Regulations are one way to formalize our societal values, such as safe building standards, protection of certain species or habitats, or fair resource management. These regulations are often absent for certain values, or if not absent, they may be poorly enforced, due to lack of political willpower or conflicting interests. As regulations are only useful to the extent they are well enforced and/or adhered to, proper enforcement of regulations is one of the biggest challenges to laws intended to protect people and the environment from risks.
Lack of regulation
On 14 August 2021, Haiti was hit by a magnitude 7.2 earthquake with an epicentre in the Canal du Sud (120 km west of the capital, Port-au-Prince). The earthquake killed over 2,200 people and injured more than 12,000.
On 1 September 2021, remnants of Hurricane Ida, the costliest disaster of 2021, brought historic rainfall to New York City, triggering the city’s first-ever flash flood alerts as water flooded streets, subway stations and apartments.
Lagos faces increasingly severe annual flooding, exacerbated by sea level rise and subsidence. In 2021, floods again submerged vehicles and houses, displacing thousands from their homes.
The vaquita is a species of porpoise on the brink of extinction with less than 10 individuals estimated to be left in the wild. Although not commercially targeted, the vaquita is collateral damage in an ongoing conflict between fishers, government and international illegal trade.
In 2020 alone, an area of the Amazon forest burnt down that was larger than Fiji. While fire is often a natural process to manage vegetation, 9 out of 10 of the Amazon fires in 2020 were intentionally set to convert tropical rainforest into commercially used land.
On 4 August 2020, more than 200 people lost their lives and more than 6,000 were injured when a massive explosion of ammonium nitrate destroyed much of the port area of Beirut.
From 11 to 20 February 2021, a powerful cold wave swept across North America. In Texas, the freezing temperatures killed at least 210 people and caused the power grid to fail, leaving 3.5 million people without electricity and heat.