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Assess the extent to which the impact of, and human response to, volcanic hazards is influenced by the level of economic development of their location
To understand how to answer this question we first need to look at what we mean by level of economic development. The level of economic development is best shown by looking at GDP per capita in which we can see on average how much wealth is shared by the people. Also we need to know what we mean by volcanic hazards. This is when volcanic activity poses a threat to humans or infrastructure. Knowing this, we can now see whether the level of economic development affects the extent of a volcanic impact.
If we take the view that the level of economic development in a country is significant to its response and limitation to a volcanic hazard we need to look at how an MEDC has been affected by a volcano. In a country that has more available wealth because it is economically developed it will have money that it can spend on improving response times and efficiency to a hazard. As a short term method of protecting people an MEDC will be able to fund an emergency response system and with government money the emergency service will be able to improve their training and to create greater access to technology that they can use to save lives. This means that in the result of an emergency, they can reduce the social impact of the hazard as they are better able to assist and are better trained so they can operate more efficiently and therefore, save lives of people. This serves to reduce the steepness of the damage curve on the park model and to shorten the recovery limb. In a lesser economically developed country, they would not be able to fund the training and the equipment required for an effective emergency service. Therefore they will not be able to reduce the social impacts as effectively as was done in an MEDC. This can be seen when looking at Monserrat in which 23 people were killed in a volcanic eruption in the Suffriace hills and is an example of how in a lesser economically developed countries there is a much higher social cost because they are not able to protect their citizens as well. An example of the social impacts in an MEDC is in Iceland and the Eyjafallajokull eruption where nobody was killed.
In a more economically developed country, the government is able to negate a lot of the damage caused and therefore reduce a volcanic hazard. With more advanced predication methods that are being implemented in countries we can see that social impacts can be reduced by evacuating people. The same can be said with both LEDC’s and MEDC’s as scientists will generally monitor more active volcanos for study and then can give warnings to pre-empt an eruption. But only in a more economically developed country can they reduce the impact to property. In a more economically developed country businesses and people can take out insurance and thus reduce the economic impact of losing property in an eruption. Also they will be able to rebuild and get on with life relatively quickly with a more efficient building program. But, in a lesser economically developed country they will not be able to get any insurance as they don’t have the money or anyone offering it. Also, when their property is destroyed they will have nowhere to go apart from a refugee camp. Furthermore, in an MEDC there are generally stricter building regulations that require a house to be much more stable than a house in a LEDC. This means that buildings in higher risk areas that can be seen through hazard mapping will have to be built strong so they can withstand and damage from a volcanic eruption. This includes the strengthening of roofs to negate the impact of Tephra on houses. Therefore, the economic and social impacts are reduced as people are safer in their houses and are less likely to be killed in the event of an eruption, and also their houses are less likely to be damaged and need rebuilding.
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