Since the dawn of time itself, humankind has faced several natural disasters and risen to become one of the most successful species in the world’s natural history. Therefore, it is no surprise that the human spirit can endure incredible challenges and persevere nevertheless.
Currently, the entire world is struggling to find its grip against the novel coronavirus and its different mutations. However, this is not our first time facing a natural disaster that threatens our survival.
We have done it before and will do it again. In this blog of Welcoming Optimism, we look at some of the worst natural disasters we have faced and how we recovered from them.
1. The Ice Age
While the franchise animated movies were fun to watch, the actual ice ages were far from an adventure with a woolly mammoth.
The most recent Ice Age had reached its peak some 18,000 years ago and is often referred simply as The Ice Age. Humans were by far the least equipped to handle such a massive drop in temperature.
They lacked the woolly coating or high subcutaneous fat of the megafauna that was present during the time. However, our ancestors were able to survive the era until the interglacial period of the Holocene and even became the most dominant land mammal.
By the power of intelligence. Mankind used bridges to move towards a more temperate climate, avoiding the wrath of natural disasters. They even learned how to use bone needles and furs to sew warm clothes.
2. 1894 Third Plague Pandemic
As far as disease-based natural disasters are concerned, few beat the third plague pandemic of 1894. It started with the spread of the bubonic plague that originated from the Yunnan province in China. The deadly plague spread to port cities like then Bombay and Calcutta.
The plague cost the lives of millions, with some estimations ranging between 12 million and 15 million, with the majority of it (around 10 million) coming from India alone.
However, humanity was yet to lose the battle against one of the most infectious natural disasters.
French bacteriologist, Alexander Yersin, isolated the bacteria and found the standard mode of transmission. The British Indian government commissioned medical researcher Waldemar Haffekine to develop a vaccine.
Haffkine worked hard for three months with a limited team, and soon his developed vaccine was ready for clinical trials. In 1897, he tested the vaccine on himself and then followed it up with testing on volunteers of Byculla jail. The vaccine’s success resulted in the immunization of over 4 million people. Haffkine was appointed the Director of the Plague Laboratory in Bombay. According to WHO, the pandemic was considered active till 1960, when worldwide deaths finally went below 200/year.
3. 1999 Odisha Cyclone and 2013 Cyclone Phailin
The 1999 Odisha Cyclone was the most robust tropical cyclone to make landfall till that year. Hitting the shores on 29th October, it reportedly killed around 10,000 people in a single sweep catastrophe, making it one of the most gruesome natural disasters ever witnessed.
Thousands of people in the state were displaced, and there were even breakouts of cholera and diarrhea in the region. It took time for Odisha to recover, but the cyclone gave the state a horrific alarm bell, and Odisha decided to act upon it.
Soon, the government prepared rapid action disaster management teams that were trained to handle such situations. Their hard work and preparation showed its effectiveness during the 2013 Cyclone Phailin, which was even deadlier than the 1999 cyclone and reached wind speeds of 140 mph!
However, this time their preparation limited the number of reported deaths to 23. At the same time, 9000 people were evacuated to protect them from the brunt of the storm.
These are not the only times that humanity has battled for its survival against natural disasters. There are many such instances within the pages of history.
If you feel you have a personal natural disaster story worth sharing, write it down in the comments section below!