Option 4: Hazards and Disasters risk assessment and response
(Option 3)

Environmental hazards exist at the interface between physical geography and human geography. Natural hazard events are often exacerbated by human actions and, conversely, human-induced hazard events are also affected by natural environmental conditions. The principles involved in studying environmental hazards are identical to those involved in human-induced hazards.

The focus of this optional theme is on the full range of human adjustments and responses to hazards and disasters, at a variety of scales. The term “natural disaster” is deliberately avoided in this theme, since it is not considered to be an accurate reflection of the multitude of underlying reasons that expose people to risk, creating the pre-conditions necessary for a disaster to occur.

In studying this theme, students are expected to examine four hazards as follows:

Environmental hazards

• either earthquakes or volcanoes

• hurricanes (tropical cyclones, typhoons)

• droughts

Human-induced hazards

• any one recent human-induced (technological) hazard, resulting in an explosion or escape of hazardous material.

These four hazards do not necessarily require an equal allocation of time; the precise balance will vary according to local preferences. The syllabus is designed to allow for flexibility, but it is recommended that the overall approach be concept by concept, rather than entirely thematic (hazard by hazard). At least one case study of a hazard event (or disaster) is required for each of the four hazard types.