There is nothing like a natural disaster to remind humans how little control we have over the most powerful forces on the planet. Fortunately, too, there is nothing like an environmental catastrophe to bring people together and show the positive power of human collaboration in the face of adversity. Grouped into the four ancient elemental categories of land, water, fire and sky here are thirty of the most devastating disasters in recent human history.
8 Devastating Earth and Land Disasters: The planet beneath our feat is supposed to be the most steadfast and safe stuff on the Earth. When land gives way through sinkholes, shakes in earthquakes or slips in landslides it can turn your world upside down in an instant. Here are some of the most terrifying natural land disasters documented and photographed in recent human history.
6 Chilling Ice and Water Disasters: Water is the ultimate giver of life but in some cases can be a destructive force just as dangerous as fire. Floods can wash people, homes and belongings away, tsunamis ravish coastlines too fast to be anticipated in some cases and ice storms can leave people frozen alive and objects caught in their devastating path broken even after the thaw.
6 Scorching Heat and Fire Disasters: Fire is essential to the natural world as a replenishing force but can get out of hand in an instant, threatening lives and homes. The heat and ash from volcanoes are just as potentially deadly as the molten lava that flows from their tops. While urban areas are safer from fires than they once were fire concerns are still central to the way we build our world today.
10 Sweeping Wind and Sky Disasters: Peaceful skies can turn overcast in a moment, and pleasant breezes can turn into deadly wind storms in the blink of an eye. Some lucky (or unlucky) people have found themselves in the eyes of storms with a video or still-shot camera and have caught amazingly close disasters on film while others have shot these incredible phenomena from the sky.