Hazard Management Schemes

Hazard Management Schemes

Using Japan and Haiti as examples discuss and evaluate the effectiveness of hazard management schemes on earthquakes in developing and developed countries

Hazard management schemes are used in tectonic areas around the world, they are there to help reduce the numbers of deaths and injuries during and prior to earthquakes. These methods can be seen as effective as records after the 1990s suggest that the trends of death and injury have gone down, while the economic costs and damage prior to earthquakes has increased dramatically. There are other schemes that are used to predict as well as mange disasters, which give people fair warning so they are able to evacuate safely before a disaster strikes. Yet some hazard management schemes can be seen as more effective than others, in this research it suggests that having a variety of hazard management schemes is actually more effective than just one, and if the combination is right there can be a possibility of eradicating death and injuries all together. The variety of hazard management schemes that have been  researched are: seismic buildings in developed and developing countries, reinforced buildings, road and bridge design, education, fire proof materials, earthquake maps, radon gas, laser beams, the Hazard management cycle, SMAUG model, Dregg’s disaster model, the hazard risk equation and Parks model. Prediction can be seen as the most important factor as it gives people time to prepare and evacuate, but these are not always 100% reliable (al, 2013) (Report journal page one).

There are a variety of hazard prone contries that use hazard management schemes, yet some use more than others, this is due to the type of hazard that occurs there and what disaters they are most prone to. This would suggest that there is a difference in things like: magnitude, frequency, type of disaster (Desctructive, constructive, collision and conservative), topography and econmoic wealth. Aside from these things one of the most contempory aspect that is currently being faced in the geographical world is vulnerability. This term crops up in majority of cases in disasters, as we see it is a constant issuse for places which have high levels of vulnerability.  We can see this in the hazard risk equations whichis a global equations used globally as well in win Dregg’s model. Both suggesting that vulnerability is a key issues which any country will face no matter what their development status and GDP. As this also takes into consideration the people who are suffering within a country even though they may be classed as developed and wealthy. This might be an argument against hazard manamgement schemes as they are seen as flawed as some countried do not have the means to build them as they are classed as vulnerable(al, 2013) (Report journal page one) (al C. D., 2013) (Cowling, 2011)(report journal pages 13 and 14)(report log page 2).

Japan and Haiti are used examples of two countries that are situated on major plate boundaries which are highly prone to earthquakes, looking at the methods that they use. From this it can be seen that it is not only the hazard management schemes that contribute to the eradication of injuries and deaths, but other factors like; level of economic development: if the country is developed or developing and more economically developed country or an less economically developed country, GDP: how much a country imports and exports as well as manufactures, HDI: life expectancy, education and quality of life of the people who live in the area, type of plate boundary: it is thought that 80% of the world’s most destructive hazards are found on destructive plate boundaries where the oceanic crust is subducted under the less dense continental crust , magnitude of earthquake and scale of event (just to name a few). This therefore suggests that no hazard is the same (even if it occurs multiple times within a country), which we can see in the Hazard Risk equation, suggesting that vulnerability, capacity to cope and hazard all contribute to the risk of a hazard. Dregg’s model would also link into this, it suggests that a natural hazard can only become a disaster when there is a significant impact on a vulnerable population, these might be human impacts like death and injury or economic like property loss or loss of income. This therefore suggests that a hazard only has the potential to harm people, the environment and the economy, whereas a disaster is where this hazard becomes a reality (Cowling, 2011) (report journal pages 11 and 12).

Kobe occurred on a destructive plate boundary situated in Japan, Japan is a developed country which was not prepared for this 1995 event. Since this event they have upped their hazard management, being situated on such an earthquake prone position with over 1,500 earthquakes per year they now have a variety of methods which help them be better prepared. Some of the hazard management schemes that they use are; seismic buildings, reinforced bridges and buildings, radon gas, laser beams, fire proof materials, earthquake maps and education to help them be better prepared. In comparison Haiti, is seen as the poorest country in the western hemisphere, it is situated on a conservative plate boundary and has over 1,700 earthquakes per year the worst being 2004 the boxing day event. It is a country that lacks the technology to prepare for earthquakes, because it is such an impoverished country it is hard to know which statistics can be believed, due to a lot of charities exaggerating deaths and injuries for money. As with charity sites the death count is only 230,000 people while other sites suggest only 200,000 deaths.  Yet it is clear that the country lacks the funds to help them with hazard management, they do as much as they can using cheaper materials and technology, though it is not enough to aid the country when an earthquake strikes (al H. e., 2012 )(al C. D., 2013)(report journal pages 11 and 12).

There are models governments create to manage hazards effectively, looking at Parks model, SMAUG model and the Hazard Management cycle we can see that they are effective for some countries but not so much for others. The Hazard Management cycle, is used by governments to help organise, plan, mitigate and prepare for hazards, yet it can be seen as ineffective as fitting it to every disaster it is not possible. We can see that you cannot classify one hazard, as each disaster is different. SMAUG model is slightly different, as it prioritises hazards like manageability, urgency, acceptability, growth and seriousness is ranked and scaled, seen as a simple and easy system that governments use during and prior to hazards. Yet it is not as effective not all people will agree on which should be ranked the highest issue at the time, each person will have their own views and opinions. Parks model can be seen as slightly different this is a graph of three lines suggesting the degree of preparedness, speed of relief and the nature of recovery; this is used after an earthquake and helps places to analyse and assess where they went wrong and how they should improve in the future. Yet its main weakness is in the way that people (especially governments) find it hard to be self critical and criticize their own ideas and methods (al C. D., 2013) (Cowling, 2011)(report journal pages 13 and 14)(report log page 2).

Building design is one of the most effective hazard management schemes that can be used, it is suggested that buildings collapsing cause more deaths than the disaster itself. Developed countries look at techniques like; seismic buildings, reinforced buildings and road and bridge design, while developing countries have similar strategies but on limited funds which are not always as reliable or well built. Seismic buildings are highly effective as they have a variety of features that are put together to create something highly sturdy, in a developed country the building will have; deep foundations, strong double glazed windows, shock absorbers, cross bracing and a damper. All of these features are highly effective when in an earthquake, tested and reliable at withstanding high magnitudes. Yet developing countries cannot afford this kind of building as it is very costly and the materials dense they do have their own version but it is unable to withstand high magnitudes, it is also impossible to do this for every single building and home, as it would become very costly and take a lot of time to create a fully earthquake proof country.  Reinforced buildings are seen as more cost effective, it is a strategy used to make already built buildings seismic, this is also quite costly so is not usually done in developing countries and some people criticize this as it can cause a cultural loss. Bridge and road designs are seen as very important; they are the main source of transport and during a disaster the most vital way of aiding people or transporting. Similar to the other strategies it is costly and takes a lot of time to plan these systems (al H. e., 2012 )(report journal  pages 2,3,4 and 5)(report log page one).

Fire proof materials and education are other hazard management strategies that countries can use, fire proof materials are used as they have automatic shut off valves that can be installed into gas pipes to stop the risk of fires which are usually a secondary hazard prior to earthquakes. These are seen as a niche yet highly effective method not usually see as hazard management techniques as they are versatile for other fire hazards which could be caused. These are not seen as costly, yet when it comes to how and when they are maintained this then becomes costly and time consuming. Some countries might not have the funds for this scheme, but it is more so that countries are unaware of these devices and do not know that they are easily purchased. You might also say that it is an uncommon item or a niche product therefore is not seen or proved to be very effective wen preventing secondary hazards , therefore not very effective hazard management schemes (Report journal pages 7) (report log page one).

Education is an effective scheme that countries use, it is aimed at changing people’s behaviour and to protect them through making them more aware of the hazards that earthquakes can cause. It is also essential for school children in countries like Iraq where they use education to prepare children for what they should do during an earthquake, through things like TV, radio, posters, drills and emergency kits. This was seen as effective during the occurrence of the disaster Bam, as school children understood where to go and what to do, this then helped the number of child deaths decrease, equating to a lesser death toll in schools. But not everyone wants to be educated, as some people are ignorant towards what others tell them, this might cause this scheme to be ineffective as some of the techniques are not taught or passed on. There is also an issue with the way that preparation is taught, some people find it as though they are being talked down to or treated as unintelligent, therefore becoming closed off to some of the facts conveyed. Yet this can also be an issue as it forces people to absorb information and ensuring that they know and understand what needs to be done (Row, 2013) (Report journal page 6) (report log page one).

Being able to predict earthquakes is important; there are no 100% reliable ways to predict an occurrence of an earthquake but it is easy to detect patterns in them. Earthquake maps offer this, it is thought that 500,000 detectable earthquakes happen per year, with these maps we have live monitoring of earthquakes 24/7. However they are not as effective as it is not a way of predicting earthquakes only detecting as and when they occur, so there is little that people can do to help a country as you can see an earthquake as it is happening. Other schemes like radon gas and laser beams are used as an effective method to predict earthquakes, radon gas is used to measure the amount of gas produced near a tectonic plate site as it is though that there is a lot of radon gas before an earthquake occurs. It is a very expensive method and very dangerous as it is as the exact site where an earthquake can occur, in the same way laser beams can be used but this is a process via satellite. The laser beams detect plate movements; this has been seen as a very effective method as it has helped to evacuate vast numbers of people before high magnitude earthquakes occur. This however is not always 100% accurate as well as the fact that it can only detect horizontal movements, when we know that plates will also move vertically (Row, 2013 )(al H. e., 2012)(report journal pages 8,9 and 10)(report log page one).

When looking at the variety of hazard management schemes a country can use it is important to see how each country and the disaster which occurs differ. As well as it being hard to predict earthquakes it is also hard to predict what will exactly happen as each earthquake can be of a different magnitude and happen in a different area. From my analysis I have discovered that the most effective hazard management strategy is seismic buildings, buildings are seen as one of the biggest causes of death and injury during and prior to an earthquake. But when the proper measures are put in place a country is safer with the right buildings and road designs. However this is not an effective strategy for countries that are very poor, this is because poorer countries lack the funds to create buildings that are able to withstand the higher magnitude earthquakes. Poorer countries would benefit more from investment and funds to build safer roads and buildings in the long run (al C. D., 2013)(report journal pages 11 and 12)(reprot log page one).

Yet in another factor researched suggests there is a likelihood that using a variety of strategies would benefit a country before, during and after an earthquake. As Japan is a developed country they are able to prepare, organise, evacuate and mitigate their frequent high magnitude earthquakes, through a variety of strategies. Whereas Haiti a developing country has a lack of funds to withstand earthquakes meaning that they are constantly trying to recover from their frequent earthquakes. However although Japan is a developed country they also have a lower frequency of earthquakes with a slightly lower magnitude, suggesting that having a variety of hazard management schemes might not be entirely beneficial. This can be said for other earthquakes around the world which occur; as no single one is the same each earthquake scenario is different suggesting that any hazard management scheme could be relevant. In conclusion we could argue that having a variety of hazard management schemes is more effective than having none. Suggesting that having all of the strategies create a safer environment and country before, during and after an earthquake, rather than having no hazard management scheme.



Hazard Management Strategy

Hazard Management Strategy

From the scientific report that I have composed in the form of a journal, I have created a table to show my findings on which hazard management strategy is the most effective, through showing the positive and negative aspects.

Name of hazard management strategy

Positives Negatives
Seismic buildings for developed countries
This is good for governments who have the fund to create these buildings and have the labour force. They are highly effective and cause minimal numbers of deaths. It is made up of a variety of small mechanisms which work together to create an earthquake proof building.
This is not good for countries who cannot afford this building. It is only for the elite governments who have the funds, it is also impossible to do this for every home and building within built up areas. Making this a strategy that is very costly and hard to carry out on every building and home.
Seismic buildings for developing countries
This is an effective method used for countries with low GDPs; they are a cheaper and affordable style of building. Which are able to with stand low magnitude earthquakes.
Yet this is not effective for high magnitude earthquakes, though certain measures were taken to avoid the buildings from collapsing there is a lack of metal and steel. This suggests that the buildings are not totally safe and effective during high magnitude earthquakes.
Reinforced buildings
This strategy is good when looking at building codes and laws; governments take into account each building and look at ways to make them safer during an earthquake. They follow ways to strengthen buildings so they are less likely to collapse during earthquakes.
This is not a very cost effective solution; in the long run it creates a more work and effort to keep up with building management. Some people would feel that rebuilding is cheaper and easier rather than keep adapting buildings prior to earthquakes.
Road and bridge design
Roads and bridges are most important during a disaster, as they are vital it is important to look at their design and make sure they are not affected during an earthquake.  This is a good strategy as the bridges and roads use advanced technologies to make them more seismic.
This is a very costly and laborious job, during the making of these roads and bridges they will not be able to be accessed by the public, stopping the transfer of goods and services; this might lose profits and a growth in GDP. This would also not be a strategy that a developing country could use as it is too costly.
This is seen as a good way to make people more wary of earthquakes; statistics suggest that people have become more prepared and aware of what to do and how to handle disasters. It has also been a good way to help children in schools to understand what to do and not to panic.
Not everyone wants to listen or be educated as well as them being ignorant toward what others tell them. This might also be seen as ineffective as some of the techniques taught will not be needed; some people might also see this as a waste of time. Therefore not everyone is on board with the idea, making it harder to be an effective process.
Fire proof materials
This is a very effective strategy as fire is a huge secondary hazard prior to all earthquakes. These materials a useful and easy to fit and purchase for any building or home. Stopping a great numbers of deaths and injuries.
Some places may not have the funds to purchase these fire proof materials; it is also possible that some people do not know that they are easily purchased materials. As they are really uncommon and seen as a niche item.
Earthquake maps
This is good in detecting where and when earthquakes occur and happen this is also seen as way of tracing patterns and understanding earthquakes deeper.
These maps are not a way of predicting earthquakes, we can only see earthquakes as they occur, and therefore there is little you can do to help a country who is going through this disaster.
Radon gas
This helps to detect when an earthquakes occurring, this device has been seen as very useful in saving lives from evacuations.
It is very expensive and dangerous for the scientists who have to go to the earthquake sites. Therefore some people might not be willing to detect this as they could be injured or worse during the monitoring.
Laser beams
This prediction strategy helps to evacuate vast numbers of people. Which is very useful in saving lives and causing fewer injuries, it also helps places to prepare for less damage causing more economic costs.
There can sometimes be anomalies and faults; it is not always 100% reliable or accurate for places and the people who inhabit there, as it only detects horizontal movements of plates when plates can also move vertically.
Hazard management cycle
This cycle is really effective and used by governments to prepare and mitigate hazards. It’s a way to plan and reduce impacts in the future and can be seen as useful with any disaster which occurs.
It’s not always easy to fit each step within an earthquake as each disaster is different. Also governments have different rules and laws which they need to follow and carryout. Therefore it is not always effective with all earthquakes.
SMAUG model
It’s a good at to prioritize hazards as each one is ranked and scaled. It is a simple and easy system that governments might use during an earthquake.
Sometimes it might be difficult to determine which is the most important and which event should be ranked the highest on the scale. Each person has their own opinion and view and this can cause arguments and disagreements within the society.


Case studies

I took into account two countries which are situated on major plate boundaries which are highly prone to earthquakes. I looked at the methods which they use and how effective they are when aiding the country as a disaster strikes. From my findings I found that a variety of factors also determine how effective a management scheme may be, as I chose a developed and developing country to compare. This suggested that factors like; wealth, GDP, quality of life, HDI, type of plate boundary, magnitude of earthquake and time scale of event will be major determining factors of how effective a management scheme will be.

As we know no natural hazard is the same, like the hazard risk equations suggests, vulnerability, hazard and capacity to cope all suggest how a country will deal with a hazard. Magnitudes are all different, and each country has a different topography to consider as well as their wealth situation.

Looking at Kobe which is situated in Japan we understand that the country is wealthy and highly developed. Japan is situated on a destructive plate boundary that is one of the most hazardous places, as they experience high magnitude earthquakes regularly; prior to their 1995 event they have become more prepared than ever. Drills take place constantly within schools and work places; they educate all of the people including children. And a proportion of their wealth is put onto building seismic buildings, they reassess their buildings and like to reinforce them trying out new advanced technologies. Tall buildings are seismic as well as their roads and highways, they use a combination of strategies to keep the people safe as well as losing their buildings causing high economic costs.

Comparing to Haiti, which is the poorest country in the western hemisphere, it is seen as a developing country with a lack of funds to spend on their natural disasters.  They are always in need of better preparation for earthquakes; they suffer from other natural disasters as well, yet which such corrupt governances they will not find the funds or bring together funds to create hazard management schemes. So the inhabitants of Haiti are constantly struggling to rebuild their lives.

All I all it’s hard to determine which hazard management scheme is most effective from the variety of factors which I have come across I would suggest that the most effective thing to do to prevent an earthquake from being such an issue is to use a combination of hazard management schemes.









Climate Change

Climate Change

 Climate Change Report

Climate change is classified as any trend or shift in climate (average weather over 30 years) that shows a sustained change in the average value for any particular climatic element, like: rainfall, drought, storminess, ect… Climate variability refers to the differences in climate from one year to another. While global warming refers to the consistent recently measured rise in average surface temperature of the planet, this is usually due to the enhanced greenhouse effect. The enhanced greenhouse effect is when the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere increases (for example: nitrogen, methane and most commonly known carbon dioxide). Some scientists argue that the enhanced greenhouse effect is causes by mostly anthropogenic (human) activity, like burning fossil fuels (rich in carbon when burnt releases carbon dioxide) while others might say it is due to natural causes. However some people become confused when talking about greenhouse gases, the greenhouse effect is a natural process which occurs which warms the earth’s atmosphere, by trapping heat which would be radiated back into space (30% is currently radiated back to space), not to be mistaken with the enhanced greenhouse effect.

The causes of climate change can vary, on the one hand we have the natural causes and on the other we have the anthropogenic activity. Some scientists believe that climate change is a natural process which causes the surface of our earth to heat up as the earth ages, the various natural causes are known as: changes in solar output, variations in the earth’s orbit, cosmic collision and volcanic emissions.

  • Changes in solar output (sunspot theory): sun spots are dark spots found on the sun’s surface which are caused by intense magnetic storms; these are a result from the amount of energy emitted by the sun. This causes there to be more blasts of solar radiation to the earth, it is thought that these occur in a cycle of every 11 years, from the records which have been kept for 2000 years. Around 1645 and 1715 (Maunder minimum) there was no sun spots this is what is thought to have caused the little ice age. Around the medieval warm period there is thought to have been more intense activity on the sun’s surface meaning that there were many sun spots at that time.
  • Variations in the earth’s orbit (the orbital theory or the Milankovitch theory): this theory suggests that the earth: spins tilts and wobbles on its axis changing the amount of sunlight that reaches the earth’s surface. Every 100,000 years the earth’s orbit changes from optical to elliptical (orbital eccentricity), every 41,000 years the earth tilts from 21.5 degrees to 24.5 degrees and every 22,000 years the earth’s axis wobbles.
  • Cosmic collision and volcanic emissions (eruption theory): this theory suggests that volcanic eruptions can alter the earth’s climate, ejection of volcanic material (ash clouds and toxic gases) into the stratosphere high level winds allow the distribution globally. In the atmosphere, sulphur dioxide forms a haze reducing the amount of sunlight in the earth’s surface (this can last for around 2-3 years depending on how great the eruption). Some examples: Tambora (Indonesia) ejection of 2000 tonnes of sulphur dioxide caused a year without summer. Mt Pinatubo (Philippines) ejection of 12 million tonnes of sulphur dioxide caused a global temperature drop of 0.4-0.7 degrees.

Some scientists believe that humans have caused the rapid increase of climate change, this can be due to things such as: deforestation, burning fossil fuels, the increase of newly industrialising countries (NICs) like China and India, rice paddy fields and afforestation (even though it is a scheme used to help reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the first 7 years of planting trees give out 2 times the amount of carbon dioxide than usual). All of these things and many more which are not listed contribute to the enhanced greenhouse effect, when the following (see below) gases are increased this is known and the enhanced greenhouse effect.

  • Ozone: is found in the troposphere (10-25 km) this is a greenhouse gas which disperses ultra violet rays so fewer enter the earth’s atmosphere, the warming effect of the ozone is greatest at 12km where most aircrafts operate and where nitrous oxide is greatest.
  • Carbon dioxide: makes up 0.04 % of the earth atmosphere, it is given off when fossil fuels are burnt which has caused a 25% increase in carbon dioxide levels. This is responsible for retaining most of the heat in the earth’s atmosphere causing the earth surface to heat up.
  • Methane: is very effective at containing heat since around the 1950s annual emissions have increased 4 times faster than the carbon dioxide increase. The main causes are rice production, burning vegetation, coal mining and intensive farming (cattle rearing).
  • Nitrous oxide: this is due to agricultural fertilisers, burning fossil fuels and synthetic chemical production. Nitrous oxide traps infrared radiation which can potentially destroy the ozone allowing harmful ultra violet rays to reach the earth surface (leading to skin cancer).
  • Chlorofluorocarbons: these are used as propellants in spray cans (in the 1960s), foam plastics and refrigerator fluids. These absorb solar radiation and contribute to global warming, the fact that scientists discovered (around 1980s) the thinning of the ozone layer between 10-25km above the Antarctic it was then decided that this substance would no longer be used (due to the depletion of the ozone layer).

The enhanced greenhouse effect is the increase in the natural greenhouse effect, from the evidence above it is said to be caused by human activities, in the diagram below you can see how the radiation becomes trapped in our ozone while some (30%) is reflected back into space.

Climate change is usually categorised in to three different scales these are: long term, medium term and short term.

  • Long term (geological or quaternary period) climate change: (this is over several of hundreds of years) mainly looking at various ice ages and warmer periods, known as glacial and interglacial periods. The evidence that is looked at is ice cores found in Greenland and the Antarctic ice sheets; from these we can measure the amount of carbon dioxide present. Some of the previous findings included: during ice ages carbon dioxide levels of 180 parts per million (ppm), during interglacial’s (warmer periods) carbon dioxide levels of around 280 ppm. Further evidence can be taken from pollen grains which have been preserved in peat bogs (or waterlogged peat), however the pollen extractions are not always as reliable as ice cores.
  • Medium term (historical) climate change: (this is over the past 1,000 years) scientists mostly rely on proxy records (paintings like the Thames frost fair, poems and books like the Charles Dickens A Christmas carol all based during the 1500s- 1850s) as there is not much evidence of direct climate evidence. Evidence is usually dendrochronology, it is thought that during warmer weather (interglacial’s) the tree rigs are known to be bigger and thicker, perhaps due to the abundant conditions of sunlight and precipitation. Other things like looking at French grape harvests and the warm medieval period are also commonly used.
  • Short term (recent) climate change: (this is over decades making it more easy to analyse) looking at sea level change is the most common, as it is easy to look at eustatic and isostatic change, but also thermal expansion, air temperature (increase of 0.75 degrees between 1900-2000), melting ice caps (Greenland has experienced a 16% increase in melting since 1979) and pH of sea levels (has become more acidic 8.25-8.14) are used as more reliable evidence of climate change.

Climate change is seen as a very dangerous situation, this is because it is: a global problem which needs global solutions, it is a chronic on going hazard and is highly unpredictable. This gives the world a range of impacts and effects.

Some of the various effects are: 1) small glaciers found in the Andes disappear, this could threaten water supplies for around 50 million people 2) More than 300,000 people could die from climate related diseases like: malnutrition, diarrhoea and malaria 3) buildings and roads (in Canada and Russia) could become damaged from permafrost melting 4) 10% of land species could face extinction, 80% bleaching of coral reefs (mostly of the great Barrier Reef) 5) the Atlantic thermo-haline circulation could start to weaken 6) sharp declines of crop yields in Africa by around 5-10% 7) 550million people at risk of starvation perhaps even a 1-3 million people caused to die of malnutrition 8) 170 million people effected by coastal flooding every year 9) Greenland ice sheets will potentially melt irreversibly leading to a 7 meter sea level rise 10) the La Niña and El Niño oscillations will become intensified causing more natural hazards like flooding and drought to occur in the Eastern and western parts of the world, this could also cause more abrupt Monsoon rains in places like India 11) low-lying areas of land and cities will be at very high risk of flooding like; Florida and New York 12) marginal areas of land that are highly vulnerable will suffer  the most according to the hazard risk equation these are places like: the Philippines and Haiti 13) also there will be an increase in the reproduction of insects meaning that food crops will be highly susceptible to become eaten 14) animal breeding seasons will become mixed up (mostly due to their seasonal breeding patterns becoming disrupted) causing an over or under population to ecosystems which would cause an extinction of many species.

Two places which I have researched (in detail) are the Arctic and Africa, there are other places which will have impacts (as discussed above) but I think that these two examples will have the most significant impacts in the future.

  • Africa (has mostly economic and social impacts): ironically Africa makes the least contribution to global warming but is the most vulnerable when it comes to climate change. Most of the population is dependent on climate sensitive resources as the majority are subsistence farmers who rely on cash crops and local water, it has eliminated the ability to adapt to climate change due to the poverty (as it is an extremely disconnected country when it comes to globalization). It is predicted that there will be a 3-4 degree increase in temperature by the year 2100, rainfall is also most likely to increase in the equatorial regions, but decrease in the north and south regions.

There seems to be various water issues when it comes to agriculture, hydroelectric power and the river Nile (conflicts) which will no doubt worsen with climate change. 70% of the African population are subsistent farmers, climate change (even locust plagues will increase) which will cause the crops to deteriorate meaning that a vast majority of the population will find it hard to eat and make a living (this will also cause desertification). Vector and water borne disease will increase with climate change, and when 80% of the health services rely on wild plants as remedies there will be little to cure these people. 60% of the African community live in developed coastal regions which are classed as marginal areas, from this we can infer that there will be an increased risk in flooding in these areas.

  • Arctic (has mostly environmental and ecological impacts): It is said that the Arctic will undergo the most rapid warming than any other biome on earth; this is because they are highly restricted by the low temperature and permafrost. It is thought that once the melting of the permafrost starts to quicken due to climate change, large quantities of organic materials will break down rapidly causing more greenhouse gas emissions, increasing atmospheric concentrations of carbon.

There is very little access to nutrients due to the low temperatures and thin layers of soil found in this biome, these conditions are perfect for some of the various arctic vegetation that can only start their reproductive process at 0 degrees. These plants are highly adapted to their biome; climate change can alter the environmental factors that these plants so heavily rely on, causing an effect on the productivity responses and phonological development of these plants. This could also affect any animal species like: arthropods, insects (spiders) and birds, which rely on these plant species. There could so be an impact on pollination, meaning that warmer climates could cause early flowering. So many mammals like: deer, musk oxen, hares and lemmings will suffer who rely mostly on plants what with them being herbivores. Polar bears will also suffer due to the melting ice caps, meaning that they have to swim for longer distances to find ice that is too weak to hold their weight. This will mean a huge ecological and environmental shift for the Arctic regions, which could soon become more Tundra related than arctic.

From this report so far we can see that it is very easy to pin point the exact issues that the world is facing from climate change and the exact people, wildlife and environments that are suffering. But it is much harder for people like scientists and geographers to draw conclusions on what is the exact cause and exact solutions to climate change should be. This is not a very good sign when the world is close to tipping point both economically and environmentally, as it is a global problem it suggests that we will all suffer or are already suffering from climate change and global warming in some way or another.

It is proven the earth has been naturally increasing in its temperature, but in recent figures we can see that it has been significantly accelerated over the most recent years. Whether or not that is due to human activity or natural causes is still yet to be agreed on.


The Picture of Dorian Gray

The Picture of Dorian Gray

To what extent does the symbolism in ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ relate to the ‘Theory of Aesthetics’?

Aesthetics is a theory that can be related to the symbolism seen in ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’. The yellow book, the colour white, the portrait and the homoerotic male relationships have important symbolic significance in the novel. Oscar Wilde uses these to convey his own beliefs of the Decadent Movement, which was an artistic and literary movement in the 19th century. He adopted this belief in his own life by wearing his hair long, decorating his room with blue fine china and peacock feathers. Here we can see his indications to what is ‘aesthetically pleasing’ and what is a ‘refined sense of pleasure’ portrayed in the text titled ‘Aesthetics and Pleasure, Art and Beauty’. This text relates closely to ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ as well as ‘Symbolism and Allegory’ another text stating that ‘symbolism plays an important role in literature’ here we can see a significant amount of similarities to the novel, and how it suggests that beauty is morality and corruption.

‘Aesthetics and Pleasure, Art and Beauty’ suggests that ‘fine wine, clothes, literature, painting and music,’ are examples of beauty and sophistication. The reader sees similarities of this in how Oscar Wilde lived and how the character Gray lives. As he resides in a ‘stately home’, his character is ‘cultured’, ‘wealthy’ and he is an ‘impossibly beautiful young man’, yet his own heritage is not so conventional. The novel also makes mention of how beauty can be defined in ‘good breeding’ which Gray’s character is an example of; he inherits an Estate from his Aunt who is described as a ‘Lady’. While other quotes like; ‘yes, he was certainly wonderfully handsome, with his finely curved scarlet lips, his frank blue eyes, his gold crisp hair,’ and ‘you have a wonderfully beautiful face Mr Gray’ show he is a truly beautiful character emphasising his ‘good breeding’. The Decadent Movement is defined by these similar traits of a person or character, yet it might also be seen in their deeds and set beliefs. Wilde uses phrases like; ‘you have beauty in the form of genius,’ and ‘to me beauty is the wonder of wonders,’ to emphasise how beauty is vital part of life, as if without beauty and youth a person is nothing. This links to the third person narrative of the novel, illustrating to the reader the conflict that Gray has between his soul or having eternal youth. ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ can be described as the immortal tale of a man who has a face like; ‘ivory and rose leaves’, he then makes a Faustian bargain or deal with the devil for the diabolical favour of eternal youth. This is an allegory representing a ‘metaphorical representation of moral and religious’ themes and symbols.

‘The Sublime’ and ‘The Beautiful’ are used to describe what is aesthetically pleasing. We can relate this to the social education and moral enlightenment themes in ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’, the reader witnesses this with Gray’s physical appearance and Basil’s moral state of mind which enables him to produce beauty. ‘Artistically Beautiful’ though used as an ‘umbrella term’ is portrayed as symbolism in the novel, art and beauty lives up to Wilde’s literary works and his lifestyle. Showing us how the novel relates to ‘Art and Beauty’ as a ‘skill, technique and craft’, then in turn relating to the formula; ‘Aesthetics=refined pleasure=art=beauty,’ found in the ‘Aesthetics’ text. ‘Unconscious, ideal and remote,’ shows how all art is depicted, it is also seen as ‘something terribly enthralling in the exercise of influence.’ This suggests to the reader that beauty is something for elite and wealthy people, ‘society, civilized society at least, is never ready to believe anything detriment of those who are both rich and fascinating’. The reader therefore can relate this symbolism to the ‘Aesthetics Theory’, as beauty is something that is a ‘cultivation of good taste’ the ‘sensory impressions’ only seen by people of a high standard or quality.

Although ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’, has many references to ‘Aesthetics and Beauty’, there is also a dark nature and symbolism within the novel. When looking at ‘The Yellow Book’ (or A Rebours), there is a dark and evil turn to the novel, moving away from the beauty. The fact that it is presented as ‘reading the spiritual ecstasies of some medieval saint or morbid confessions of a modern sinner,’ causes the reader question how this links to the beauty aspect. Other things like; ‘there is as horrible fascination in them all’ and ‘there were moments when he looked on evil simply as a mode through which he could realise his conception of beauty’ suggest a lack of ‘Beauty and Aesthetics’. The reader might also have a sense of how beauty is flawed, ‘life is shallow and selfish’ while ‘art is beautiful and permanent’, and might be seen in the novel ‘when youth goes your beauty will go with it’. Yet it is also a burden; ‘the most magical of mirrors’ and ‘the body sins once, and has done with its sin, for the action is a mode of purification’ emphasise the portrait showing all of the sins Gray carries. It even goes as far as to suggest he has trouble when seeking some sort of redemption. These quotes illustrate how this novel is linked with ‘Symbolism and Allegory’, as ‘whole structures can be around metaphors’ and ‘Allegory represents a metaphorical representation of moral and religious themes and symbols’. Similar to the Decadent Movement which also suggests; ‘Art does not mirror life; it is superior to it because it is immortal’

The colour white is a symbol in ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ to suggest beauty, youth and innocence seen in the novel. It can be seen as ‘youth’s passionate purity’, ‘like a white handkerchief’ and a ‘rose-white boyhood’ symbolising how beauty and aesthetics is situated in the beginning and end structures of the novel. The reader sees this when Sybil’s dead body is described as ‘small and white’, showing the reader how in death she has become innocent, no longer with sin as though it had all been repented. In ‘Aesthetics and Beauty’ the reader understands the importance of youth as well as the importance of beauty in people and/or objects. This to how literature can be defined as aesthetically pleasing (determined by what is in the ‘literary canon’) and should combine ‘the insincere character of a romantic play with the wit and beauty that make such plays delightful to us’. Literature is beautiful, not only the characters but the way that it is written and structured. Wilde does this through his descriptions and symbolism, as well as careful use of language and narrative, creating a highly beautiful piece of literature.

Symbolism in ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’, relates to ‘The Theory of Aesthetics’, in some aspects the novel can be seen as dark and portrays beauty in a shallow, selfish and obsessive way. This however is not how ‘The Critical Anthology’ texts suggest beauty is or should be, the reader understands the consequences of beauty and the sacrifices that are made to obtain it. Yet in other aspects the character of Gray, his lifestyle and his friends suggest the way that beauty is portrayed in the texts. It shows beauty as pleasing and a refined sense of pleasure, as well as something that is sublime, the reader witnesses this throughout the novel, as though it is something which is only obtainable if you ‘sell your soul’. But it also suggests that beauty is only for the ‘elite’ or can only be understood by a ‘good sign of breeding’ linking to the ‘Aesthetics Formula; Aesthetics=refined pleasure=art=beauty’. All in all this suggests that the symbolism in  ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ relates to the ‘Theory of Aesthetics,’ which is found in the text ‘Aesthetics and Pleasure, Art and Beauty,’ as the novel touches on the aspects of; art, beauty and aesthetics which all lead to pleasure or a pleasurable experience when reading the novel



The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde



Wonder and Metamorphosis

Wonder and Metamorphosis

To what extent do you agree that the role of the sisters in both ‘Wonder’ and ‘Metamorphosis’ is just as important to the exploration of the search for identity in the two stories as that of the main character when comparing the presentation of Via and Grete?

‘Wonder’ and ‘Metamorphosis’ were written nearly 100 years apart, both books focus on some kind of disfigurement, which both of the authors have experienced in some way in their lives, with  R.J. Palacio witnessing her son crying at a disfigured girl and Franz Kafka growing up with a slight facial disfigurement and being bullied by his Father. Both stories have the message of finding your identity despite disfigurement. Identity is defined as who a person is; these are characteristics and ways to determine the factors that create a person. These are a variety of things (like age and maturing) in the cases of these two novels we can see that disfigurement or a transformation is significant it affects the main characters to the point where they experience traumatic events before they are able to find their true identities. However, the sisters in the novels also have significant experiences before they are able to become ‘whole people’. This essay explores how the minor female characters in the stories ‘Wonder’ and ‘Metamorphosis’, are just as important as the main characters; Auggie and Gregor when in search of their identity. It will suggest that though the main characters are in search for their identity, Grete and Via (though they are minor characters) are just as relevant in search of their own identity.

In ‘Wonder’ Via is seen as mature and intelligent ‘reading War and Peace’, she is almost past puberty and seen as coming of age. This would suggest that age and gender are an important aspect in finding her identity; this also helps her in finding herself in her own section in the novel, she becomes the narrator and the reader understands more of her thoughts and feelings rather than Auggie’s. Via is seen as protective over her younger brother, ‘I’ve never minded it because it’s all I’ve ever known,’ and ‘there are so many words I can use to describe the looks on people’s faces’, suggest how she is angry for her brother as she is accustomed to the way he looks and does not understand why other people cannot accept him like she does. This suggests that she has a strong relationship with her brother and takes care of him, ‘And for a long time I didn’t get it. I’d just get mad,’ shows that Via has matured slightly and understands better how others see her brother and why they react the way that they do. She is affected by her brother’s disfigurement, which might make her more significant to the story as the reader feels they can align better with her character. As we do not have a disfigurement physically rather sympathise with her for Auggie, suggesting she is there to show a more average citizen point of view.

On the other hand ‘Metamorphosis’, Grete is the minor female character, she is seen as almost an adult and slightly older. She has a small job, with the responsibility of handling money; ‘sent on some errand’. She also uses her age and gender in finding her identity; possibly because this novel was published in 1915 we see gender as more prominent for her character, suggesting how she wants to make her own choices and decisions. This might be significant in the fact that around that time disfigurement was shut away from the world, like Gregor is shut away in his room, almost exiled from existence. Grete is a strong person; Gregor’s transformation forces her to adjust to living without her older brother, who she relied on for guidance and help. Slowly, we see a transformation in Grete as she becomes the ‘elder sibling’, taking on her brother’s chores, jobs and responsibilities around the house to help her parents, the quote; ‘who’s life hitherto had been pleasant, consisting of dressing herself nicely, sleeping long, helping in the house keeping, going out for few modest entertainments and above all playing the violin,’ illustrates this, how she was forced to grow up faster. Though she is a minor character, her exploration of identity is seen as more significant compared with Gregor’s. She becomes responsible for him and in many ways he is only able to deal with his physical transformation because Grete takes this caring role on to support him.

Both sisters undoubtedly care about their brothers and love them unconditionally, we see this when Auggie is bullied ‘The point is we all have to put up with our bad days. Now unless you want to be treated like a baby for the rest of your life, or like a kid with special needs, you just have to suck it up and go,’ suggests Via wants what is best for her brother and gives him advice. This also suggests how she becomes older and wiser as the novel progresses; it teaches her about herself and shows her identity forming. However, Auggie is still the main character when finding his identity in the novel ‘Via wrapped her arms around me and swung me left and right about twenty times,’ shows how she is just one of many other characters in aiding Auggie to find his identity. In comparison with Grete we can see that she is the only family member that is bothered to look after Gregor, ‘if he could have spoken to her and thank her for all she had to do for him,’ suggests to the reader that she is a kind a caring sister, some might even argue that it is her love that keeps him alive for the most part of the story. Other actions that she does like cleaning his room, gauging a variety of foods he will eat and ‘she jealously guarded her claim as sole caretaker of Gergor’s room,’ all suggest her love for her older brother and how she cares for him throughout his transformation. Yet the ending of the novel suggests how Grete is the main character ‘Their daughter sprang up to her feet first and stretched her young body’, and how Gregor’s transformation was just a catalyst to her finding her identity rather than a way for Gregor to find his identity.

As the narrative progresses in the novels we see a change in the minor characters. Via feels as though she needs a change of scenery when she moves to upper school, she wants to fit in and nobody to know about her disfigured brother. ‘Not to bother mum and dad with the small stuff,’ conveys her secretive nature but the reader sees it as a way that helps her parents to not worry about her. Via feels as though her brother, Auggie is more important, doesn’t tell her parents about the play. The reader notices that she feels guilty, suggesting she is a moral character or has some sense of moral judgment. We might even go further to suggest that she want something that is her own, rather than being defined by someone else, for once she wants the lime light. Via feels lost and alone, even abandoned as her friends change at the start for middle school another aspect of this might be that her Gran passed away who was her only confidant and the only adult she felt that she could bond with. ‘Olivia Pullman- not Via’ and ‘a lot of people in middle school didn’t know August,’ portray a new identity for Via causing her to become more selfish and lie which might be seen as an aspect of her finding her identity, ‘it was a lie on my part,’ illustrates to the reader this point. It is not her personality, yet she feels it is necessary to fit in which is very common for teenagers who want to be accepted. This is a progression of her becoming a teenager, she is coming of age and hitting puberty, which we also see with Grete in ‘Metamorphosis’ as a way of her finding her identity. Gradually Grete becomes tired and bored of looking after Gregor, it becomes a chore to her, and she can no longer see her brother in the insect. Here we see a disintegration of Gregor’s condition, suggesting how deep their sibling bond is as the abandonment that occurs causes Gregor to pass away. This suggests that Grete has become her own person; she is no longer guided by Gregor and is willing to make her own choices even if they are not the right ones. Grete purposely moves the furniture in Gregor’s room, the room becomes less clean and she has more of a spiteful identity toward him. We might say that this is a change in her character due to the fact that she no longer sees Gregor in the insect; ‘she thought he was lying motionless on purpose’, possibly suggesting she hates the insect who is now seen as a minor character, as she now being the main character feels it makes Gregor selfish and attention seeking and has lost hope of ever regaining her brother.

By the end of each novel we can see that although the main characters find their identity, the minor sister characters also find their identity. ‘As they become aware of their daughters increasing vivacity, that in spite of all recent times, which had made her cheeks pale, she had bloomed into a pretty girl with a good figure,’ illustrates how there is little grieving for Gregor, instead the narrative turns to Grete, as she has come of age to get married and ready to leave home. In ‘Metamorphosis’ though there was a change in Gregor, we see the change in Grete as she grows older and becomes less of a child and more of an adult ready for the world. Grete has found her identity by the end of the novel, she has become her own independent woman, who is now able to be married and have a family of her own. She discovers herself and is a great help to her family within the time that Gregor is an insect, almost like the transformation of Gregor gave her more of a chance to become herself or find her identity.

Similarly, by the end of ‘Wonder’ Via has found her identity, she has become more accepting and now has a boyfriend as well as regaining her friendship with her two friends. We see her become wiser, and able to deal with situations better, she has learnt more about herself and her personality, though she argued with her parents, ‘I see Mom and Dad smiling, so happily, holding me’ shows she feels like she no longer needs to keep quiet about her feelings as her family understand her and give her more attention. Yet the narrative still stays on Auggie. Unlike in ‘Metamorphosis’, we see that Auggie is still the main character to find his identity and although Via does find herself it is clear that this is only of secondary importance compared to Auggie, possibly because that was not the intention of R.J. Palacio as she is just one of many characters who help Auggie find his identity, compared with ‘Metamorphosis’ where Grete becomes the main protagonist while Gregor dies and is no longer significant.

In ‘Wonder’ Auggie finding his identity is more important then Via finding her identity, she is just seen as a character which just aids him finding his identity. Though Via becomes more important when she gets her own voice in her section of the story and finding her identity is the most important section of the piece, this the not the lasting memory that the reader is left with. While Grete starts as a minor character within the narrative, when Gregor dies she becomes the main character, this suggests that her finding her identity is the one which drives the narrative, when Gregor is just seen as the catalyst in her finding her identity. Yet in ‘Wonder’ Via is a minor character and stays this way throughout the narrative, letting Auggie be the readers focus when it comes to the question of finding oneself.



Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Metamorphosis by  Franz Kafka




Flowers for Algernon

Flowers for Algernon

How are language, structure and for used in Flowers for Algernon to emphasise the key themes of the story?

Language, structure and form are used by Keyes in Flowers for Algernon, to emphasise the themes; intellect, emotion and the mistreatment of mentally disabled people. Possibly due to Keyes working with mentally disabled adults and witnessing the dramatic progression of a man losing his intelligence he felt inspired to write this short story.

Keyes felt that the treatment of mentally disabled people impact intellect and emotion and can influence a person later on in their lives. Possibly the reason for his use of flashbacks within the narrative, ‘I think of my mother and father a lot these days’, suggesting how even though Charlie is losing his intellect he still holds onto the memory if his parents and how they were an influence in his life.

Within the narrative we understand that attitudes are based on Charlie due to others superiority, they base him as an intellectual inferior but also in a way as less of a human being. As the narrative progresses we see Charlie becomes like this as his IQ increases, though he does stick up for the boy in the restaurant, he feels as though he owes this to the boy, and still feels the embarrassment of sticking up for someone who he was once like. Keyes uses this as a theme within the story, it displays a condemning towards the way mentally disabled people are treated, but also gives an explanation as to why this mistreatment occurs.

In Flowers for Algernon we see leaps in the progression reports; Charlie’s writing changes in how he is writing rather than what he is writing. The reader sees that in the first line ‘Dr. Strauss says I shud rite down what I think and every thing,’ that there is a lack of spelling grammar and punctuation. Yet as the story moves forward and the operation has occurred we see the first sign of a flawless sentence in Progression report 9 ‘Dr. Strauss showed me how to keep the TV tuned low so now I can sleep.’ This along side the use of the comma progression in progress report dated April 16th to 18th helps us to see how Charlie’s intelligence has developed. Therefore suggesting how language and grammar help to emphasise the theme intellect in the story.

The use of structure is another method Keyes uses this helps the reader to see how Charlie’s emotions change, within the first progression report we see that he is a warm hearted and trusting character. Possibly because he lacks the spelling and use of vocabulary, the paragraphs are short and there is a lack of full stops and commas. As the accuracy of grammar and punctuation becomes more notable so does the lengths in the progression reports. Keyes uses this to help the reader understand Charlie’s emotions as he is more coherent and able to be more self explanatory within his writing. As his intelligence increases his personality becomes cold and arrogant some might feel as though it is quite disagreeable. ‘I’m in love with Miss Kinnian,’ is another suggestion of how Charlie becomes more aware of his emotions, yet this can also link to the fact that people become more superior with intelligence. As before Charlie saw Miss Kinnian as someone who was out of his reach, but as he becomes more intelligent the ‘thought of leaving her behind’ makes him sad.

Toward the end of the story the reader sees the erosion of spelling, grammar and punctuation as well as the progression report length decreasing and this conveys the loss of intelligence to the reader. In a sense the narrative becomes circular as we are taken back to how the story started, though the reader is expecting the erosion of Charlie’s intelligence, through the foreshadowing of Alergnon’s death, the reader can also see it through the progression reports. ‘Please if you get the chanse put some flowrs on Algernons grave in the bak yard…,’ suggests to the reader how Charlie has gone back to his previous intelligence.

All in all the main ways that the themes are emphasised in Flowers for Algernon are seen through; structure, form and language. Keyes uses these techniques deliberately to set a tone and atmosphere for the reader; it helps the story to be more interesting and gives the reader an idea of where Charlie’s intelligence is at in each point of the story.


The History Boys

The History Boys

Which boy do you have most sympathy for and why?

In the history boys the writer Alan Bennett, uses a variety of techniques and in-depth long streams of speech to make the audience feel sympathy for then characters. It is hard to pinpoint one exact character that you feel sympathy for in this play so in this essay I will analyse: Hector, Irwin, Posner and Rudge.  As these characters are great examples of characters you feel most sympathy for the History Boys.

Starting with the most conflicting character Hector, we can see that he is a great teacher and highly thought of by the boys hence the indication to giving him a ‘nickname’(‘a nickname is an achievement ’). On the other hand he is seen as a pervert who gropes at children (‘a grope is a grope’), this is the reason the audiences conflict their emotions to feel sympathy for him. ‘Nothing is here for tears and nothing to wail,’ this quote makes the audience feel sympathy for Hector given his current circumstance, but it is also conflicting as he is sad from his life shattered due to his deeds. Therefore we have a conflicting emotion towards feeling sympathy for Hector.

Irwin is another character that we feel sympathy for in the History Boys, he is very young (‘only five seconds older than us’) and just wants to be liked and accepted. The audience might also feel sorry for him because he is easily bullied by Dankin but also cannot easily stick up for himself, possibly because he has a lack of self-confidence due to being homosexual. ‘Which there was any chance of you sucking me off,’ clearly Dankin has no respect for Irwin so this quote suggests evidence for a reason the audience might feel sympathy for Irwin.

Obviously Rudge would be a choice for a character that we feel sympathy for in the History Boys, Alan Bennett purposely puts him as an odd character that stands out, this is because nobody seems to believe in his academic skills. He is the lowest or least intelligent of the group of boys and the fact that he knows it makes us feel even more sorry for him. ‘Like it or not Rudge homes are the least affordable homes for first time buyers,’ this quote suggests he is proud of what he achieved and where he is years after school, possibly suggesting that the audience are more happy for him than feeling sympathy.

Posner is one of the most misunderstood characters in the History Boys, the fact that he is homosexual causing him to be a slightly more feminine character in the group of boys. This might also be a character that portrays Alan Bennett as both of them find it hard to get their point across, Alan Bennett might also do this to make the audience feel sympathy for people who are gay. Even suggesting that it is not easy or an easy task, which can cause people to judge you so writing this play he can put his point across through the character Posner. The audience would want to think that in the future Posner is successful but in actual fact he ‘lives alone’ and his only fords are on the internet. This causes the audience to feel sympathy for him.

All in all the character I feel most sorry for is Posner, he never really got anywhere in his life though he did learn a lot and have the potential to do better than he did. I think that this is the character that Alan Bennett wants you to feel sorry for as well, mainly because he can relate to this character.