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The following activities will help students consider the impact and implications of disasters.

Activity 1: Averting a Disaster
Divide the class into groups of 4 or 5 students, with one student per group acting as recorder. Ask each group to develop a list of local, regional, national, or international sites, events, and issues that have the potential to become a disaster or a crisis (some possibilities are a nuclear accident such as that at Chernobyl, earthquakes and hurricanes, losing the battle to protect the region's forests, or poisoning of the local water supply through an industrial accident). Have the groups then list the possible causes of such disasters and the means of preventing them by considering (1) moral and ethical concerns, (2) technological concerns, and (3) legal and political concerns. Next, have the entire class discuss each group's list. Ask them to select two or three scenarios that realistically could result in averting a disaster.

Then have the students, individually or in small groups, choose a single one of these sites, events, or issues to research and prepare a report for presentation to the class. This report should include location (absolute and relative); the places that would be involved in the event–those places with human habitation or which have been modified by human activity; and human-environmental interactions related to the site, event, or issue. Students should conclude their reports by describing a step-by-step action plan for averting or mitigating the disaster. If the reports are of high quality, you may wish the class to vote on the most realistic and effective report and then invite appropriate local and regional authorities to visit the class to discuss the action plans.

Activity 2: Investigating the Community
Ask students to read local history books and interview older members of the community to see if any disasters occurred in the area in the past. If so, have them find out if the people involved were warned and able to escape; who or what caused the disaster; and if the event could have been avoided, and if so, by what means.

 

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