disaster /dɪˈzæs.tɚ/ (plural disasters)
- An unexpected natural or man-made catastrophe of substantial extent causing significant physical damage or destruction, loss of life or sometimes permanent change to the natural environment. - http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/disaster
Or from Wikipedia's Disaster portal,
- A natural disaster is the consequence of the combination of a natural hazard (a physical event e.g. volcanic eruption, earthquake, storm, flood, drought, fire, etc) and human activities. Human vulnerability, sometimes including the lack of appropriate emergency management, leads to financial, structural, and human losses.
- A man-made disaster is a disaster that is accidentally or intentionally created by humans. Examples of man-made disasters include explosions, pollution, terrorist incidents, shipwrecks, stampedes, industrial incidents, climate changes, wars, etc.
It could be argued that Global Warming and Climate Change aren't immediate (like most disasters) or are a cause of disaster more than a disaster itself, but suffice it say that climate change's horrendous impacts across the globe make this more a matter of semantics. Climate change is a manmade disaster - something we all can work to prevent and affects us all.
For recent news & studies looking at the impact of climate change in relation to disasters, check out these VashonBePrepared blogs for current reporting on the subject we have noticed.
The U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) coordinates and integrates federal research on changes in the global environment and their implications for society. Their reports on climate change's national impact - as well as the changes specific to the Pacific Northwest highlight the scope and scale of the impact for us in Washington: