Though it may happen only once up to every 100 years, as estimated by the European Space Agency (ESA), the meteor airburst that generated a huge shock wave over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk served as an unexpected and explosive reminder of how little control humans have when it comes to our world and our universe. Although the impact was large on a local level, injuring nearly 1,500 people and causing an estimated $33 million in damages, the impact was, a cosmic flesh wound. Gone undetected, a larger body would have caused significantly more damage. Even if there were a larger object headed toward Earth that posed a significant risk to a large number of people, and even if we could detect it, there is nothing tested and proven effective that we could deploy to mitigate that threat.
Threats from space aside, we really don't need to look beyond our planet for other reminders of how easily nature can turn against us, and there's not a whole lot we can do to push back. Following are the few examples:-
Earthquakes can be violent and unpredictable, but at the same time a common reminder to anyone living along a fault line that danger lies below. Powerful enough to move the entire planet slightly off its axis, as was the case with the 8.9-magnitude quake that triggered a tsunami which devastated Japan, earthquakes can level entire cities in a matter of minutes, as was the case with the infamous 1906 San Francisco temblor.
Powerful earthquakes that occur underwater can trigger massive tsunamis, a potentially devastating one-two punch for coastal areas along fault lines. In 2004, a magnitude 9.1 earthquake that struck in the Indian Ocean caused a tsunami that killed more than 200,000 people in 14 countries, likely the deadliest tsunami in history. The amount of energy that the quake unleashed was the equivalent of more than 23,000 atomic bombs.
In 2010, a volcanic eruption in Iceland ground air traffic around Europe to a halt for weeks, causing the largest shut down of air travel since the outbreak of World War II. No one could pronounce Eyjafjallajökull, but millions of stranded travelers were surely cursing its name. Despite the inconvenience this volcano caused, the event was far from a worst-case scenario. Given that these events are violent, potentially destructive and difficult to predict, an eruption of this size could have caused more trouble had it occurred elsewhere. Volcanic eruptions can trigger other natural disasters, including tsunamis and landslides.
Seventy percent of the Earth's surface might be covered in water. Given that so much of it isn't potable or suited to agricultural uses, and desalinating ocean water is so prohibitively expensive, drought is an age-old problem that we're still basically powerless to solve. Drought leads to higher prices for food as crops wither and rot.
Despite the fact that your chances of getting struck by lightning are very remote but lightning is still a powerful natural force that manages to instill a kind of simultaneous primal fear and curiosity to anyone near it. Lightning strikes the Earth's surface about 100 times every second, generating up to one billion volts of electricity with each strike.
A stream of loose soil, water and anything floating on top, a mudslide is a type of landslide, except mudslides are characterized by faster-moving flows of debris, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They can be triggered by heavy precipitation or volcanic eruptions, and cause significant damage.
A hurricane or a typhoon, whether it's in the Atlantic or the Pacific, these powerful storms can cost lives and reap billions of dollars of damage when they hit vulnerable coastlines. Although meteorogolists are increasingly adept at predicting these massive cyclones with each passing season, knowing a hurricane's projected path doesn't mean a whole lot if preparations aren't in place to cope with the aftermath after it strikes land. Hurricane Katrina is undoubtedly the most powerful and costly example of this kind of storm, costing more than $100 billion in damage, killing more than 1,800 people and nearly wiping an entire US city off the map.