Use an atlas, Google Earth, Bing maps or another mapping website to describe Taiwan’s location. Use the coordinates below to visit the former site of Xialoin village and show the location. The coordinates mark roughly the centre of the village before Typhoon Morakot.
Coordinates: N 23o 29’45.13 E 20o 38’ 37.33
Zoom to ground level and use Street View (if using Google Earth) along Route 21 to consider the evidence of landslides, the relief of the area and vegetation. The geology in this valley is very weak and prone to landslides, especially after heavy precipitation.
Next, we shall consider the economic context of Taiwan. The GDP per capita of the UK in 2012 was US$31,295 and its life expectancy 80 years of age. Try to predict the GDP per capita and life expectancy of Taiwan and what impact this would have on the country’s ability to cope with disasters. Use Gapminder World to visualise this. Select the United Kingdom and place a sticky note or mark where you expect Taiwan to be. You may also wish to consider other countries that have experienced natural disasters such as Haiti.
Taiwan’s GDP per capita in 2012 was US$32,841 and its life expectancy was 79. Is this surprising? What effect would this have on disaster management?
According to this report by the World Bank, Taiwan leads the world in the proportion of people exposed to the number of natural hazards. This can be visualised in Gapminder World. Taiwan and its mountain communities are affected by typhoons, intensive rainfall, steep mountain slopes and fast flowing rivers that often flood.
Revisit the former location of Xiaolon Village by displaying the coordinates above on Google Earth. Imagine you are researchers setting up a research station is this area to map hazards. You have been asked to help brief the scientist team. First, rank the hazards that affect this region using the table, and then give an explanation for each ranking. Which combination of disasters would be the most deadly?
Preparation for next lesson
Consider what you would want to take with you if you were asked to evacuate your home and why.