Skip to content

7 man-made natural disasters

There are many disasters that occur because of nature itself, from tsunamis and earthquakes to long droughts and floods. However, in numerous cases over the last centuries, human beings have been the culprit of causing serious disasters in nature and many of them caused irreparable damage to the planet. From fires and explosions to polluting spills they have been caused by the hand of man.

At AgroCorrn we want to review these 7 natural disasters caused by man , because we consider that it is important to remember them, learn from them and try not to repeat them ever.

You may also be interested in: Environmental impact of oil and natural gas
  1. Oil Dumped into the Oceans: Prestige and Exxon Valdez
  2. The great plastic islands
  3. Nuclear disasters: Castle Bravo and Chérnobil
  4. Oil fires in Kuwait
  5. Jilin Petrochemical Factory Explosions
  6. The Bhopal disaster
  7. The well of Darvaza is the door to hell

Oil Dumped into the Oceans: Prestige and Exxon Valdez

Unfortunately, there have been many oil spills into the seas and oceans due to oil tankers that transported it, some even dumping its entire content into the waters, that is, tons of this highly polluting product. Of course, they have been accidents but at an irreparable cost to the planet.

Some of the best known were the Prestige disaster in Galicia, Spain, on November 13, 2002. 77,000 tonnes of fuel oil were spilled when the ship was pierced and eventually sinking. Without a doubt, this was one of the biggest natural disasters caused by man in Spain, but also in the entire world. Another well-known was Exxon Valdez , which ran aground in Alaska on March 24, 1989 and dumped 37,000 tons.

Besides, there have been many other cases of oil slicks , such as Amoco Cádiz, which is the one in the image below.

The great plastic islands

One of the biggest environmental catastrophes is still present and continues to increase every day. These are the so-called plastic islands, of which there are thousands in the oceans and seas. However, the most worrying is the so-called giant plastic soup or island found in the Pacific Ocean. It is estimated that until recently it contained more than 1.4 square kilometers of garbage and more than 100 million tons of it, but it is getting bigger every day.

Find out more about what plastic islands are and how they form in this other AgroCorrn article.

Nuclear disasters: Castle Bravo and Chérnobil

Without a doubt, one of the worst environmental disasters was Castle Bravo . This is the code name they gave to the largest nuclear explosion ever, the one that occurred during Operation Castle. It is another clear example of how the hand of man has accelerated the destruction of the planet, as this disaster ended the lives of many and a large part of the territory.

The cause was the thermonuclear bomb launched as a test in the Marshall Islands, in Micronesia, in 1954. The well-known mushroom cloud, due to the shape of the “smoke” after the explosion, had a power of 15 megatons, much more than that they thought it would reach. The result was the immediate destruction of the area and the radiological contamination spread not only in this part, but also affected the nearest islands and even the boats in the area. Thus, the entire territory is devastated and contaminated with radiation, dying people, plants and animals, although there were survivors who had serious consequences throughout their lives.

Something similar happened at Chernobyl, the most serious nuclear disaster ever. The explosion of the Chernobyl reactor in 1986, but ended at the moment the lives of more than 30 people, followed harming the environment and those in inhabiting the area, and affected countries such as Ukraine, Belarus and Russia. Many died over the following years due to this problem, others were born with serious health problems and malformations because of it and, furthermore, there is still radiation there today.

Oil fires in Kuwait

Another of the disasters caused by man in nature, and that therefore affect all kinds of life including us, was the oil fires in Kuwait that occurred during the first Gulf War . It was the Iraqi military forces who started the fire, igniting 700 oil wells . Not only did they start the fires, but they also made sure the fire was even more difficult to control by laying mines around it, making it impossible for firefighters and other aid agencies to do anything about it.

The result was that the fires were active for the next 10 months, producing an unimaginable level of pollution of the air , soil and nearby groundwater.

Jilin Petrochemical Factory Explosions

In 2005 another of the worst man-made catastrophes for the environment occurred and happened in Jilin, China. In a petrochemical factory there was a chain of explosions that, in addition to killing several people, left behind serious damage to the planet, as huge amounts of nitrobenzene and benzene were dumped into the Songhua River . They are not only directly harmful to the environment, but in addition to being toxic when breathed in, they also cause cancer in the long term, either by inhaling them continuously or by ingesting them even in small doses, through contaminated water or food grown on contaminated soil.

Within a few days after the accident, a benzene stain about 80 kilometers long could be clearly seen in the water. The inhabitants closest to the area, mainly Harbin, were without water supply for quite some time.

The image below shows the explosions at this petrochemical plant in Jilin .


The Bhopal disaster

Bhopal, India, suffered a human disaster that took a heavy toll. The 1984 Bhopal disaster occurred when the Union Carbide pesticide plant leaked methyl isocyanate , a highly toxic element in the form of a gas. The error was human, they were wrong, and there was an investment in maintenance equipment that resulted in this leak.

Between 6,000 and 8,000 people died in the first week after this disaster, but more than 12,000 more died within a short time. It is considered that in total it affected more than half a million people. All kinds of animals and plants died and the entire environment was contaminated by this toxic substance and heavy metals. Even today the consequences are suffered and it is not a safe area to live in.

The well of Darvaza is the door to hell

Finally, although there have been and still are many more natural disasters caused by man , we explain why the well of Darvaza is called “The gate of hell”.

The Darvaza well or crater is in Turkmenistan and is in what was a gas prospect that ended up becoming a huge and fiery crater. Specifically, it measures 30 meters deep and 69 meters in diameter. Its temperature reaches 400ºC.

The gas prospecting was carried out by Soviet geologists in 1971. Working in the area and camped on site, their work area and camp sank into an underground cave that contained a large amount of natural gas. The simplest solution they could find at the time, to prevent the problem from getting worse and there was a large escape of dangerous gases, was to set the gas on fire. They did so believing that in a few days it would be consumed and extinguished, because they did not believe that the amount was as great as it really is, since the fire has been burning for almost half a century . Of course, the damage to the environment is tremendous in many ways.

If you want to read more articles similar to 7 natural disasters caused by man , we recommend that you enter our Pollution category .

Maria Anderson

Hello, I am a blogger specialized in environmental, health and scientific dissemination issues in general. The best way to define myself as a blogger is by reading my texts, so I encourage you to do so. Above all, if you are interested in staying up to date and reflecting on these issues, both on a practical and informative level.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *