Even though it is currently possible to predict most natural disasters and minimize their consequences, major social impacts still have been seen over recent decades. In this essay, a natural disaster is defined as a naturally occurring event that exerts adverse effects onto human society, including those caused by geological factors and infectious organisms. It may result in a wide range of aftermaths, however, only the most prominent ones of these will be examined including casualties caused by a disaster, public health crises and economic depression.
Firstly, the most direct and immediate impact of a natural disaster on a society is the loss of human life. In certain types of natural disasters large number of casualties may not occur, nevertheless in the scenario of a far-reaching flood and earthquake, the death toll could be immense. It is estimated that the 1976 Tangshan earthquake caused more than 750 thousand deaths, making it rank the first among all earthquakes in the 20th century (BBC, Year unknown, internet). This figure indicates a correlation between population density and higher casualties. Furthermore, On April 20 2011, Edmond Mulet, the head of the UN mission in Haiti said, "marked the 100th day since the devastating earthquake that struck Haiti, leaving between 250,000 and 300,000 people dead," (2010, quoted in The Telegraph, internet). Since Haiti is an underdeveloped country, the mitigation system is incomplete, as well as the assistance measurement, hence the numeber of dead was significant. In addition, it is reported that nearly a month after a disastrous earthquake generated the tsunami along Japan's northeastern coast, approximately 15,000 individuals were still missing, and the majority of them are possibly never to be found (Sydney Morning Herald, 2011, internet). It can be concluded that the geological feature is sometimes also a factor causing serious casualties. Besides geological causes, a global pandemic could also be devastating as the 1918 Spanish influenza killed 50 million globally with most of its victim being young adults (Taubenberger, Reid, Lourens, Wang, Jin &Fanning, 2005, 889).
Additionally, the number of death is often linked to the countries’ own situations. Higher death toll is associated with certain geographical location, less democratic political system, economic social disparity and weaker public institutions (Kahn, 2005, 271). Kahn has also observed slight correlation between natural disaster death and lower average income however this is considered to be minor. It should be noticed that a correlation does not imply causation (Kahn, 2005, 271). Therefore, wether improvement in one of those areas would effectively reduce the loss of human life in natural disasters should be carefully examined. In other words, it is possible that economical social disparity is a result of less powerful government and does not alone result in higher susceptibility of disaster death.