A hazard is something which is known to cause harm. It is a source of danger to the health.
Thus, environmental hazard is a broad term used in defining occurrence such as earthquake, and pollution. These occurrences are brought about by natural forces on the earth surface and human activities.
Environmental hazards can be a gradual or slow process. It can also be as sudden and swift as earthquakes, lightening etc.
Environmental hazards can also have global dimensions such as global warming and depletion of the ozone layer which can be man-made or naturally occurring.
Man-made hazards are hazards resulting from human activities such as bush burning, land degradation, etc.
Natural hazards are elements of circumstances in the natural environment that have the potential to cause harm to people or property.
Environmental hazards pose a number of threats to humans and the environment, some relatively minor but others very severe.
An environmental (natural) hazard only becomes a disaster when it affects people, and disrupts their daily functioning. This causes deaths, physical damage to buildings, and long-term economic damage.
It is usually the poor that are hit hardest by these disasters, and they would normally have no access to formal insurance mechanism to protect the few assets they have.
Many poor countries are less prepared because they lack proper preventive measures.
The divide between richer and poorer countries will only increase unless countries work together to share ideas and support each other. Financial support is essential but it is not the only support needed. Preventing these hazards should be more important.
Environmental hazards are natural processes so they cannot be stopped. Nonetheless, their frequency and severity can be certainly minimized through appropriate measures.
Better understanding of such processes can help people manage hazards.
Some of the vital steps required to prevent environmental hazards include: afforestation, restricting development of projects in hazardous areas, restraining indiscriminate mining, etc.
We should count ourselves lucky that Nigeria doesn’t experience these environmental hazards.