A disaster is an event that causes hardship, loss of life, or damage to infrastructure, the environment, the economic well-being, or other things that humans value. It is a cultural construct that refers to the relative impact of a hazard. It is important to recognize that a disaster would not exist without some direct impact on humans. A volcanic event, for instance, is an occurrence of a volcano. A volcanic hazard is the threat to humans from impacts of this event. A volcanic disaster is the negative impact of a volcanic hazard on things humans value. Disasters are therefore heavily influenced by a community’s vulnerability to a particular hazard or group of hazards.
As a cultural construct, a disaster may be perceived differently by individual persons or groups of people, and there is no absolute disaster scale. The magnitude of a disaster may not be related to the magnitude of a hazard, highlighting, once again, the important role of vulnerability by humans and...
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