PEACE PRACTITIONER WORKSHOP AND DISCUSSION GROUP
Session 11 - World Peace
'World Peace Begins At Home'
"Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery?
it, Almighty God! I know not what courseothers may take,
but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!"
Speech in the Virginia Convention, March, 1775.
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Violence in the
Riots: Collective Violence
Enviornment: Natural Disasters
World Environmental Report
By Lauren Smith, Atwood, TN, USA
Along with the Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA), CRED
maintains an emergency disaster database called EM-DAT. An event is categorized as a natural disaster if it kills 10 or more
people or leaves at least 100 people injured, homeless, displaced or evacuated. An event is also included in the database
if a country declares it a natural disaster or if requires the country to make a call for international assistance.
to the EM-DAT, the total natural disasters reported each year has been steadily increasing in recent decades, from 78 in 1970
to 348 in 2004.
Guha-Sapir said that a portion of that increase is artificial, due
in part to better media reports
and advances in communications.
Another reason is that beginning in the 1980s, agencies like CRED and the US Agency for
International Development (USAID) began actively looking for natural disasters.
"Like in medicine, if you go out into
a village and look for cases
you find much more than if you just sit back and let people come to you when they're sick,"
However, about two-thirds of the increase is real and the result of rises in so-called hydro-meteorological
disasters, Guha-Sapir said. These disasters include droughts, tsunamis, hurricanes, typhoons and floods and have been increasing
over the past 25 years. In 1980, there were only about 100 such disasters reported per year but that number has risen to over
300 a year since 2000.
In contrast, natural geologic disasters, such as volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, landslides
and avalanches have remained steady inrecent decades.
What's going on?
Scientists believe the
increase in hydro-meteorological disasters is due to a combination of natural and made-made factors. Global warming is increasing
the temperatures of the Earth's oceans and atmosphere, leading to more intense storms of all types, including hurricanes.
decadal variations in the frequency and intensity of
hurricanes are also believed to be a contributing factor, as are
temperature fluctuations in the tropical waters of the Eastern Pacific Ocean, known as El Niño and La Niña.
are also tempting nature with rapid and unplanned
urbanization in flood-prone regions, increasing the likelihood that
towns and villages will be affected by flash floods and
"Large land areas are [being] covered with
cement so this means the flow of water becomes very strong," Guha-Sapir said. "The runoff from the water can't get absorbed
by the soil anymore, so it keeps collecting and rushing down, getting heavier and faster, and then you have much bigger floods."
aren't just putting themselves at risk for floods, but for
natural disasters of all types, including earthquakes and storms
hurricanes and typhoons.
"As you put more and more people in harms way, you
make a disaster out of something that before was just a natural event," said Klaus Jacob, a senior research scientists at
Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.
According to the World Bank's "Natural Disaster Hotspots: A
Global Risk Analysis" report released in March, more than 160 countries have more than a quarter of their populations in areas
of high mortality risks from one or more natural disasters. Taiwan was singled out as being the place on Earth most vulnerable
to natural disasters, with 73 percent of it's land and population exposed to three or more threats.
The good news is
that the number of deaths from natural disasters has decreased substantially in recent decades thanks to better disaster preparedness
and prevention programs. But this statistic is tempered by the fact that more people are being injured, displaced or left
"If you don't die you need care," Guha-Sapir said. "To a certain
extent we prevent people from dying but
more and more people are affected."
Miss Lauren Smith is currently
an honor student at her high school in Tennessee. We thank her for her interest and contributions to the Peace Practitioners
~ Chloe Joquel, Founder/Director, The PeaceClinic,
[Session 10] This is Session 11 [Session 12]