World Environment Day 2021: Five Worst Man-Made Mega Disasters That Shook Mother Nature!
Do you know that we lose enough forest every three seconds that could cover an entire football pitch? As we celebrate World Environment Day on 5th June 2021, let us explore the five worst man-made mega disasters that shook mother nature.
About World Environment Day
The World Environment Day is celebrated on 5th June every year since 1974. A flagship program of the United Nation, it engages governments, businesses and national from over 143 countries annually.
World Environment Day is a global platform for public outreach on major environmental issues. It encompasses marine pollution, global warming, human overpopulation, sustainable consumption and wildlife crimes.
World Environment Day was established in 1972 at the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment. Two years down the line, the first WED was observed in 1974 with the theme Only One Earth.
Themes and Host Nation Concept
The practice of assigning a theme to the occasion of World Environment Day started since its inception. However, the idea for the rotation of the center through selection of different host nation came up only in 1987. India hosted the event in 2011 in the city of New Delhi with the theme Forest: Nature at your service.
The theme for 2021 is Ecosystem restoration and the host nation this time around is Pakistan. Ecosystem restoration implies preventing, halting and reversing the damage cause thus far to heal the nature.
Man-Made Mega Disasters That Shook Our Environment
The World Environment Day act as a reminder to the human race about its greed and lust for power at the cost of ecology imbalance. The supremacy complex along with callous recklessness exhibited by us in the past have led to some major catastrophic man-made disasters. Let us revisit some of them as an aide-memoire to learn from them and rectify our mistakes for a better tomorrow.
The Exxon Valdez Oil Spill
The sparkling, crystal-bright empire of Alaska’s Prince William Sound is a picture of unspoilt natural beauty. So, the world was horrified when this fragile ecosystem fell victim to one of the worst ever oil-spills in 1989. Just post-midnight on 24 March, the vast Exxon Valdez tanker rammed into a ridge, ripping the underside open and leaking over 11 million gallons of crude oil out into the water.
Within no time, more than 1,000 miles of the picturesque shoreline had turned black, bringing calamity for the animals of the region. Thousands of animals from birds to otters to killer whales perished in the black waters of the once-pristine sound. The once mesmerizing and serene ecosystem have never fully recovered.
The Gulf War Oil Spill
On 2nd August 1990, Iraq invaded and occupied Kuwait amidst long-standing territorial and oil disputes. As a consequence, a war broke between US led coalition and Iraq, famously known as the Gulf War. It is alleged that Iraq deliberately spilled about 4,000,000 US barrels (480,000 cubic metre) of crude oil in the Persian Sea.
Many studies since 1991 suggests that the spill is responsible for environmental damage to the coastline sediments and marine species. The Gulf War oil spill caused significant economic damage to the fishing and oil industries around the Persian Gulf. The act was considered as environmental terrorism and strict restrictions were imposed on Iraq by the international community.
Bhopal Gas Tragedy
When US chemicals company Union Carbide opened pesticide plant in the Indian city of Bhopal, it promised jobs and prosperity. However, with each passing year, it became increasingly unprofitable. Employees were laid off and the structure fell into increasing disrepair. A local journalist was alarmed at the deadly threat which the stockpiled chemicals posed to the local people. “Wake up people of Bhopal,” he wrote. “You are on the edge of a volcano!”
His words were shockingly foretelling. One night in December 1984, a tank of toxic gas began to leak into the atmosphere. The deadly cloud kept floating through Bhopal as the oblivious locals slept. Thousands of Bhopal residents succumbed to the poisonous methyl isocyanate gas. The Bhopal disaster is called the worst industrial accident in history as the survivors still experience respiratory and eye problems.
The Chernobyl Disaster
In April 1986, during a safety test at Chernobyl nuclear power plant, massive explosion occurred in the reactor number four. The explosion contaminated the nearby atmosphere with tons of radioactive material.
One of the technicians was killed on the spot in the blast. Dozens of employees and emergency workers succumbed in subsequent weeks due to radiation exposure.
The catastrophic explosion led to the evacuation of nearby city of Pripyat, which is an ominous ghost town today. According to some expert studies, the number of deaths from cancer caused by radiation is estimated to be around 4,000. Chernobyl is still considered one of the worst nuclear-reactor disasters in history.
Hiroshima Nagasaki Nuke Attack
During World War II, the United States detonated two atom bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan. The twin attack resulted in the killings of over 355,000 Japanese mostly civilians. The infamous nuking remains the only instance of nuclear weapon use in armed conflict.
While the city of Nagasaki was attacked on 6th August 1945, Hiroshima was nuked three days later on 9th August. It is estimated that over next 2-4 months, 90,000 – 146,000 people died in Hiroshima and 39,000 – 80,000 in Nagasaki.
The impact was so devastating that number of people continued to die from the effects of burns, radiation sickness, and injuries, compounded by illness and malnutrition. Several generations were born with permanent disabilities and deformities.
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