Mythology Disaster Natural

It is useful to be assured that the heavings of the Earth are not the work of angry deities. These phenomena have causes all their own.

It seems that nowadays more than ever we continue to read about natural disasters affecting diverse cultures all over the globe. It is difficult to go for a day without reading about some natural disaster affecting one or another part of the world. From flash floods, to earthquakes, to severe weather and droughts, natural disasters affect all nations directly or indirectly. These natural disasters are said to be the direct consequences of humans effects on the environment. Factors such as human sprawl, the over-exploitation of natural resources, pollution, overpopulation, etc.; are considered to be explanations as to why these natural disasters occur and why they have such dire consequences. But, is this accurate and how have these disasters been explained throughout the ages?

This unit explores content concepts related to the scientific and non-scientific reasons as to why and how natural disasters originate. Additionally, it looks at the way that throughout the ages, different cultures have attempted to explain why these disasters take place. Furthermore, this unit is written with the second language learner in mind. Although, I often will refer to the students as English Language Learners (ELLs), unless otherwise mentioned, this term will be inclusive of all language learners and thus will refer to all second language learners. Thus, the English speaker learning Spanish in a dual language, a structured immersion program, or in a bilingual program, is at the heart of the lessons and strategies here presented. In addition, the unit is an exercise in integrating the national TESOL (Teaching of English to Speakers of Other Languages) standards and the different content standards in social studies, and science.

The goal of this unit is to provide the classroom teacher with some model activities that integrate the TESOL and content standards in the four language domains of listening, speaking, reading and writing, as the students explore the theme of natural disasters and related myths. Students then are asked to explore some first hand and second hand accounts of major natural disasters affecting the New England states such as the hurricane of 1938, the blizzard of 1888, or the year without a summer (1816).

In order to accomplish this, It will content about:

1 Differentiate between scientific and non-scientific rationales to natural disasters

2 Study and compare the scientific and legend or myth of a natural disaster

3 Observe how natural disasters affect life cycles, habitats, and ecosystems

4 Recognize relationships between events and people of the past and present circumstances, concerns, and developments

5 Locate the events, peoples, and places they have studied in time and place (e.g., on a time line and a map) relative to their own location 6 Gather information from multiple sources, including archives or electronic databases, to have experience with historical sources and to appreciate the need for multiple perspectives

The following is a list of the key concepts that are targeted throughout the unit:

1 Earth is an active planet fueled by various energy sources

2 Energy is derived from Earth’s interior, the Sun, and impacts with comets and asteroids

3 The study and movement and interactions of the lithosphere plates (plate tectonics) helps us understand the origins of mountains, volcanoes, and earth movements 4 Natural disasters are fatal when humans get in the way of Earth’s processes

5 Natural laws are uniform through time and space: the present is the key to the past

6 Humans throughout the ages search for explanations to life’s events

7 Humans have direct and indirect effects on our environment and habitat that affect some naturally occurring events

8 Humans interact with life’s events in time and space, shaping our past, present and future

What is the definition of a natural disaster? What is the relationship between Earth’s workings and natural disasters? What are the direct and indirect environmental, economic, and human impacts of these severe weather and dynamic patterns on habitats and ecosystems? How have we explained through the ages the effects that natural disasters have on communities and society? How did these events affect the lives of people and how have they shaped our present? These are some of the central questions that frame this curricular unit.

Since the dawn of mankind, humans have looked for explanations of natural phenomena that they are unable to understand. There are many one myths related to the creation of the world. Otherwise called cosmic architecture that will be studied and will represent a stepping-stone to the study of the scientific understanding on how natural disasters originate. The Greek philosopher Aristotle (354-322) defined the material world as composed of four elements: earth, water, fire, and air and four properties of matter: heat, cold, humidity, and dryness. At the same time, myths and legends explained how these elements are created and how they affect our lives.

I explore the following natural disasters and myths and legends related to:

1 Hurricanes and Nor’easters

2 Tornadoes, thunderstorms, and floods

3 Earthquakes and tsunami

4 Volcanoes

In order to understand the origins of earthquakes, volcanoes, and tsunami, one needs to understand the role that the tectonic cycle plays in Earth’s recycling of the outer layers. The Earth is composed of different density layers; a solid metallic inner core surrounded by a liquid outer core, and mantle core composed of heavy rock. This mantle core is composed of the asthenosphere layer (a weak solid), the lithosphere (a strong solid), oceanic crust (low-density rock), and a hydrosphere (liquid) layer. Above the crust, we have the atmosphere composed of gases. In order to visualize the way that plate tectonics works, and the different layers that make up the Earth, the metaphor of a hard-boiled egg is a useful one. The Earth’s core is the yolk, the rest of the egg is the mantle, composed of the shell (lithosphere), the slippery inner lining (asthenosphere), and the egg white (Abbott, 2004).

In the tectonic cycle, melted asthenosphere flows upward as magma, and solidifies to make up the ocean floor or lithosphere. The tectonic cycle can be described as the recycling of the upper layers of the Earth (asthenosphere, lithosphere, and the oceanic or continental crust). Through seafloor spreading, this new lithosphere moves sideways from the oceanic crust on top of the asthenosphere. When two separate slabs of oceanic lithosphere collide (depending on the age, temperature, and density of the slabs), can either turn downward into the asthenosphere (subduction) where it is reabsorbed into the mantle, or if the layer is less dense the slab can override it.

Most everyone is familiar with the concept of plate tectonics, the study and movement and interactions of the lithosphere plates. But what is the role that these plates play in the formation of mountains, volcanoes, and earth movements (earthquakes)? Because of the sea floor spreading, these lithosphere plates can either pull apart at divergent zones, slide past each other at transform faults, or collide with each other at convergent zones, Each of these processes account for the different types of earthquakes, mountain formations, and volcanoes.

Most of the earthquakes and volcanoes can be explained in terms of plate tectonics. The lithosphere is broken down into different plates that depending on whether they collide, move away, or go past each other, generate different types of earthquakes. When the plates pull-apart, they cause the rock to fail and smaller earthquakes take place. These earthquakes do not tend to pose great threat to humans. When the plates move past each other in horizontal movements, also called transform faults, larger earthquakes are a consequence of the irregularity in the plate boundaries. It is where two plates converge that the most serious earthquakes originate. These usually occur at subduction zones where one of the plates is pushed back into the mantle releasing incredible amounts of energy that can produce catastrophic earthquakes.