Risks to a National City
The modern world is turning insecure for human and animal population as well as the ecosystem due to the natural hazards, human-made calamities and other issues like terrorism that people face in their day to day life. The rapid human population explosion witnessed currently leads to the increased demand for land due to the need for housing, agricultural as well as infrastructural development that promotes deforestation. The loss of trees as well as other natural vegetation transforms the climate, thereby enhancing the likelihood of extreme weather conditions that lead to climatic change and lay the ground for disasters. In fact, natural disasters are mostly predictable due to topography of an area as well as weather conditions and their corresponding seasons. Apparently, the advanced warfare practices combined with terrorism led to the introduction of biological and chemical weapons that mainly cause illnesses, mutations and environmental pollution that may affect population as well as its future generations. The research aims to conduct a study to unearth the natural hazards such as floods, earthquakes, tornados, hurricanes as well as terrorism and the associated radiological, chemical, biological and explosive weapons that threaten many urban dwellings.
Risks to a National City
Cities are vast permanent human settlements that have complex systems of utilities, sanitation, land usage, transport, communication, entertainment as well as housing, all of which lie in close proximity. Although the development enhances interaction of people as well as businesses, it poses a challenge to the management of urban growth (James et al., 2013). Such centers have exurbs and suburbs near them, thereby increasing the in-and-out traffic flow. Talking about such settlements, they are characterized by piped supply of water, gas and petroleum fuel, clustered buildings of different heights, paved grounds, less vegetation, entertainment facilities, and many roads passing through the buildings. In some cases, water bodies such as oceans, lakes, seas, and rivers may also characterize a city. The high concentration of buildings, traffic, the associated human activities, and massive interference in topography make the populations prone to natural as well as man-made hazards. Therefore, proper measures need to be put in place to mitigate or prevent the appearance of such calamities. With regard to city centers, they also offer suitable targets for terrorist attacks, thereby warranting improved security measures and triggering the need to raise people’s awareness about the preventive as well as mitigation measures so as to avert or reduce loss.
Different cities face diverse threats due to the contrasting nature of topography, development of structures as well as the natural features such as water bodies available. However, some of the problems tend to be universal due to the similarity of some man-made features, the concentration of people as well as the recreation facilities. In fact, the physical development of towns amplify the effects of natural hazards such as floods due to the increased paved surface area that inhibits the infiltration of surface runoff into the ground. With regard to the hazards that the urban population faces, there are man-made chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive attacks. Furthermore, natural calamities characterized by their acceleration through human activities as well as terrorism affect cities throughout the world.
Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosive Attacks
Talking about attacks, there are incidents when one uses biological, chemical, radiological, and nuclear or explosive substances as a major or a complementary threat that increase the destructive capability of an attack. The resultant destruction is high and leads to long-term effects on the affected area or population. Thus, a specialized response and prevention capability by agencies such as fire departments, hazardous response units, as well as the public health entities is required.
The characteristic feature of chemical weapons is the use of poisonous aerosols, vapor, liquid and solids that are harmful to plants as well as human and animal life and are mostly tasteless and odorless, thereby making it hard to recognize the attack in time. The attackers strike with bombs and sprays from aircrafts, vehicles, and boats or plan acts of sabotage with the aid of the manufacturers of chemicals. The signs of such an attack include the presence of dead birds and insects, nausea, difficulties in breathing and irritation of the breathing system among others. The mitigation of the impacts includes leaving the area, showering, turning off air conditioners, and seeking medical help.
Biological weapons are characterized by the use of organisms such as toxins, bacteria, and viruses such as the anthrax spores that kill or incapacitate people, plants and animals. The strategies for attacking are spraying of aerosols or fine mist, contamination of water and food supplies, or infecting domestic animals or infesting with rodents such as mice. The resultant diseases are highly contagious and are thus spreading all over the population. The preventive measures for such a calamity entail immunization against viral diseases, boiling water, leaving the place, consumption of inspected food and thorough washing among others. Moreover, urgent medical care is necessary in the case of infection.
With regard to radiological weapons, these are dirty bombs that comprise a combination of ordinary explosives and radioactive materials that affect humans, animals and plants upon exposure. In fact, it is not needed to have considerable expertise to make such weapons because their ingredients are easily available in the field of medicine, agriculture, research, and industry. The impact of such attack is dependent on the size of the bomb as well as the weather because the wind spreads the material, thereby affecting a wide area. In case of attack, the victims should abandon the territory if possible, take a shower, change clothes as well as seek medical attention.
Nuclear attack entails the use of weapons such as missiles or small devices that explode and emit intense light, heat, pressure wave, and radioactive materials that contaminate the air, water and ground for miles. With regard to people near such a disaster scene, they suffer from heat, blinding light as well as fire. Apparently, topography and metrological conditions determine the effect of the blast. It is not possible to detect radiation by use of common senses; thus, the community needs to have radiation detecting devices. Moreover, people should be advised not to look at the fireballs due to the blinding light. Furthermore, it is crucial to take shelter for several days under strongly built structures with thick walls that shield people from the emitted substances.
Talking about the explosive weapons, these include the improvised explosive devices and the vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices planted in or near buildings or streets. When a bomb explodes in a building, people should take cover beneath furniture to avert injury from falling debris, and after the fall stops, they should carefully leave the place. To avoid injuries caused by glass, people should keep away from windows and refrain from using elevators.
With regard to natural hazards, these are events that occur naturally and pose a threat to life and property. However, human activities influence the intensity as well as the frequency of the disasters through the transformation of topography as well as the destruction of vegetation. It is possible to predict the calamities of this nature due to their relation to the weather patterns as well as topography.
Flood entails the mass overflow of water from the river channel or its spread over a vast geographical area. In fact, the causes of the hazard are extreme rainfall, huge waves, and melting of the glacier from mountains among other factors. However, the human activities such as paving of the ground, building on waterways, removal of the vegetative cover and building of dams facilitate flooding. Therefore, the calamity affects towns due to paved grounds, coastal areas as well as the downstream grounds. Concerning the mitigation measures, they include refraining from constructions on flood plains, unblocking waterways, elevating houses and electrical appliances as well as building dikes among other measures.
The hazard refers to the rapid movement of the earth due to the sudden release of accumulated strain. In the process, the tectonic plates move past, over, and under each other, thereby causing the shaking of the ground. If the plates happen to be locked, stress accumulates and hence breaks them. The calamity affects areas that lie on top of active fault lines. The mitigation measures include building firm houses, repairing defective pipelines, removing heavy objects from the shelves, and fastening appliances such as fridges against the walls. In case of the earthquake, people should take cover under the tables to prevent injuries from falling objects.
The phenomenon is characterized by a strong wind extending from a thunderstorm to the ground in a funnel-shaped manner that moves at a speed of 300 miles per hour. The calamity affects all areas, irrespective of location. Mitigation strategies involve the construction of a safe room; however, when caught outside, an individual should lie flat and shield the head with hands and take care not to be captured by ensuing floods.
The hazard entails a series of vast waves created by disturbances occurring under the sea or ocean including landslides and volcanic eruption among others. The water moves from the ocean toward inland at a very high speed in the form of waves as high as 100 feet, and the consequent ones become bigger than the former. The mitigation measures include construction of houses several miles from the ocean line, construction of walls to restrain waves from damaging the building, and when the calamity strikes, people should relocate to higher ground.
The problem refers to a down-slope movement of rocks, earth or debris at a slow or rapid speed and of large or small size that may cause mudflows if saturated with water. The causes of the calamity are earthquake, human interference in topography, fires, volcanic eruption and loose soil among others. The mitigation strategies include building away from steep slopes, valleys, mountain edges and riversides. Evacuation of people from the disaster scene is inevitable to save lives.
Hurricanes are tropical cyclones accompanied by thunderstorms and usually occur in the Atlantic and near the Gulf of Mexico from the month of June to November, affecting the coastal and other cities within several hundreds of miles inland. Concerning the mitigation measures, they entail construction of storm shutters and strengthening the roof support among others.
Terrorism refers to the use of force or violence against people or property to intimidate, coerce or demand ransom. The crime is aimed at instilling fear and demanding political change, while the culprits behind this are either local or international individuals or groups. The terrorist activities include assassination, kidnap, hi-jacking, bomb-scares, bombing, cyber attacks as well as the use of chemical, biological, nuclear and radiological weapons. The weapons used are improvised explosive devices, vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices, mass shootings, and use of hijacked aircrafts to hit buildings. Cyber crimes intended for stealing information, spreading a virus, disrupting communication and other services, controlling the operating system as well as industrial espionage are also perceived as a dangerous terrorist weapon. The mitigation strategies for terrorism are awareness of one’s surroundings, keeping away from suspicious people and reporting them to the authorities, refusing luggage and parcels from strangers as well as knowing the emergency exit routes in buildings. When caught up in the situation, an individual should not confront the attackers but use tricks such as feigning death so as to avoid a strike.
Towns and cities are very vulnerable to natural hazards due to the high concentration of people, enormous traffic, massive constructions as well as the services that are dependent on the pipeline. The increased deforestation to provide space for construction promotes runoff that constitutes floods in urban centers as a result of paved ground and obstructed drainage ways. The crowded buildings intensify the effects of earthquakes due to the potential collapse of such structures. The crowded population gives terrorists the opportunity to maximize the severity of their attacks. The individual or group attacks cities by use of chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive gadgets that have long-term effects on the population. Other weapons used by terror gangs entail improvised explosive devices, vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices, mass shootings and cyber-crime all of which make cities insecure in the contemporary world. Due to the increased terrorist activities, all people are at risk and should take efforts to protect themselves.