Encyclopedia of Natural Hazards

2013 Edition
| Editors: Peter T. Bobrowsky

Humanity as an Agent of Natural Disasters

Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-4399-4_174

Definition and introduction: humans and natural disasters

Humans have relied on the Earth’s landscapes for thousands of years. Only in the last few centuries have people become more independent from the natural environment. With the advent of specialized tools and technology, they have become the primary contributors to change in the environment. For example, people applied fire for widespread forest clearance, they have developed unique methods to modify the soil for agricultural use, they routinely construct water reservoirs and divert rivers, they actively modify landscapes directly through excavation, and other land modifications or indirectly through groundwater extraction. Such advanced change and development in human capacity has led to an interesting phenomenon. On the one hand, people have become better and more efficient in their use of the environment, but on the other hand they have become much more reliant on the Earth as a whole. Within the vulnerability debate, this is...

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Geography and Regional Science, Geomorphic Systems and Risk ResearchUniversity of ViennaViennaAustria
  2. 2.Bamberg Institut for Geography, Historical Geography Department of GeographyOtto-Friedrich-University BambergBambergGermany