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APOCALYPSE?

By Brittany Bishop
Published: May 2010

Natural disasters have occurred since the beginning of time, but with an increase in incidents and a growth in deaths as the years continue, environmental awareness and 2012 prophecy concerns have increased. In 2010 alone, the world endured over 30 natural disasters, from earthquakes and volcanoes to floods and mudslides.

The prophecies of doom include catastrophes such as earthquakes, a magnetic field shift, and an asteroid or comet hitting the earth. Even the calendars of ancient civilizations such as the Mayans predict the end of the world, claiming the final day to be December 21, 2012.

Although these prophecies are a little far-fetched, implying that December 2012 will bring total demolition or transformation of the modern world, the escalating disasters occurring around the world warn the people of Earth’s current state.

The number of reported natural disasters has enlarged by over 4000 percent since 1990, rising from 10 reports a year to over 400. Another study claims that global losses caused by weather-related disasters since the 1960 has grown by 8 percent on a year-to-year basis. Much of the increase is probably due to significant improvements in information access and also to population growth, but the extent of increase still warns the world of catastrophic fate.

In the first few months of 2010, the world experienced major earthquakes and aftershocks. In January, a massive earthquake with a 7.0 magnitude hit Port-au-Prince, Haiti, the country’s worst earthquake in two centuries. The tragedy left more than a million homeless and claimed over 100,000 lives.

Soon after, an earthquake of 8.8 struck Chile, one of the strongest ever recorded. It left central Chile in shambles and killed more than 700 people. Tsunami warnings were also    broadcasted, and   the quake even may have caused long-term effects, possibly disturbing the earth’s axis.

China is the latest country to have been hit. A 6.9 magnitude earthquake, leaving at least 589 people dead and 10,000 injured, struck the Qinghai providence in mid-April.

Finally, and most recently, the eruption of glacier-covered Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajokull plagued the world. Since 1821, the volcano has laid dormant and unknown to most of the world until this eruption. Due to the glaciers, the volcano caused flooding, and soon after, the actual eruption, winds, lava, heat, and ash inundated the entire region.

In comparison to previous years, the number of casualties from natural disasters in 2010, which in March was at 200,000 people, is exceeding the norm. Although the deaths are pinned on one major disaster, the Haiti Earthquake, the severity of the disaster, as well as the number of disasters taking place around the same time, is frightening to many.

Over the decade from 2000 to the end of 2009, the yearly average was 78,000, according to the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR). For the 1990s, the average was 43,000. Although experts say that the increase is partially due to the increase in urban population, the number of deaths is too high this year to claim the population growth as a reason.

In January 2010, the United Nations even countered the argument that global warming is the reason for all the destruction. The climate science panel of the UN faces new controversy for incorrectly linking global warming to an augment in number and severity of natural disasters such as earthquakes.

The panel suggested that part of this increase was directly due to global warming. Researchers have found insufficient evidence to claim a statistical connection between worldwide temperature increase and catastrophe losses.

Of course, there is still speculation that global warming and human activity in general will lead to the end of mankind either way. Even though humans can try to stop global warming, nothing has truly made an impact on the effects of fossil fuel and green house gas emissions.

Warm temperatures have caused melting in Antarctica and other glacier-filled areas. An enormous iceberg broke loose from the continent of Antarctica in early February. The size of the iceberg may harm global weather patterns due to the disruption of ocean currents. According to experts, this could ultimately cause less temperate winters in the North Atlantic due to the slow production of colder and denser water.

Global warming can also cause hurricanes and tsunamis, which lead to the demolition of buildings and human deaths, and can result in larger disasters, such as earthquakes.

If the temperatures continue to increase, what could happen to environments, climates, habitats, and other factors of the world? The delicate balance of ecosystems could fall apart entirely and everything could come to a bitter end.

Humanity truly has no idea if the world will end in 2012, if people will die from  increased disasters, or if the whole thing is just a conspiracy. What we do know is that the trends in natural disasters are increasing, scarring the earth and foreshadowing some larger form of destruction, whether it is stoppable or not and whether it is in two years or a hundred.

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