Water covers two thirds of the earth’s surface, and we are utterly dependent on it, but when this vital ingredient of life unleashes its fury on the planet it becomes the ultimate bringer of death. Whether it’s from rain inundating the ground, rivers bursting their banks or our failed efforts to contain water in dams or levees floods are as inevitable as they are unstoppable. When millions of tons of water come into contact with civilisation the results are always devastating. Whatever preventative measures we have in place, however careful we are, water always wins. Just 30 cm of water can lift a car, but a 30 meters tall tsunami wave can wipe cities from the map, and kill over 230,000 people in a matter of hours. Floods are by far the most common natural disaster, and thanks to climate change they’re only becoming more frequent.
Hurricanes, Typhoons and Cyclones all the same thing withdifferent names – what they also have in common is theirdestructive power Measuring up to 2,000km across they can beone of the most awe inspiring and fearsome things in naturereaching speeds of up to 350km/h. A cyclone hit Bangladesh in1970 and killed up to half a million people and if we couldharness the power of a single hurricane is about 600 Terrawattsand could provide electricity for the entire world
Earthquakes happen when tectonic plates suddenly slip causing shock waves to shake the surface of the Earth. They occur on fault lines the most active are the Ring of Fire in the Pacific Ocean and the San Andreas fault on America’s west coast. They are measured on the Richter Scale with an MMS value up to 10. A recent Earthquake in China left over 11m people homeless and an earthquake in Kashmir killed almost 80,000 people leaving millions without food or shelter. In this episode we use cutting edge CGI to go inside an earthquake to see how their power is released and explore the devastation their vibrations can cause, making them the most destructive of all natural disasters.
Volcanoes are Earth’s geologic architects. They’ve created more than 80 percent of our planet’s surface and their explosive force has crafted both mountains and craters. 1,500 volcanoes are still potentially active and the deadliest eruption in recorded history was the 1815 explosion of Mount Tabora in Indonesia, which created a crates and a superheated plume of hot ash that shot 28 miles into the sky, blotted out the sun, changed global temperature and killed around 100,000 people. This episode will take us into the crater and under the earth to work out just what makes these sleeping beasts so deadly.
Tornadoes demolish houses, flip cars, cross rivers, dig trenches, and liftlightweight objects 10,000 feet into the air. A tornado is a lethal combinationof wind and power. Tornado Alley in the USA sees more tornadoes thananywhere else. On May 22, 2011, the Joplin Tornado killed 158 people andinjured more than a thousand. The storm packed winds in excess of 200 mphand was on the ground for more than 22 miles destroying everything in it’spath. We will look at how they are formed, why they are so unpredictable andwhat scientists are doing to try to minimise their damage because they cannever be stopped.
Planes, trains and ships, our mass transit systems, have had a profound effect on mankind, making the world smaller and more connected. Every year billions of journeys are undertaken without a hitch, but when accidents do happen, when trains collide, planes fall from the sky or ships sink to the bottom of the ocean they shatter lives, taking hundreds, even thousands of passengers with them. These deadly disasters are one in a million events, turning everyday travel into terrifying frontpage news, but surprisingly even when a jumbo jet crashed nose first into a Japanese forest there were survivors. These are the stories of tragedy and survival against the odds, because modern technology and human resilience make a strong team.
When it comes to disasters, mother nature has mankind beat. However, asmankind expands, evolves and technology advances, it comes withdangerous challenges. When errors are made or unforeseen circumstancesoccur, the results can be as devastating as they are spectacular. Oil spills,explosions, building collapses, nuclear accidents are becoming increasinglycatastrophic – why In this episode, we take a forensic look at each disasterto see what went wrong, what was the impact and the total cost both tohuman lives, to the planet’s viability and to those responsible.