A human race is considered to be the greatest biological force in terms of the scale of its activities. With possessing all the advantages of the modern technical and scientific evolution, humanity started to subdue nature and began to perform the environmental transformations that were impossible in the past. At the same time, the humankind has initiated series of irreversible processes, which manifest themselves from time to time in the form of environmental disasters.
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Starting from the times of industrialization when more technologies evolved and more discoveries have been made, the appetite for the fruits of this evolution grew in parallel. Intrusions into the natural environment became more tangible; humans changed riverbeds, formed artificial lakes, flattened mountains, and drilled wells covering the Earth’s surface with numerous elements of their activities. A demand to produce energy for increasing population and enlarging cities was aimed at the planet’s natural resources.
On a February morning of 1972, a small place called Buffalo Creek Hollow was shaken by the devastating catastrophe that took lives of hundreds of people injuring thousands and resulting in a vast damage of millions of dollars. This horrible event is known in history as Buffalo Creek flood. Unable to withstand the pressure of the rising water level, the Dam No. 3 collapsed unleashing millions of toxic waste gallons and water, literally washing away everything on its way. It was the result of a human-made device failure – the dam holding back the creek (Bell, Greene, Fisher, & Baum, 2005).
Investigations indicated that the coal company “Buffalo Mining” had obligations to inform the authorities about the water treatment activities. However, the appropriate constructions in the form of a three-level reservoir cascade was built with engineering and technical blunders which, in turn, resulted in a tragedy. The Buffalo Creek flood is an example of a case in which corporate negligence led to an unnatural disaster (Bryant, 2003). It took decades to rebuilt the destroyed towns and clean the area that was drowned in the so-called “black water”.
In the 21st century, the energy production is not enough; there should be ways to make it environmentally acceptable (Orr, Bent, & Baker, 2002). Today, the damaged area is completely restored, and yet, people cannot feel completely safe and protected from such catastrophes in the future. Natural disasters that occur because of humans are not one-shot events; they usually consist of the series of interrelated actions which eventually lead to the cataclysms. Since money and enrichment is the main driving force for most of the big companies, omissions in workers’ safety and the environment protection will always be of low priority. Measureless greed instigates human to go so far by literally sucking up all the possible natural resources and disregarding the disastrous outcome of this intervention in the natural environment. Probably, one of the most efficient ways to prevent such calamities would be presenting a special rigorous set of terms for the companies that carry out activities with the potential risks of provoking natural disasters. Another helpful amendment would be a tenfold increase of fines for each violation of the above-mentioned terms. The fear of incurring substantial financial losses would force the companies to act more responsively in everything that is related to the natural environment and its protection. However, from an average consumer’s perspective, the energy source is worth the risk as, in this case, the answer lies deep in the ego of every human being. Until people are able to breath fresh air, have drink water supplies, provide their homes and offices with heat during wintertime and cool during summer, the vast majority of them will turn a blind eye on these disasters. On the other hand, it is crucial to work more efficiently on realizing the learned lessons and keeping the environment safe preventing from such calamities. Hopefully, it is not too late.
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