Catastrophic TsunamisWhen they strike, catastrophic tsunamis claim numerous lives and cause horrific damage. A tsunami occurs when energy is transferred from the earth into water, resulting in large waves reaching heights of hundreds of feet. They can be triggered by earthquakes, landslides or volcanic eruptions. Moreover, tsunamis travel up to 500 miles. And most tsunamis occur within the Pacific Ocean. While this natural disaster only occurs twice a year on average, the impact is colossal. Listed below are 10 famous tsunamis that everyone should know about.

10 Most Catastrophic Tsunamis

  1. Indian Ocean
    In 2004, the world saw one of the most catastrophic tsunamis in the Indian Ocean. A magnitude 9.1 earthquake caused the ocean floor to rise a shocking 40 meters, with waves rising heights of hundreds of feet. Consequently, the fault line covered 900 miles and touched the shores of India, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Indonesia. Unfortunately, this tsunami led to the death of approximately 230,000 people and caused $10 million worth of damage.
  2. North-Pacific Coast, Japan
    One of perhaps the most catastrophic tsunamis hit the North-Pacific coast of Japan in 2011. After a 9.1 earthquake occurred just miles off the coast, an alert went out warning locals to find safety. This was the largest earthquake in Japanese history and the fourth largest in the world. Moreover, local nuclear power plants worsened the situation, as one plant cooled down and melted from the water. Ultimately, this led to four days of continuous radiation that required two weeks of clean up.
  3. Portugal and Morocco
    In 1755, an unexpected earthquake hit Lisbon on All Saints Day. Consequently, most people were in church when the tsunami arrived. The waves killed between 60,000 to 100,000 people along the coasts of Portugal and Morocco. Shockingly, some of the debris from Lisbon traveled as far as the Caribbean. As one of the most catastrophic tsunamis in European history, this disaster remains a pivotal point in European history, as seen in subsequent artwork and philosophy of the time.
  4. Messina, Italy
    In 1908, the small town of Messina suffered a 7.5 magnitude and subsequently a tsunami. With waves as high as 40 feet, this tsunami devastated the land of the agricultural community. Thus, many people relocated after the disaster. Most people immigrated across Italy, however, some traveled as far as the U.S.
  5. Krakatau, Indonesia
    While earthquakes usually cause tsunamis, a volcanic eruption caused the tsunami of 1883 in Indonesia. The eruption of the Krakatau Volcano led to a tsunami, with waves extending as high as 98 feet. Surges from the tsunami lasted approximately 29 to 30 hours and reached as far as New Zealand.
  6. Southern Chile
    In 1960, the world’s largest earthquake occurred in the southern part of Chile. At a magnitude of 9.5, this earthquake had a global impact. Accordingly, waves from the resulting tsunami traveled as far north as the U.S., causing $23.5 million worth of damage in Hawaii. And in Japan, more than a day after the earthquake, tsunami surges caused 139 deaths. Overall, this tsunami left an estimated 2 million homeless in Chile.
  7. Sanriku, Japan
    Once again, Japan finds itself on the list of most catastrophic tsunamis. In 1896, an atrocious earthquake rocked Sanriku, Japan. Having had several minor earthquakes earlier that day, locals did not anticipate a tsunami. However, after an 8.5 magnitude earthquake rocked the surface, tsunamis waves crashed into the shore. At the time, no preventative measures were available to warn locals of the incoming tsunami and the disaster claimed 22,000 lives.
  8. Central Chile
    Like Japan, Chile commonly experiences from tsunamis. In 2010, an earthquake spanning 62 miles ruptured in central Chile. Approximately 12 million people felt the ground tremble. Shortly thereafter, a tsunami struck. This tsunami damaged, if not destroyed, 370,000 houses and 4,013 schools.
  9. Arica, Chile
    In 1868, Arica, Chile (then Peru) experience a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and resulting tsunami. Subsequently, Chile makes the most catastrophic tsunamis list for the third time. Three naval ships were docked at the port city, of which only two crew members survived. Thirteen hours after the initial incident, waves hit New Zealand and caused damage to local harbors.
  10. Mount Unzen
    Like the case of Krakatau, this tsunami began when Mount Unzen erupted in 1792. Consequently, this led to an estimated 15,000 deaths. Interestingly, in 1990, the mountain began to release ashes.

While stories of catastrophic tsunamis seem frightening at first, there are preventative measures being implemented. For instance, starting in 2004, the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System has installed sensors in the ocean floorboards. Run by the Intergovernmental Coordination Group and Unesco, IOTWMS sensors detect incoming tsunamis and alert officials.

In addition, as scientists conduct more research on the history of tsunamis, they can better predict the likelihood of tsunamis in specific regions. Ultimately, while tsunamis are a powerful force, there is hope for improved prevention strategies in the future.

Anna Melnik
Photo: Flickr

Younger Generation Helps
Felix Finkbeiner, a German 19-year-old, has created a global youth movement, Plant For The Planet, in hopes of saving communities all over the world and eventually building a suitable place for everyone to live. Younger generation helps protect the world with the ambitious Finkbeiner, and they show how little actions can make huge differences for the better.

The Younger Generation Cares About the World

At nine years old, Felix Finkbeiner had the goal of protecting land by increasing the number of trees. Finkbeiner successfully motivated 75,000 children to become climate ambassadors with Plant For The Planet, and over 15 billion saplings have been planted.

Finkbeiner spoke at the United Nations and European Parliament. Due to his hard work, Finkbeiner has gained traction for Plant for the Planet from the World Wildlife Fund. Since 2006, about 15.2 billion trees were planted by individual people, governments and businesses.

The movement’s founder is prepared to reach his goal of helping save the world by being knowledgeable about what matters. Through research, he found that there is enough land in the world to plant 589 billion mature trees harmlessly.

Finkbeiner explains, “We need to plant at least a trillion trees to get 600 billion, since many will not survive. Additionally, we must protect the 170 billion trees in imminent risk of destruction.” Younger generation helps contribute to positive changes in the world following the example of Finkbeiner.

The Positive Impact of Planting More Trees

Plant for the Planet has planted trees in 200 countries including:

  • China with 2,859,664,407 trees planted
  • Mexico with 789,303,868 trees planted
  • Afghanistan with 34,019,233 trees planted
  • Nicaragua with 6,425,810 trees planted

Plant for the Planet bought a 33,359-acre ranch near Cancun, Mexico in 2014 that employs 78 people. The ranch strives to plant ten million trees on the land by 2020 because its land was deforested. 

More Trees, Less Global Issues

The following countries are supportive of planting more trees to help with the reforestation of saving land all over the world: Ethiopia, Niger, Mali many other African countries and Latin American countries. Plant for The Planet has planted more than 14 billion trees in more than 130 nations and set the goal of planting one trillion trees in the next thirty years, with the Trillion Tree Campaign.

More trees can help solve many global issues by providing a healthier living environment for people. In fact, the planting of one trillion trees can collect an extra ten billion tons of carbon dioxide yearly.

The younger generation helps to make the world a better place by involving themselves in solving global issues. This population knows that there is not much time to stop these global problems from getting worse for their children, so Finkbeiner and the younger generation are taking action-oriented steps to help alleviate global poverty — one tree at a time.

Kelly Kipfer
Photo: Flickr

Saving Coral Reefs
Coral reefs cover only 0.1 percent of Earth’s surface but sustain around 1 billion people worldwide and 25 percent of all marine life. This impact alone is a major factor as to why saving coral reefs is an imperative mission, according to the United Nations Environment Program. Coral reefs protect coastlines from the damaging effects of wave action and tropical storms particularly in the Philippines, the Caribbean and Australia.

In addition, coral reefs also provide habitats for marine organisms, help with nutrient recycling and create a healthier environment to breathe in and do agriculture. They also provide environmentally-friendly fishing for human consumption while increasing marine job opportunities and tourism. For example, Fiji relies on the Great Sea Reef, the third largest in the world, for all of its food security and income for a population with over 250,000 people living on the poverty line.

Yet, the United Nations has reported that 70 percent of Earth’s coral reefs are threatened —  20 percent are already destroyed, 24 percent are at high risk of collapse and an additional 26 percent are at risk due to long-term threats. Acts such as coral bleaching, sale of live coral, plastic and chemical pollution and unregulated water activities and fishing contribute to dramatic reef loss. Coral reefs are vital for the environment, food and income globally.

NGO and Government Initiatives

Greater levels of protection are implemented by governments and NGOs. The United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development has created a future protection plan that involves the need to reduce marine pollution, regulate the harvesting of fish and end overfishing, unregulated fishing and destructive fishing practices to restore fish stocks. Proper fishing can even provide secure food aid based on fish and shellfish to hundreds of thousands of people living in poverty.

The International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI) in conjunction with the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in 2012 created a document titled, “The Future We Want.” This proposal emphasizes the importance of economic relief for the poor living coastal to reefs. The document outlines economic means to build “green-economic” societies that do not harshly deteriorate coral reefs and educate the poor. The ICRI also places importance on aid and public-private business partnerships as essential to saving coral reefs and reducing poverty.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported that widespread coral bleaching has reduced dramatically as of 2018. The non-profit, Coral Reef Alliance (CRI), has also provided reef community infrastructure projects and scholarships for reef education to students in Fiji since 2005.

CRI encouraged the Honduras government to declare two areas as Sites of Wildlife Importance: Cordelia Banks in Roatán and Tela Bay. This denotation offers a greater level of protection and regulation, reduces fishing pressure and enables coral reefs to thrive. In collaboration with the Puakō community and universities in Hawai’i, CRI conducted dye tracer studies to track the movement of wastewater to oceans in an effort for saving coral reefs.

How To Protect Coral Reefs

Coral reefs do not just rely on government and NGO projects for aid. The ICRI has declared 2018 the International Year of the Reef and has partnered with Green Fins and the Reef-World Foundation to make sustainable diving practices the norm. The following list denotes five ways to protect coral reefs.  

  1. Always wear a life jacket and practice buoyancy prior to diving to not accidentally harm marine life.
  2. Use reef-friendly sunscreen. A report by the ICRI addresses toxics in UV products. Sunscreens that use non-nano zinc oxide as their active ingredients do not contribute to coral bleaching nor harm fish.
  3. Do not leave unwanted fishing nets or plastic into the water, as that only adds to suffocation of organisms and pollution.
  4. Build a coral reef.
  5. Contact representatives by call, email or in person. Demand action to pass legislation to protect coral reefs, stop ocean pollution and expand marine protected areas.

Saving coral reefs prevents poverty traps from occurring. A poverty trap is a situation where poor communities are forced to degrade resources of coral reefs in order to make ends meet. In Madagascar and Papua New Guinea, the populations living in poverty rely on government protection of coral reefs for food to prevent a poverty trap. With the right environmental, economic and social initiatives, reefs can be sustained to save marine life and the world’s poor.

– Areina Ismail
Photo: Flickr

ecotourism in sri lanka
Elephants, whales, dolphins, eagles and mangrove forests are just a few aspects of Sri Lankan nature that give rise to the increasing popularity and benefits of ecotourism in Sri Lanka.

Tourism in Sri Lanka

Tourism, in general, is rapidly increasing in Sri Lanka. The surge in number of tourists seeking Sri Lanka’s nature brought initial exploitation and misuse of nature by locals trying to capitalize on the quickly accelerating business. However, ecotourism in Sri Lanka and efforts from others inspire more protection and the growth of sustainable tourism.

While further improvement efforts are still needed, nature is now more recognized by Sri Lankan locals and government as a valuable resource that needs protection and intelligent management. Only this kind of treatment will continue bringing income and other benefits.

The number of tourists visiting Sri Lanka hovered around 200,000 to 500,000 per year for the past three decades. However, in 2011, that number raised to about 850,000 tourists, which reached beyond two million tourists in 2016. While the number of tourists visiting Sri Lanka has drastically increased in the past few years, the average length of stay has consistently remained the same since at least the 1970s – about 10 nights.

A Nation’s Economy

Those 11 days and 10 nights of tourists pouring their money into Sri Lanka’s economy combined with the drastic increase in number of tourists in the past few years has caused the tourism sector to become an important core of Sri Lanka’s Foreign Exchange (FE) earners. Ranking third in 2016 behind worker’s remittances at 29 percent and textiles/garments at 19 percent, tourism brought 14 percent of Sri Lanka’s FE earnings.

Undoubtedly, tourism is becoming an increasingly important and beneficial part of Sri Lanka’s economy that helps to reduce poverty and empower local communities. The surge in tourism presents economic benefits, stark challenges and sustainability issues as businesses seek to capitalize.

Elephants

For example, elephants are one of the major tourist draws, and they have been (and some still are) horribly abused by Sri Lankan locals trying to make a profit from tourists. Many tourists are not aware of the extreme suffering captive elephants undergo in the businesses offering elephant rides.

Some good news is that many local Sri Lankans, international animal protectors and ecotourists are trying to put an end to the suffering of elephants in Sri Lanka’s tourism industry while also providing alternative tourism income. There are now sanctuaries for elephants to rescue the creatures from abusive businesses and provide acreage and veterinary care for the rescued elephants to heal and retire.

The Sri Lanka Wildlife and Conservation Society (SLWCS) is a non-profit organization working to bring harmony between humans, elephants and nature in Sri Lanka. SLWCS focuses on sustainable economic development, conservation and field research. New Life Elephant Sanctuary (NLES) is a project of SLWCS, with goals of providing medical care and protected nature habitat for rescued elephants, educating people and transforming tourism into a co-existence format that doesn’t hurt the elephants.

Ecotourists are drawn to spending their money on visiting wildlife sanctuaries such as NLES rather than abusive businesses. As general tourism and ecotourism in Sri Lanka grows, so do organizations such as SLWCS, regulations and improvements in environmental management.

Mangroves

Mangrove ecosystems also provide an option for the development of sustainable ecotourism in Sri Lanka. Although Sri Lanka’s mangrove ecosystems were hit hard during the 2004 tsunami, local communities, experts and organizations work to restore them.

Mangroves provide locals with tourism income as they continue to heal from tsunami damage. The trees not only provide opportunity for sustainable tourism income, but they also offer a habitat for unique species and act as a buffer protection shield for inland Sri Lanka against tsunamis and other storms.

Exclusive Economic Zone and the DWC

In addition to nature that can be used as economic resources within the country, Sri Lanka also has sovereign rights to an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) — an area that includes 510,000 square kilometers of ocean extending 200 nautical miles beyond its shore.

It is now illegal in Sri Lanka to go whale or dolphin watching without paying a park fee for a permit from the Department of Wildlife and Conservation (DWC). Also, since 2013, fishing licenses are now required for any fishing activities, and registration certificates must be obtained for any boats intended as fishing vessels.

Prioritization of Both Tourism and Nature

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) also helps Sri Lankans deal sustainably with issues connected to its increasing numbers of tourists and urbanization. In September 2017, USAID granted $625,000 to organizations in Sri Lanka for proper waste management, including recycling and to “create livelihood and income generating opportunities such as composting and the sale of recyclable and reusable plastics.”

Overall, initially poor management of the surge of tourism and mishandling of nature in Sri Lanka led to eventual increase in protections for animals, conservation of land and more sustainable ways to share nature with tourists. While continued and expanded efforts are still needed, increasing conservation efforts from locals, assistance from USAID and eco-friendly choices of ecotourists are helping Sri Lankans realize longer-lasting economic benefits of their sustainable tourism and nature.

– Emme Leigh
Photo: Flickr

Critical Global Issues
Global issues can be defined as any social, economic, political and environmental issues that affect the world in a catastrophic way. Living in the current world certainly has its uncertainties and challenges. There are numerous critical global issues that need immediate attention. Although progress toward solving them is being made, it is rather slow.

Five Critical Global Issues

  1. Biosecurity: Biosecurity refers to the measures taken to reduce the spread or introduction of infectious diseases in animals, plants and human beings. The goal of biosecurity is to prevent various biological risk factors whether natural, accidental or man-made. These risk factors have the potential to cause mass destruction, killing millions of people and causing huge economic loss and instability.
  2. Promoting Effective Altruism: Effective altruism can be described as various ways to benefit others as much as possible using one’s own resources. It involves devoting all kinds of altruistic behavior like time, money, energy and attention to people’s well-being. The four main focus areas of effective altruism are poverty reduction, meta effective altruism, the far future and animal suffering.Charity is one of the many ways to promote effective altruism. In the United States alone, there are about one million charities receiving a total of approximately $200 billion a year. Also, it is not necessary to be a millionaire to be effectively altruistic; even the smallest donation can make a difference in the grand scheme of things.
  3. Social Hostility: Social hostility can also be referred to as conflicts or wars caused due to intolerance and discrimination against others’ beliefs. In the present world, violence and discrimination have reached new heights in almost all regions of the world. Religious conflicts are seen to be strongly prevalent in one-third of the world’s 198 countries and territories. The countries ranking high for such conflicts are Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, Somalia and Israel.
  4. Destruction of Nature: Humans’ destruction of nature is taking a major toll on the world. Deforestation, done for various reasons like farming, cattle grazing, expanding cities and building dams, has caused environmental degradation and climate change. Deforestation has also led to losing 18.7 million acres of forests every year, which equals to 27 soccer fields a minute.Trees help absorb carbon dioxide which helps to cool the planet’s temperature down but the loss of trees from deforestation reverses this process. According to the World Wildlife Fund, 15 percent of greenhouse gas emissions come from deforestation. Thus, destruction of nature is another critical global issue that requires immediate preventive measures.
  5. Children’s Lives: In a report from 2017, UNICEF claims that child mortality has dropped from 12.6 million in 1990 to 5.6 million in 2016. This is a positive change but the number of deaths is still extremely significant; 15,000 children die every day. One of the significant causes of child mortality is malnutrition, while pneumonia, diarrhea and malaria are also significant factors.According to a report published from Save the Children on May 31, 2018, it is estimated that around 1.2 billion children are exposed to at least one of three threats: poverty, conflict or discrimination against girls. 153 million people are at a risk of suffering from all three. For the overall progress toward healthy living and well-being to continue, there is an urgent need to address and assist these vulnerable children.

These are only a few of the world’s most critical global issues. If society is to one day come together and attain total peace and security, these problems must be attended to as soon as possible. The safety of future generations depends on the actions taken now.

– Shweta Roy
Photo: Flickr

5 Ways on How to Stop Desertification
Drought, deforestation and climate change. All of these contribute to the extreme global issue known as desertification. According to the environmental campaign Clean Up the World, desertification is the degradation of land in drylands, which affects all continents except Antarctica. Approximately half of the people worldwide who live below the poverty line live in affected areas.

The result of desertification is barren land that cannot be used for crop and food production or other agricultural purposes. Prevention methods have been introduced and tend to be more successful than attempts to restore already damaged regions, which can be costly and yield limited results.

  1. Land and water management: Sustainable land use can fix issues such as overgrazing, overexploitation of plants, trampling of soils and irrigation practices that cause and worsen desertification.
  2. Protection of vegetative cover: Protecting soil from wind and water erosion helps to prevent the loss of ecosystem services during droughts.
  3. Alternative Farming and Industrial Techniques: Alternative livelihoods that are less demanding on local land and natural resource use, such as dryland aquaculture for production of fish, crustaceans and industrial compounds, limit desertification.
  4. Establish economic opportunities outside drylands: Unpacking new possibilities for people to earn a living, such as urban growth and infrastructure, could relieve and shift pressures underlying the desertification processes.
  5. Great Green Wall: Eleven countries in Sahel-Sahara Africa — Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan, Chad, Niger, Nigeria, Mali, Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Senegal — have focused efforts to fight against land degradation and revive native plant life to the landscape. The initiative, managed in part by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), plants a line of trees as a sustainable way of regenerating the parkland and serves as an example for other problematic locations.

Such large-scale environmental complications may seem troubling to deal with, but the outlined methods and many more make all the difference, giving individuals an idea of how to stop desertification.

Mikaela Frigillana

Photo: Flickr