinosaurs eventually paved the way for the existence of other life.
So too have changes resulted from man's experience with disaster. Surely early disasters forced human beings to make adjustments in their social and living habits. Shelter became a means of avoiding whether, and proof of early medicinal remedies shows us that humans began forming preparedness plans for protection and treatment against disaster. Every type of calamity has had an effect on its victims, and forced changes to accommodate the results and make preparations for future happenings.
After the powerful tsunami that struck Indonesia, Thailand, Sri Lanka and many other communities in 2004, it became resoundingly clear that animals were able to foresee the coming disaster. During the cleanup efforts, the number of death among animals was astonishingly minimal. Although there is a large population of elephant, deer, leopards, black bears, sloth bears in the areas that were hit the hardest, not a single carcass was discovered after the event. Reports later came in of animals fleeing areas long before the tsunami hit. Some even report elephants carrying people off to safety.
Also as a result of the tsunami, governments from all over the world began to form a more useful early detection and warning system for areas that never before had such technologies. Researchers began to focus on tsunamis as a more widely recognized form of disaster, and not just a rare phenomenon. DART buoys were later deployed to assist in these early warnings. The social changes that happened as a result of the disaster were far reaching. Interaction among countries that formerly had little contact began to arise. New political and economic relations came about as a result, and cultural changes took shape.
The effects that hurricane Katrina had on society not only had an impact on those directly hit by the storm, but by those hundreds and thousands of miles away. New Orleans was already known to have a high rate of crime and poverty, but the events after Katrina only served to help spread the problem. As many outlying communities began to open its doors for those fleeing from the storm, new problems began to take shape. In an interview with Rachel Strong, a resident of Shreveport, LA, we can learn a lot of how lasting effects can occur from a disaster. Rachel claims that although efforts were made to help those victims of Katrina, the "thoughtfulness and caring of the community was short lived". She goes on to explain that many of the people that fled from New Orleans simply settled down to live in Shreveport. This huge influx of people that had lost nearly everything caused an even more widespread problem of poverty to an area already in distress.
Mrs. Strong explains that local programs were set up to help care for the new residents of Shreveport, and that many centers were created to take and distribute donations for those in need. However, it soon became apparent that many were simply abusing the system, and that the economical and social impacts on that area would have a severe impact. The cross-over effects of Katrina would quickly create another type of disaster.
Not all outcomes of a disaster have a negative impact. Many believe that disasters are just a natural part of evolution, and in the grand scheme of things, they are the building blocks of nature and human culture. A look back into some of the most extraordinary disasters reveals some truth to this idea.
The ancient civilization of Pompeii was buried and virtually frozen in time when Mount Vesuvius erupted on August 24, A.D. 79. Though it was a tragedy that so many lost lives in the event, the result of the eruption became a miracle that would be studied and awed upon forever by modern culture. Because of what happened, scientists are able to research what happened and to use the data collected to form new ways of prevention and protection for future civilizations. Even the local economy has gained from the historical eruption. The site is now a landmark that attracts thousands of visitors that bring money to the region and helps boost the economy.
Perhaps the largest effect of a disaster can be seen by studying the changes in plant and animal life. Mt Kilauea in the Hawaiian Islands has been erupting for over 25 years. Though most of its eruptions are not considered major in the sense that they cause devastation to human population in the area, these eruptions are constantly changing the face of plant and animal life in the area. Even the landscape of the Hawaiian Islands continues to change on a daily basis by the spread of molten lava that is rapidly cooled by coastal waters, forming new land.
Because of the changing structure of the coastal areas, as well as the aging of inner land masses on the islands, Mt. Kilauea serves as a sort of biological and ecological study site for scientists. On its fringes, barren landscapes house animal life that thrives on the rich mineral deposits given off by the gases and rock deposits. Meanwhile, erosion helps to create fertile soil in which other types of plant and animal life can flourish.