Environmental disasters are catastrophic man-made events that impact humans, communities and the environment (e.g. an oil spill or a radiation leak from a nuclear reactor). Naturally caused events (e.g. an “Act of God”) are called “natural disasters”. However, the distinction can blur; the destructive effects of a bush fire are not differentiated whether they are caused by arson, spontaneous combustion or by a lightning strike. In many cases, humans may not be the immediate direct cause, but are indirectly and partially responsible. For example, government policies might have led to an outcome where the environmental disaster is exacerbated, such as deforestation leading to mudslides or fertiliser run-off leading to algal blooms in stored water or in building housing subdivisions in seismically-active or bush fire-prone areas or on known flood plains. Climate change further blurs the distinction between natural and man-made environmental disasters in relation to extreme meteorological events such as tornadoes, cyclones, coastal flooding from storm surges, and intense bush fires after protracted droughts and severe heatwaves.

Environmental disasters can be sudden, short-term events such as avalanches and earthquakes, or of medium-term duration such as flooding, or long-term such as droughts that can last many years. The severity can ease naturally, such as a heatwave coming to an end or it can steadily and irreversibly accumulate, such as salinity in the Murray-Darling.

The impact of catastrophic environmental events on society can be immense, running into many billions worth of property damage, destroying lives and businesses, and disrupting both communities and the economy. The aftermath can last decades and have far reaching effects such as requiring long-term government assistance, insurance industry bailouts and initiating refugee migrations.

Australia, fortunately, is not as prone to volcanism, avalanches, tornadoes, icy blizzards or tsunamis as other countries, but is susceptible to severe bush fire, tropical cyclones and flooding. In addition, the impact of climate change is predicted to impact the Australian continent to a higher degree throughout the 21st century, causing more extreme and more frequent weather events.

At the bottom of this profile are brief details of a number of the experts that Expert Experts represents. Call our office to discuss your requirements and to obtain a recommendation that suits your needs and budget.

Expertise in Action

Experts in environmental disasters can help prevent, mitigate or manage the response to catastrophic events. They will have worked in or with organisations responsible for attending to disaster areas such as the State Emergency Service, Australian Defence Force, Police, and Ambulance paramedics.

Experts can provide opinion on to degree to which a disaster was caused directly by humans.

Experts can also specialise in the economic impacts of disasters, particularly in the insurance industry and assessing the scale of government relief.

Sample Reports

For some fields of expertise we have some sample sections of de-identified reports. Please contact our office if you are interested in a sample.


The overall cost of expert opinion depends on the services required. Some of the key factors that affect the cost of advice include:

  • The need for a view or inspection of a location
  • The quantity of documentary material to be reviewed
  • Whether there are reports of other experts to be reviewed and commented on in detail
  • Whether there is a need for conferences with the expert either in person or by telephone/Skype
Relevant Articles DISASTER MANAGEMENT BILL 2003 Explanatory Notes

The policy objective of the legislation is to help communities mitigate the potential adverse effects of an event, to prepare for managing the effects of an event and to effectively respond to and recover from a disaster or emergency situation. These events can be natural, including cyclones, floods, storms or epidemics, or caused by human acts of omissions, such as failure of an essential service or a terrorist attack.

Relevant Cases Stone v Wellington SC [2013] VCAT 1916

The Country Fire Authority objected to the grant of a planning permit (for a dwelling) on a number of grounds relating to bush fire protection and safety.

Related Blog Articles

A sample of our experts in Science - Environmental disasters

Below are short profiles of a few experts with expertise in this field. Please contact our office to discuss your specific requirements and to obtain a recommendation that suits your needs and budget. Expert Experts are experts in finding the right expert for your needs and you pay no more to use Expert Experts than if you searched and found the expert yourself.

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