DISASTER – AN UNPREDICTABLE EVENT

Preparation through education is less costly than learning through tragedy

                                                                                 ~ Max Mayfield

When a person dies because of a disaster, the whole family behind him is left helpless and in a state of sorrowful environment. Recently, during a landslide in Manali a young girl lost her life due to disastrous landslide and many other people suffered too. A harsh reality of life where we see that how life is so unpredictable that anytime anywhere someone or the other becomes victim of such disasters without realising that his/her end is near. People who are saved from such disasters when stuck in such a situation find themselves fortunate that they were not the one. So, we must be accept the fact that life is not predictable so in order to deal with such a situation we must take active part in dealing with the disaster. As no one knows when a disaster would occur and  we may lose thousands of lives. 

What is a disaster?

A disaster is basically a sudden event where there is a lot of destruction of life and property.Earthquakes, tsunamis; floods are few examples of disaster which occur in different areas and regions at anytime.

How can the disasters be managed?

In order to deal with the situation of disaster, people must keep themselves prepared for all the situation which may occur in future .They must learn that how each disaster must be dealt for example in an earthquake, we must cover our head with a book or some sought of stuff that could protect us from unforeseen contingencies that may happen.

We must be prepared at home, at our workplace and know about the community vulnerability that how much are location may get affected from the disaster that may occur.There are certain tips that we must keep in mind while a disaster is known to affect our destination:

Tsunamis

  • We must listen to a radio/TV to remain updated regarding disaster
  • We must stay away from floods and damaged areas until it is safe

Floods

  • Stay clear of bridges over fast-moving water.
  • We must keep an eye out for evacuation alerts.
  • We must try to move to higher ground.

Earthquakes

  • Stay away from glass, windows, outside doors and walls, and anything that could fall, such as lighting fixtures or furniture.
  • Stay inside until the shaking stops, and it is safe to go outside. Most injuries occur to people trying to move a different location inside the building or try to leave.
  • Do not use the elevators.

We must remain alert everyday and everywhere and keep ourselves trained for the upcoming calamities. It is well said:

  “Training proves to be the key ingredient for handling any disaster”

NUCLEAR HAZARDS AND THEIR EFFECTS ON ECOLOGY

Nuclear energy is a major source of clean power everywhere in the world. It is considered to be an efficient power source, as it produces lesser carbon dioxide and operate for a longer period of time. a strong nuclear energy program of a country is essential for energy security and national prosperity. Nuclear power plants are fitted with complex set of safety and security features but an uncontrolled reaction can result in widespread air and water contamination. In the nuclear waste is not disposed off properly, it could also result in hazardous land pollution.

As Nuclear power plants create a lot of hazardous waste in the form of radioactive wastes such as uranium tailings, spent reactor fuel and other such radioactive materials, these wastes can remain radioactive for thousands of years and pose dangers to human health. There are always concerns associated with transportation, storage and disposal of nuclear wastes and even nuclear fuels nuclear disasters are capable of producing large damages to human health and the environment. The radiation release associated with nuclear disaster causes significant acute and chronic problems in the immediate environment as well as over a wide geographic area over longer periods of time.

WHAT ARE NUCLEAR HAZARDS?

Nuclear hazards refer to the incidents involving the release of significant levels of radioactive materials and exposure of general public or the natural environment to nuclear radiation. The nuclear hazards primarily affect public health due to direct exposure to radioactive materials, inhalation of radioactive waste, ingestion of contaminated food, water etc. and long-term exposure to radioactive materials in the environment that leads to acute or chronic health and environmental damage.

Due to radioactivity, even a small amount of radiation exposure can have serious biological consequences due to nuclear hazards The radioactive elements emit high energy particles that cause damage to environmental resources. Radiations emitted due to hazards in nuclear facilities can result in mutations in DNA, burns and radiation sickness, weakness, nausea, hair loss etc. Contamination of natural resources further aggravates the potential of nuclear hazards nuclear hazards can be created by man through the mining of radioactive materials, careless handling and processing of nuclear fuels, storage of radioactive wastes, carelessness in safety protocols while operating reactors, as well as improper use of devices that are used to give radiation therapies in hospitals, clinics etc.

CAUSES OF NUCLEAR HAZARDS NUCLEAR HAZARDS OCCUR DUE TO THE FOLLOWING REASONS:

  • Nuclear Accidents Nuclear energy has been considered as environmentally safe and potential source of energy. If nuclear facilities producing nuclear energy are not put under strict safety measures, there are chances that nuclear accidents may occur. Nuclear plants have huge amount of radioactive maternal for generation of nuclear energy The radioactive elements if escape into the environment, proves most harmful for the immediate land, air and water resources as well human health. If nuclear power plants are operated with flawed design, then too nuclear power plant accidents occur. For e.g., Chernobyl Nuclear accident, 1986, Ukraine.
  • Nuclear Waste Handling Radioactive nuclear wastes are categorized as low level and high level wastes the handling and disposal of these wastes if not performed according to standards prescribed for handling wastes, then nuclear hazards can take place because of leakage of this radioactive material. Radiation waste cannot be degraded or treated biologically or chemically. The only options are either to contain the waste by storing them in closed containers, having radioactive protection or disposing them at remote locations.
  • Mining of Nuclear Fuels Mining and extracting nuclear fuels such as thorium, uranium can turn into a nuclear hazard if safety precautions are not taken Mining increases exposure to humans by moving radio materials from below the Earth’s surface to the top These substances are usually mined with safety gears and protective equipment Exposing the natural environment such as trees, plants, water, animals to radioactive elements during mining also increases hazard risks.
  • Spilling of Radioactive Elements Spilling occurs due to marine accidents which are due to accidents of ships carrying nuclear materials and radioactive elements Spilling in water bodies causes harmful effects on marine life, contaminate water resources and ends up killing thousands of marine florals as well as faunal species Contaminated water supply in households can have drastic effects on human health.
  • Radiation Based Tests Radiation has been used in several medical therapies such as Chemotherapies for cancers Exposure to medical based radiotherapies leads to deaths and other complications Radioactive elements leaking out of medical facilities can cause fatal nuclear hazards.
Nuclear power: how might radioactive waste water affect the environment?

HUMAN AND ECOLOGICAL EFFECTS OF NUCLEAR HAZARDS

Nuclear hazards cause large amounts of nuclear wastes to be released in the environment this contaminating air, water and land resources. It is essential to contain nuclear material and facilities having nuclear materials safely. The harmful effects of nuclear hazards include:

  • Radioactive materials released from nuclear hazards cause mutations in the DNA thereby affecting genes and chromosomes. The genetic makeup of future generation is affected due to these mutations. It leads to several incurable birth defects.
  • Radiations can kill essential flora and fauna, important environmental species and can make land and plants etc. toxic and critical species are also affected. It results in huge damage to biodiversity.
  • Damages caused by different kinds of radiations also include direct physical harms such as burns miscarriages, cancer, bone defects, eye diseases etc. Even a small exposure to radiation can cause adverse effects. Damages that occur over longer periods are spread over for generations.
  • Natural resources such as land, soil, forests, water bodies like rivers, ponds, oceans get affected by nuclear wastes and nuclear elements. Contamination of natural resources affects large number of people living in urban as well as rural areas.
  • If nuclear accident sites are not treated and managed properly, it could result in human infectious diseases due to contaminated water and soil in a region.
  • Children are at particular risk from nuclear radiations. High doses of radiation increase cancer risk early in the life of children. Lifetime cancer risk significantly increases among children due to exposure to radiation.
  • Nuclear hazards increase the pressure on land as soil and water resources are contaminated and therefore lesser land is available for agricultural purposes. The microorganisms present in land and soil also pet killed due to insufficient oxygen which reduces soil fertility.
  • Nuclear hazards also reduce human immunity to fight against diseases and infections. This makes people vulnerable to infections. It further increases the chances of disease risk in the population.
Looking for a Trash Can: Nuclear waste management in the United States -  Science in the News

WAYS TO MITIGATE HARMFUL EFFECTS OF NUCLEAR HAZARDS

Nuclear hazards can pose serious risks to environment, humans and animal and plant life. Nuclear hazards can be mitigated by taking following measures:

  • There must be robust design and construction of nuclear reactors so that any fault does not occur during operation of the reactor.
  • Medical devices involving nuclear fuel and its use sold be used with caution to prevent any undesirable exposure to nuclear material.
  • Leakage of nuclear materials, radioactive elements, careless handling of radioactive elements must be fully ensured before carrying out any operations in nuclear facilities.
  • There should be regular monitoring of areas that are prone to nuclear hazards.
  • Nuclear wastes should be disposed properly as to prevent any long-term presence of radioactive material. Long term presence of radioactivity results in hidden and unwanted effects on human lives for longer periods of time.

ACCIDENTS DO NOT HAPPEN, BUT ARE MADE

Accidents do happen almost daily in one part of the country or the other just because we don’t care or just start worrying about it only after the inevitable has overtaken us. It may be a boat tragedy in Bihar, or a collision between a speeding train and a bus at an unmanned level crossing, or hundreds of road accidents happening in cities or the countryside, or the occasional train accidents, or air crashes, or the deluge triggered when a check dam gives way sweeping away habitations, or infernos in schools, cinema halls, marriage pandals, or fire in high rise buildings. The list of such accidents could be endless. When such things happen, we blame everything else except ourselves.

Take road accidents. A rough estimate long ago put the number of deaths on the roads in India at around a lakh every year. It must be more now with lakhs of vehicles of different descriptions entering our highways, city streets and village roads. None knows the number of injured and those incapacitated for life. Speed kills, especially, when the man behind the wheel goes beyond the legally permissible limits in certain zones of the city. You court disaster when you lose your sense of judgment and start driving after fully drunk at a dinner in a part or a hotel. Often you come across the hoarding. “Don’t mix driving with drinking”.

On Highways between Delhi and Jaipur or other cities like Chandigarh and Ludhiana or Chennai and Trichy, one would daily notice a goods carrier overturned with the voluminous contents of the vehicle scattered on the road. Here are drivers who work for prolonged hours for their living and they wouldn’t know when they fall asleep. Fatigue and overwork take their toll. A brake failure or a mechanical defect, all caused by failure by the vehicle owners to get their vehicles checked up or serviced periodically.

In several instances of road accidents, the government turns out to be the number one villain. Speed breakers or humps are not properly marked with the result riders of two wheelers coming at high speeds, can easily be thrown off their seats and can cause fatal accidents. Roads are in bad shape in many cities in several States. Different departments – the Electricity Department, the Telephone Department, Sewerage Wing and the Water Department – working with the least coordination among themselves, dig up the sideways of the roads or across the road by turn and leave them in awful condition creating the right conditions for accidents. And nobody takes any responsibility if any mishap happens.

Boat accidents create small news inside cover pages. Road accidents are routine even though they kill 1,00,000 people in the country every year. A rail accident or air crash is a good subject for banner headlines or for the channels to “break news”. But wherever an enquiry is conducted, one would find human error as the underlying factor. Accidents are bound to happen when a boat carries more than the capacity it is supposed to take. Vehicles collide with a speeding train at an unmanned rail crossing as the driver of the vehicle commits a fatal mistake and has to pay a dear price because of his error of judgement.

Now the situation has been changed due to Covid 19 pandemic. The accidents has decreased.There is no traffic jam. People are not busy with their work so the main streets are clean without waste and noise. An invisible virus is now able to control humanity which restricts the movement and actions where the law failed.

What is a Surveillance society?

The surveillance society is a society that is structured and organized using surveillance-based techniques. To be under surveillance means having information about individual’s movements and activities recorded by technologies, on behalf of the governments and organizations that structure our society. This information is sorted and categorized and then used as a basis for decisions which affect our life. Such decisions concern our entitlement, work, access to benefits, products, services, and criminal justice; our health, well-being, and our movement through private and public spaces. 

Everyday encounters with surveillance include:

• Video cameras which watch us every day everywhere we go – in buildings, shopping malls, streets, and residential areas. Automatic systems can now also recognize number plates (as well as faces).

• Electronic tags that keep a check on ones who are on probation do not break their release conditions, and people arrested by police have samples of their DNA taken and kept whether they are guilty or not. 

• We are constantly asked to prove our identity, for benefits like healthcare, and so on.

If surveillance is a normal aspect of the management and governance, then what’s wrong with it?

 Using surveillance to achieve one’s aims, no matter how big or small bestows great power. Some interests will be served, while others will be marginalized. Some will receive entitlements and benefits, while others may not.

As data travel silently across international boundaries, national states, and within transnational corporations, the impact of surveillance becomes even harder to identify and regulate.

It focuses on correcting the negative also it gives a message to those who are watched that they are not trusted to behave appropriately.

The rise of technology is shattering even the illusion of privacy. Video cameras peer constantly from lamp poles, satellites and drones float through the skies, smartphones relay a dizzying barrage of information about their owners and what not.

The information of every traveler on every stop is noted and stored by Internet service providers like Google, Verizon, and Comcast. Retailers scan, remember, and analyze each purchase by every customer. Smart TVs know what we’re watching—soon they will have eyes to watch us watching them.

The future is here. Nearly everything that happens from now on has the potential to be seen by someone and also stored indefinitely. Government and the private corporations working with them, collect and store billions of records every day and they’re hungry for more. Technology makes all secrets difficult to keep.

There has been evidence that shows mass surveillance erodes intellectual freedom and damages the social fabric of the affected societies. It opens door to flawed and illegal profiling of individuals. Mass surveillance has also not helped in preventing terrorist attacks.

Other evidence shows that even the possibility of being under surveillance changes the way people think and act, causing them to avoid talking or writing about sensitive or controversial subjects. This only showcases that mass monitoring of citizens achieves only one thing that is the development of mutual mistrust between individual and state.

Surveillance society instead of beneficial has given us more non-benefits. It affects the privacy of the individual. The mismanagement of CCTV, ID cards, mobile phone data, health, and social security databases, shop loyalty cards, and other data retention technologies has an enormous potential in causing public or personal catastrophe – from criminals and terrorists hacking into or sabotaging the health care database, down to personal data being stolen or accidentally destroyed.

However, if surveillance and personal data collection are to achieve its true value then it should be tightly regulated to avoid abuse and mismanagement by government, companies, and individuals. If we are living in a society that relies on surveillance to get things done are we committing slow social suicide?

Surveillance and personal data collection have the potential to be of benefit to society but only if maintained with due care, otherwise it only risks jeopardizing the public safety it’s meant to protect.