Natural Disasters in a Global Environment is a transnational, global and environmental history of natural and man-made disasters. Detailed case studies of past and present events are presented in a historical narrative, making use of the most recent scholarship.
"Natural Disasters in a Global Environment serves as a much-needed respite from the glossy hyper-produced texts on environmental geology and natural disasters so prevalent today. Instead, Penna and Rivers couple delightful exposition, insightful comparative images, and historical anecdotes that together produce some of the finest science writing I've seen. This book not only could be an outstanding text for a course on the subject, but it also would be a fine read for anyone interested in how the earth 'works.'"
– Donald Siegel, Syracuse University
"This is an impressive collection, wide ranging in time, place and discipline. The result stimulates new thinking both about history and about the ongoing role of catastrophe in the course of human society – altogether, an imaginative venture."
– Peter Stearns, George Mason University
"Eco-anxiety sometimes makes us exaggerate our power over nature for good and ill. In an important, welcome and riveting collaboration between history and science, Penna and Rivers unfold a minatory drama of disasters – seismic, climatic, pandemic, atmospheric, meteoric – that humans can barely influence, let alone control."
– Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, University of Notre Dame
"This skillful record of natural disaster – in climate, epidemics, and earth tremors – shows how society risks further disaster even in planning for safety."
– Patrick Manning, University of Pittsburgh
"Appealing to both students of history and science, this study of natural hazards and vulnerable populations provides an enthralling guide to how disasters have altered the course of human history."
– Greg Bankoff, University of Hull
"Interdisciplinary in methods and reach, Natural Disasters in a Global Environment surveys big ideas in concise and accessible form. This book is an indispensable introduction for everyone who wants to understand human response to disaster – scientists, disaster planners, historians, and policy-makers, students and senior researchers."
– Conevery Bolton Valencius, University of Massachusetts Boston
List of figures x
PART 1 INTERNAL PROCESSES 11
1 Supervolcanoes 13
The Mt. Toba Eruption (73,000 BP) 15
The Thera (Santorini) Eruption in the Aegean Sea (1600 BCE) 20
Mt. Tambora (1815) and Krakatau (1883) 25
The Mt. Pinatubo Eruption (1991) 28
A Threatening Future Scenario 32
Further Reading 37
2 Earthquakes 38
The San Francisco Earthquake (1906) 39
The Great Kanto Earthquake (1923) 48
The Haitian Earthquake (2010) 56
3 Tsunamis 71
Lisbon, Portugal: The Quadruple Disaster (1755) 72
The Lituya Bay Mega-Tsunami (1958) 79
The Sumatra–Andaman Earthquake (2004) 83
The Tôhoku (Japan) Tsunami (2011) 89
Further Reading 104
PART 2 SURFICIAL PROCESSES 105
4 Fire 107
The Burning of Rome (68 CE) 108
The Great Fire of London (1666) 112
The Chicago and Peshtigo Fires (1871) 120
Further Reading 135
5 Floods 136
Central China Floods (1931) 137
The Dutch Flood Disaster (1953) 144
The Bangladesh Floods (1997–98) 149
Further Reading 160
6 Landslides 162
The Turtle Mountain Landslide, Canada (1903) 163
The Aberfan Landslide, Wales (1966) 167
The Ancash Earthquake and Landslide, Peru (1970) 171
The Southern Leyte Landslide, the Philippines (2006) 177
Further Reading 187
7 Pandemic Diseases 189
The Bubonic Plague (1347–51 and After) 190
The Great Infl uenza Pandemic (1918–20) 200
HIV/AIDS (1985–) 210
Further Reading 221
PART 3 ATMOSPHERIC PROCESSES 223
8 Hurricanes, Cyclones, and Typhoons 225
The Labor Day Hurricane in the Florida Keys (1935) 227
The Bhola Cyclone (1970) 236
Super-Typhoon Nina (1975) 244
Further Reading 252
9 Famines and Droughts 253
The Irish Potato Famine (1845–51) 254
The “Dust Bowl” Drought in the American West (1930–40) 262
The Great Leap Forward Chinese Famine (1958–61) 271
Further Reading 285
10 Meteorite Impacts 287
The Creation of Earth’s Moon and the Origins of Meteorites 289
The Yucatán Chicxulub Crater, Mexico (65 MYA) 290
The Clovis Extinction (12,500–12,900 BP) 295
The Tunguska (Siberia) Event (1908) 298
Investigating Future Impacts 301
Further Reading 311
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Anthony N. Penna is Professor Emeritus at Northeastern University. He is the author of Nature's Bounty: Historical and Modern Environmental Perspectives, Remaking Boston: An Environmental History of the City and Its Surroundings (co-edited with Conrad Edick Wright, 2009), and The Human Footprint: A Global Environmental History.
Jennifer S. Rivers is Professor and Director of the Environmental Studies program at Northeastern University. She holds a PhD from Syracuse University in Earth Science and has over thirty published articles in the field of Environmental Science.