Society is a complex and interactive community that is built on creating, trading, producing, and selling. The reason for this is that society wants to evolve in order to create a better and more advanced world. A major key to this goal is business. Businesses are the foundation of local, regional, and national economies, and they take a great responsibility in sustaining the livelihood of individuals, the state of the environment, and the quality of life in general.
In disaster research, businesses have only recently begun to be studied. Past analyses on the effects of disasters have only been conducted on public sector organizations rather than the individual firms and enterprises, such as businesses. Private businesses are responsible for providing a vast array of goods and services that improve the lives of each individual as well as the environment. Thus, when disasters negatively affect businesses, it results in disruption which produces economic issues, loss of jobs, low income, debt burdens, and creates challenges for communities and businesses to recover.
Back in July 2011, Thailand experienced its worst floods in 50 years, the product of heavy monsoon rains, and it continued to occur for several months. It not only claimed the lives of more than 600 people, but it forced a halt to Honda assembly lines in Thailand after more than 1,000 factories have been closed. This significantly affected the automobile market because Thailand is one of the countries that are major contributors to the production of Honda cars around the world. Honda suspended operations at its assembly plant in Ayutthaya, in the north of Bangkok, on October 4, 2011 as the floods greatly ravaged the area.
This plant can produce 240,000 vehicles a year and is 5% of Honda’s global output, but ever since it had been damaged by the floods, the company did not know when they could re-open. Honda’s North American operation reduced production in six plants in the U.S. and Canada because there was a disruption in the flow of parts. 1,055 units of muddy Honda cars in the Honda automobile plant in Ayutthaya province have also been damaged by the flood therefore forcing the company to completely destroy these cars to assure customers that the flood-damaged cars would not be repaired and sold. Honda had lost market shares in the U.S. and Europe, and in Europe, Honda’s sales were 22% lower in the year to September 2011. The effects the floods had on Honda in Thailand gave the company a financial and economic crisis; this only shows how natural disasters can have a massive impact on enterprises and businesses.
Disasters such as floods, typhoons, hurricanes, fires and tornados can pose as a danger for all living creatures. Aside from this, it can also disrupt and affect the education of students. As disasters could destroy school institutions and buildings, students end up not being able to go to school. In addition to this, even with no structural damages, students are prevented from going to school during and after disasters because there are still risks and dangers. For example, there could be expectable earthquake aftershocks and cracks on walls after a major earthquake. There could also be unspotted live wires and broken electrical equipment that could harm the students if not seen. With this, it is necessary for proper inspections after every disaster to ensure that the students will be safe in school. In 2010, 11,000 schools in Pakistan were destroyed caused by a heavy monsoon that results to flooding; this includes damaged school supplies and equipment such as books, chairs, and tables. Researchers have proven that after a disaster, students’ academic performance worsened and there was an increased percentage of absences.
Extreme weather events can affect and negatively impact the health of different people such as the elderly, the youth, the children, the ill, and the poor. Based on Figure 2.1, diarrhea is one of the main common diseases that causes 40% of deaths due to a polluted water source during transportation and storage. During the flooding in Bangladesh, about 17,000 cases of diarrhea were reported. Investigators in Indonesia reported that Salmonella enterica serotype paratyphi A was found as the cause of the diarrhea. Salmonella enterica serotype paratyphi A bacteria contaminates the food of animals thus affecting their organs, which are eaten by people. Consequently, some of these bacteria enter into the epithelium cells, which are found at the uppermost layer of the intestinal tissue. They remain in the tissues and cause the body to exhibit the symptoms of diarrhea.
A factor that increases health issues during disasters is flood. Floods, especially standing waters, may contain human and livestock waste and contaminants that may cause illnesses. It may also contain carcinogenic compounds like arsenic and mercury that may come from coal ash waste. These may cause skin rashes, wound infections, tetanus, gastrointestinal illness, and leptospirosis. Based on the Figure 2.1, during typhoons and earthquakes that occur in India, Mozambique, Thailand, China and Taiwan, leptospirosis occurs as the common health disease. Leptospirosis is mainly caused by flood waters where urine of animals freely flows through and comes in contact with the skin of humans who submerge any part of their body in the water from the flood. The urine, which comes from infected animals, enters through the contact of open wounds of skin.
Floods do not only affect the health of humans through diseases, but also the overall sanitation of the community. In the floods of India and Thailand in the year 2000, investigators reported that there was an increase of epidemics associated with the contact of drinking and bathing in the contaminated water. This was due to improper handling, transportation, and storage of water during disasters.
Disasters are inevitable and occur because of both natural phenomena and human activity. One of the most evident and significant effects it has would be in the agriculture and food security of a particular community. The fact that these two things mainly rely on things like livestock, land, water, sunlight, temperature and other environmental conditions makes them more susceptible to environmental catastrophes. These disasters may come as storms, floods, tornadoes, earthquakes, landslides, volcanic eruptions, diseases, and more. All of these geological and weather related disasters can lead to a total wipeout of a field of crops and plantations due to the strength and severity of these kinds of disasters. Plantations require a lot of water to be able to grow maturely, but a heavy rate of strong downfall, gushing winds, and flooding would consequently lead to the destruction of these plantations. This would greatly affect the consumers who buy products from these farms and fields since they rely on these products for sustenance, income, and many more. The same is applied for geological tremors like earthquakes, landslides, and volcanoes. Unfortunately, these calamities cannot be prevented and hindered because they are natural occurrences brought by mother nature.
As of 2017, the costs for recoveries from natural disasters reached one of its highest peaks, costing a staggering at least $1 billion for each disaster in the United States. The United States had 16 major disasters last 2017 and it took at least $1 billion to fix the damages and help the communities to recover. Majority of these disasters occurred since the 1990s, one example would be crop freezing. Crop freezing happens when water expands as it freezes, and the freezing and unthawing of a crop can damage its structure and allow it to die. Crop freezing has been a common disaster to major agriculture states in the United States, mainly the Southeastern part. This includes states like South Carolina, Florida, and Georgia which produce a substantial amount of crops for the entire country and even for the world.
Epidemics, otherwise known as a widespread occurrence of an infectious disease within a community at a particular time, also affect agriculture, especially in countries where the economy thrives in this sector, an example would be the country Liberia. The 2014-2016 Ebola Virus Disease that took a devastating human and economic toll on West African countries significantly affected Liberia, one of the poorest African countries. There is undeniable evidence that this epidemic had adverse effects on the livelihoods of individuals and communities in affected areas, however a research has shown that it had lasting impacts on income, food security, and crop production. The researchers discovered that the community-level incidence of the Ebola Virus Disease negatively affected crop production of farm households, and this may have caused the issue of food security throughout Liberia. Farm households in the sample had consumed 85% of their own production, and they greatly depended on their own agricultural production and harvest for survival. Thus, the Ebola Virus Disease had adverse effects on agriculture and food security, and it was found that the higher Ebola prevalence led to greater disruption of planting and harvesting. This comes to show that most forms of natural disasters significantly affect the lives of people through agriculture and food security by destroying plantations, lessening the production of food, hindering farming activities, and many more.
In assessing the effects of disasters on the environment, there are both costs and benefits to the ecological systems. Disasters, such as earthquakes, floods, and landslides, leave disastrous consequences and damages that are both costly and dangerous for the environment. For example, hurricanes and tropical storms leave environmental damage in large regions within its path. This includes damaged trees, landslides, and erosion of shores and beaches. Furthermore, it increases soil erosion rates, damage wooded ecosystems, and defoliate forest canopies. In addition to this, animals can be either killed or indirectly impacted in terms of habitat, competition, and food availability. These are all results of possible storm surges, intense rainfall, and extreme winds. Storm surges may also cause changes in shoreline position and coastal landscape. Hurricanes in the United States such as Katrina (2005) and Ike (2008) left changes in shoreline positions of about 328ft. Every tropical storm or hurricane would leave different impacts depending on the amount of rainfall, the wind intensity, speed, and size.
Although earthquakes do leave damages to structures and risks to human life, these disasters also have adverse effects on the environment. Firstly, whenever there is intensive shaking and ruptures on the ground, certain areas in the surface ground get cracked. Ground failure can also be caused by soil weakening or liquefaction due to the pressure from the earthquake. Landslides may also result from earthquakes due to weak rock and soil collapse.
With all the consequences and damages that result from disasters, ecological systems have slowly adapted to extreme events. For example, major natural imbalances such as fires and floods can serve as a way to rejuvenate forests. In addition to this, maximum diversity is maintained through the survival of specific species. If disasters occur infrequently, then the species who grow slowly and depend on light, water, and nutrients replace the short-lived species. Another example of a benefit would also be the strengthening of trees due to thinning tree branches caused by high winds and ice accumulations.
Aside from these effects, disasters also impact the energy industry greatly. One of the most common impacts is power outages; these often make it difficult and dangerous for rescue teams and stranded victims. Consequently, people result to using candles which can cause fires if left unattended. Furthermore, people also require alternative sources of energy and methods for cooking food. Another common occurrence during disasters are downed power lines and poles; live wires can cause death and injury. This case worsens during rain.
During typhoons and storms, businesses are often closed as employees are not able to work; this results in a disruption in oil and gas production, which will also impact the market. During Hurricane Harvey (2017), at least 98 offshore drilling platforms were shutdown and evacuated due to the storm. Almost 20% of oil production was temporarily stopped and 18% of natural gas production was also shut down. In addition to this, transmission infrastructure and power plants were also highly affected by high winds and flooding. In Texas, wind turbines were all shut off to prevent damage. In summary, disasters often temporarily stop energy production and can possibly cause power outages and blackouts. These usually during and after the disaster and can last for weeks, affecting businesses and households greatly.