The World has never been as vulnerable to natural events, human conflict or man made disasters. Collectively we have become dependent on co-ordinated organisations to supply us with everything we depend on in life. Our resilience to disaster recovery is being stretched to the limits. How would we cope if a sudden disaster strikes the whole of the UK?
Global warming is being blamed for more extreme weather events and unprecedented rainfall levels are leading to record flooding disasters. In 2007, Gloucestershire experienced one of the worst civil emergencies this country has endured when two months rain fell in 14 hours.
Electricity was lost to 48,000 homes for two days and the whole county came close to having no power at all. Over half the homes in Gloucestershire were without any mains drinking water for 17 days affecting 350,000 people.
As we become more reliant on technology in our day to day lives, the impact of a cyber attack disrupting our technological systems could bring the country to a standstill. Any terrorist event may cause severe disruption to the distribution of electricity, gas and water supplies.
Communication and transport systems, the co ordination of the emergency services and payment by electronic means could be all interrupted for weeks.
The recent extreme winter weather has highlighted how vulnerable this country is to freezing temperatures and excessive snowfall. These events have affected our national transport routes and in turn have obstructed the restocking of our supermarkets. Any prolonged disruption would severely test the ability of the ‘just in time’ logistical system.
These electromagnetic radiation releases from the sun have the ability to knock out electric power for extended periods of time. The Sun is reaching an active cycle soon when these events are more likely and stronger in ferocity. NASA has taken the threat seriously enough recently by launching a satellite to monitor the situation.
The greatest risk to human health on a global scale at the moment is a virulent outbreak of swine or bird flu. This mutation of the influenza virus could easily kill many millions around the world as there is no immunity in the human population. In the UK an outbreak will overwhelm the health service, many businesses and services will close due to worker illness for weeks or months. This disruption will cause a major impact on society.
Severe Weather Events
The risk from extreme weather events is likely to increase and the amount of damage caused by high-intensity storms will double. It has been reported that Hurricanes in the North Atlantic are more frequent now than in the past 1000 years. These and other extreme high wind events will present a serious test for UK power supplies and lines of communication were disruption level could be very high.
The riots in the summer of 2011 saw the underclass loot sportswear, could 2012 be the year they plunder food? In the first few days of a major disaster in the UK the breakdown of law & order could be caused by hunger as people start to panic not knowing where their next meal will come from.
It has been estimated that after four missed meals the population may resort to looting or violence against their neighbours to feed themselves and their families.
The financial collapse of the Euro currency could start a domino effect that leaves the global banking system vulnerable to failure. It would be highly likely that in the short term money could become worthless, the only currency with value maybe those items that sustain life.
Global warming will pose a severe risk to political, economic and social stability around the world. In some countries it will mean drought, famine and war, leading in turn to mass migration as desperate people seek life in the countries with resources. An increasingly high level of food we consume in the UK is imported and all of our cities are reliant on supplies from outside. Crop failure in the UK is also a possibility, it would highlight that our food supply is not as secure or plentiful as we imagined.
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