are natural disasters increasing frequency strength hazards
Are natural disasters increasing? Yes. Natural disasters are unpreventable occurrences that take place, ranging from mild to absolutely destructive. In recent years, it may seem as if these storms have increased from prior decades.


Natural Disasters: An Upward Trend


According to recent studies, it is true: the number of natural and geophysical disasters taking place each year is noticeably skyrocketing.

Geophysical disasters include earthquakes, volcanoes, dry rock-falls, landslides and avalanches. Climatic disasters are classified as floods, storms, tropical cyclones, local storms, heat/cold waves, droughts and wildfires.

In 1970, the average of natural disasters that were reported was 78; in 2004, this number jumped to 348. According to AccuWeather, since 1990, natural disasters have affected 217 million people every single year.

From 1980 to 2009 there was an 80 percent increase in the growth of climate-related disasters. Between 2001 and 2010, more than $1.2 trillion was lost to the increased rates of natural disasters. This was a dramatic rise, which between 1981 and 1990 had been roughly $528 billion.

With storms such as Typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan, Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Irene, as well as the tsunamis and earthquakes that plagued Japan, a trend is apparent. But what is the cause of the horrific increase in disasters?

Scientists have concluded that the surges in climatic disasters is due to both man-made and natural elements. Contrary to popular belief, the sole cause of the increase is not attributed to global warming.

However, global warming has been increasing the temperatures of the Earth’s oceans and atmosphere. This contributes to the severity of the various types of storm rates rising – as the metaphysical makeup alters, so does the intensity.

Urbanization in regions that are prone to flooding has steadily increased the likelihood that more flash floods and coastal floods will take place. These floods result in mudslides and various injuries that add to the climbing statistics.

But how are humans helping to create typhoons, hurricanes, and earthquakes?

Human Contributions to Natural Disasters


A swell in population plays a large part in natural disasters. Some scientists theorize that natural disasters are not just necessarily increasing, but our methods of tracking them are improving.

With the ability to keep record of these disasters, scientists notice them more frequently than in the past. Limited means of keeping track of the natural disasters meant that the average could not be compared to previous accounts.

Through increasing population, more injuries or deaths occur, even with minor storms. Generally, tropical vacation areas are hot spots for climate tragedies. With hundreds to thousands of individuals clustered in one region, storms can wipe out more surface area in a shorter period of time.

Corresponding with the World Bank’s “Natural Disaster Hotspots: A Global Risk Analysis” reports show that over 160 countries hold more than one-fourth of their populations in regions of high mortality risks from one or more natural disasters.

Although natural disasters themselves have increased, the positive side is that deaths from these catastrophes have declined significantly. The advancement of technology has allowed for the predictions of climate-related disasters to better protect those in harm’s way.

– Samaria Garrett

Sources: Live Science, AccuWeather, Washington Post
Photo: Izi Smile

mario brothers giving
In response to the ravaged regions of Typhoon Haiyan, Jollibee, the flagship Filipino fast food chain of Jollibee Foods Corporation (JFC), donates towards relief efforts.

Initially established in 1975 as an ice cream parlor, Jollibee is now among the largest fast food chains in the Philippines, known for their trademark fried chicken meal “Chickenjoy.” Included in the JFC conglomerate are national fast food chains Greenwhich pizza, Chinese-themed Chowking, chicken-based Mang Inasal and Philippine Burger King.

With numerous sites in North America, Jollibee is an ever-expanding franchise with sites in Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Brunei, Vietnam and Hong Kong.  Currently there are 2,761 stores worldwide. Future sites aim towards Indonesia and Canada.

Jollibee is one of the largest employers in the Philippines, and through its Jollibee Foundation, is known for its philanthropic measures.

In 2009, the Jollibee Franchises Association donated roughly $400,000 (USD) to programs and projects.  The beneficiaries were able to care for the welfare of underprivileged children throughout the Philippines via eight separate children’s organizations.

JFC’s Food Aid program deployed mobile soup kitchens to over 9,000 individuals in the Visayan region of the Philippines, the focal point of the storm. Additionally, 12,800 relief packs and 5,700 hot meals were distributed. These packs included an estimated 600 sacks of rice, bottled water, canned goods and instant noodles.

Along with coin banks in local Jollibee stores nationwide, JFC raised over $900,000 (USD) in combination with donations and donors.

Through further initiatives, JFC plans to aid farmers’ lives, reconstruct local schools and support local youth through scholarships.

As a large conglomerate, all hands are on deck in order to assist amidst one of the largest typhoons recorded in Southeast Asia. The Jollibee Foods Corporation is doing their part via the way they know best: food.

Miles Abadilla

Sources: ABS-CBN News, The Inquirer, The Inquirer, Jollibee Foods Corporation, Philippine News, The Philippine Star

Natural disasters occur every year. Their existence is virtually a law of nature and unfortunately, the loss of life is often a consequence of these devastating events. But despite the certainty in the occurrence of natural disasters, there are things that can be done to mitigate and minimize the effects of these storms. These preparation efforts, when properly implemented, can help substantially reduce the effects of natural disasters.

The Philippines sees about 20 tropical storms each year, which would lead most to believe that the country should have a sophisticated storm preparation plans considering the constant threat to its residents. However, over 10,000 lives were lost in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan. This high death toll indicates that there was likely much that could have been done to prevent the substantial loss of life caused by Typhoon Haiyan. Indeed, there were several things that should have been done differently in preparation for the storm.

1. Inaccurate Early Warning System

While Typhoon Haiyan may have been larger and stronger than most storms that typically hit the Philippines, the danger the storm presented could have been substantially decreased by the presence of a more accurate early warning system. According to University World News, the typhoon came in three hours earlier than warnings suggested and had a storm surge of six meters, which was unexpected. However, the slower development of typhoons, as compared to other rapidly forming natural disasters such as tsunamis, provides for much better preparation than what was provided during Typhoon Haiyan.

2. Underestimating the Storm’s Severity

While early estimates placed the storm surge at six meters, Typhoon Haiyan’s storm surge reached 55 feet, meaning the deadliest element of the typhoon was underestimated. So although hundreds of thousands of people evacuated, they apparently failed to evacuate far enough inland, likely relying on the underestimated storm surge.

Additionally, many residents are believed to have had an inadequate understanding of the meaning of storm surge, which likely also contributed to the failure to evacuate farther inland. According to the secretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development in the Philippines, people were preparing for the usual wind and rain of a typhoon, a misunderstanding that turned out to be catastrophic. Government officials should learn from these mistakes and develop a better method of disseminating information on the effects of typhoons in a simple and easy-to-understand format.

3. Misplaced Focus of Government Officials

In addition to the inaccurate early warning system and residents’ failure to fully grasp the severity of the storm, there are also indications that government officials may have been distracted by a senate hearing which involved the corruption of government officials, which took much needed focus away from storm preparedness efforts. The hearing apparently involved the misappropriation of more than $228 million from tax and government funds by government officials.

This focus on politics is believed by some pundits to have contributed to the neglect of disaster risk reduction, such as evacuating people who lived on low-lying, urbanized, coastal areas of islands, areas which were considered to be under threat by several initial reports.

Cavarrio Carter

Sources: University World News, USA Today, Christian Science Monitor, International Business Times

Justin Bieber Charity
International pop star Justin Bieber flexes his humanitarian muscle in the effort to help the victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines by providing aid relief.

From books to water, Bieber brought along with him necessities and supplies meant to reconstruct the lives of those negatively affected by the largest typhoon to hit the Southeast with roughly over 5,000 individuals dead and many more displaced.

Bieber also participated in the Philippine national pastime by playing basketball matches with locals in the city of Tacloban, the Visayan metropole of the Leyte province, a region largely affected by the storm. Additionally, Bieber sang an accoustic performance to the local community.

In cooperation with UNICEF, Action Against Hunger and the Philam Foundation, Bieber offers numerous prizes if they donate to the cause. Among these is a studio tour or VIP tickets to Bieber’s movie premiere “Believe”.

To date, Bieber has raised $3 million dollars.’s recent philanthropic efforts are a change of pace from recent headlines in the past few months. Bieber was caught on video urinating into a bucket at the back of a New York City restaurant.

A month later, Bieber was in an altercation wherein the 19-year old ripped off his shirt at a New York City club during a confrontation with other patrons. Bieber’s entourage was reported to have gotten physical and involved in an altercation with fellow clients.

Bieber joins fellow celebrities in the push to helping the ravaged country to getting back on its feet. Using Prizeo, Bieber, along with other Prizeo users Samuel L. Jackson, Kirsten Bell and One Direction’s Harry Styles and Liam Payne, promoted a cause and offered rewards.

Whether his image be in the positive or negative light, the estimated net worth of $130 million pop star has undergone a certain stage of rebranding. From being a YouTube sensation towards a developing ‘bad boy’ image, Bieber and his actions will remain in the constant public eye.

Miles Abadilla

Sources: Billboard, Business Insider, Huffington Post, Huffington Post, The Mirror, The Mirror

Los Angeles Lakers’ Pau Gasol donated $24,000 for victims of Typhoon Haiyan after scoring 24 points during the match against the Golden State Warriors November 22.

Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines in early November, killing more than 5,000 people and displacing millions of Filipinos, particularly in the central Leyte province of the Visayan Islands.

For his part, Gasol pledged to donate $1,000 for every point he scored. With a Laker victory of 102-96, Gasol’s contributions will go towards the U.S. Fund for UNICEF relief efforts.

The Friday night match at the L.A. Lakers’ home turf, the Staples Center, did not include Warrior and Lakers stars Stephen Curry and Kobe Bryant. The Lakers proved more than capable with Gasol scoring 16 points during the first half of the match.

Gasol promoted the cause via his Twitter account, which has 2.3 million followers as well as on the U.S. Fund for UNICEF. Additionally, Gasol encouraged others to pledge any amount from $1 to $20 to match his donations and scores during the game. To this date, according to the U.S. for UNICEF website, $13,476 were donated.

As reported by ESPN, Gasol commented, “That’s what I was hoping to accomplish, to get people to also pledge and contribute and donate along with me so that we could have a bigger impact.”

In the past, Gasol made a similar pledge for the 2011 Haiti relief fund and for the victims of the Japanese 2011 earthquake and Pacific tsunami. Gasol donated $20,000 to the former and $26,000 to the latter.

Gasol joins the industry in providing aid as the L.A. Lakers previously donated $150,000 towards Haiyan relief efforts through the Philippine Red Cross. Moreover, the NBA and the NBA Players Association donated $250,000 to the same UNICEF fund.

Miles Abadilla 

Sources: CrowdRise, NBC, ESPN, Huffington Post, LA Lakers, CBS
Photo: Philstar

Music has always been one of the most provocative and powerful mediums to promote advocacy and change.  From the protest folk of Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan, to the Civil Rights soul of Sam Cooke and Curtis Mayfield, to the politically poignant hip hop of The Roots and Mos Def, music engages us with the issues of our time on an emotional level.

Last week, some of music’s most well known figures joined together to release Songs for the Philippines on iTunes.  Stars both past and present are featured on the album, the proceeds of which will go solely to the Philippine Red Cross to aid in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan.

Packed with 39 songs (many of which are classics) and a price tag of $9.99, the album makes for a wonderful addition to your holiday shopping list.  Some of the artists included on the album are Bob Dylan, Beyonce, Eminem, The Beatles, Lady Gaga, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Earth Wind & Fire. Where else can you find such an eclectic mix?  The variety alone makes it a great purchase.

Benefit albums have become a staple for iTunes following natural disasters.  Songs for Japan was released in 2011 to support the victims of the tsunami in Japan.  Much like Songs for the Philippines, Songs for Japan featured a similar variety of artists ranging from John Lennon to U2 to Foo Fighters.  These benefit albums show how the music industry can stand united to support a greater cause.

Of course, that is not to suggest that the artists are randomly chosen.  “This brilliant collection is united by a message of hope and compassion,” according to the iTunes synopsis of Songs for the Philippines.  With titles such as “Hero,” “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You),” “Carry You Home,” and of course, “Let It Be,” it’s easy to see such themes.

Songs for the Philippines is a great way to show your support and compassion for the people of the Philippines.  Oh, and in the unlikely event that you already own all 39 songs on the collection, iTunes features a link to the American Red Cross’s donation site for Typhoon Haiyan relief right beside the album.  There is no reason not to contribute.

– Taylor Diamond

Sources: Huffington Post, Spin, iTunes
Photo: Straits Times

Manny Pacquiao is much more than a national sports hero for the people of the Philippines.  He is a sign of resolve, strength, and hope in the face of a horrific disaster.

On November 23, Pacquiao began his boxing comeback against Brandon Rios in Macau for the WBO Welterweight title.  Leading up to the fight, Pacquiao proclaimed that he would dedicate his effort in honor of the victims of the devastating typhoon that hit the Philippines earlier this month.  Pacquiao almost always dedicates his fights to the people of his native country, but this time, that dedication had special meaning.

When the typhoon hit, Pacquiao was embroiled in his brutal training schedule leading up to the match.  In lieu of abandoning his training to visit the region, Pacquiao decided to push forward in order to win the match and give the people of the Philippines a much-needed reason to celebrate.

The “super typhoon” that ravaged the Philippines is one of the most deadly and tragic national disasters in global history.  Typhoon Haiyan, as it has been named, is responsible for 3,976 deaths, 1,598 missing persons, and 18,175 injuries, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.  The brunt of the damage was felt in the Eastern Visayas region.  The region’s largest city, Tacloban, is unrecognizable from the structural damage and the breakdown of communication systems.

But as an example of the importance of “Pac-Man,” Manny Pacquiao’s nickname, to the people of the Philippines, the country’s leaders worked with Sky Cable to telecast the match at a local sports stadium in Tacloban for all to see.  Even in the face of such historic destruction, a Pacquiao victory would provide an “opportunity for us to relax and unite as a people,” says Eduardo del Rosario, Civil Defense Chief of the Philippines.

Pacquiao delivered. In a unanimous decision, Pacquiao defeated Brandon Rios for the championship belt, and with it, gave the Philippines a cause for cheer.  While a victory in the ring, unfortunately, cannot undo the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan, it does embody the indomitable spirit of the Philippines.

– Taylor Diamond

Sources: Boston Herald, Huffington Post
Photo: HBO

It is almost impossible to watch a program on television without seeing an advertisement from one of America’s top pizza restaurants, Pizza Hut. Pizza Hut is a subsidiary of Yum! Brands, Inc. and is known for delivering more pizza, pasta and wings than any other restaurant in the world. The Pizza Hut name has come very far since its invention in Wichita, Kansas 55 years ago.

Pizza Hut is also a top partner of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), the world’s largest effort to fight hunger worldwide. Pizza Hut has been involved with WFP since 2007 and has donated over $10 million in the form of over 40 million meals to fight hunger in the United States. Pizza Hut also founded the Pizza Hut Harvest Program to independently donate meals to shelters in the United States.

Pizza Hut recently declared that a designated percentage of its World Hunger Relief donations will go to the Philippines. The recent typhoon in the Philippines has left 2.5 million survivors hungry and in need of food. Scott Bergren, President and CEO of Pizza Hut, emphasized the importance of aid to the survivors when he said “the purpose and intent of our partnership with the World Food Programme is to provide relief through food to those most in need, and nowhere is that need more urgent now than in the Philippines.” Bergren also took a moment to thank the WFP for allowing Pizza Hut and Yum! Brands to help so many people.

Other major companies such as Royal Caribbean Cruises, FedEx and Google have also donated to those in the Philippines in light of the recent tragedy.

Lienna Feleke-Eshete

Sources: CNN MoneyMarket Watch
Photo: Entrepreneur

Over 5,000 deaths have been reported in connection to the recent typhoon in the Philippines. An estimated 1,000 people remain missing in the aftermath.

Over 20 nations sent aid within hours of the reported disaster. Celebrities have responded with their own versions of aid.

Victoria Beckham and Kim Kardashian are the latest fashion lovers to lend their assistance. On November 20, Beckham posted a picture of an extensive pile of shoes on her twitter account. The caption read “Big clear out of my shoes, on sale tomorrow in aid of British Red Cross.”

The retired singer and her husband, David, decided to clean out their closets for the British Red Cross store located in London. Proceeds from the sale will benefit the organization’s current charity work in the Philippines.

The collection features notable pieces including outfits from Beckham’s time with the British singing group, the Spice Girls, and hats worn by David.

Higher end pieces from designers Dolce and Gabbana, Jimmy Choo and Roberto Cavalli were also available for purchase by the public.

Kim Kardashian has also used her love of fashion to help others. The thirty-three year old recently revealed that 10% of the profits from her current clothes auction on eBay will be donated to the International Medical Corps, which is currently serving those in need of basic supplies and medical care in the Philippines.

The star has recently drawn criticism from the public for not donating more. Celebrity blogger Perez Hilton explained that in contrast to the multi-million dollar empire shared by her and her family, her donation is a fraction of her earning.

The blogger also defended the star, stating that Kardashian may be helping in other ways unknown to the public.

– Jasmine D. Smith

Sources: Huffington Post, Daily Mail, ABC News, Perez Hilton
Photo: Daily Record