Human Environment - Environment Essay Example

Areas with high population densities are usually dense because they are easier for people to live in e - Human Environment introduction.g. flat lowlands or areas with a reasonable climate. They may also be areas with important resources e.g. coal, oil, metals. Or they may be in easily accessible positions e.g. near major rivers. Countries that are densely populated are Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Japan, UK. Most of these countries have sub-tropical to temperate climates and abundant flat land.

Physical factors such as mountains, deserts or extreme climates often mean that an area is sparsely populated. Examples of sparsely populated areas are Canada, Bolivia, Australia, Russia, Namibia.

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Population density figures often give the average for each country, but remember there can be great variety within a country. A good example is Japan, where 75% of the land is mountainous so consequently, 77% of the population live on 16% of the land. Other countries that appear to have low population densities actually have very crowded major cities e.g. the USA and Brazil. GNP (gross national product) and other indicators can give a more accurate picture of HDI (human development indicator). GNP is a measure of how wealthy the country is and HDI takes a range of indicators into account. The development indicators are:

Birth and Death rates: The number of births & deaths per year, per 1,000 people.

Population growth rate: The difference between birth and death rate.

Life expectancy: The age you can expect to live to.

Infant mortality: The number of infants who die before their first birthday, per 1,000 births.

GNP per capita: Gross national product measures the amount of money a country makes from it’s products and services, divided by the total population.

GDP: Gross Domestic Product.

HDI: Human Development Indicator is calculated by using GNP and a variety of other indicators to give a more accurate measure of development.

* Poorer countries usually have more subsistence farmers (grow crops just for their family to live on – little or no profit involved). MEDCs, on the other hand have more commercial farmers than subsistence farmers.

* Developing countries are mostly south of the North-South divide.

* Most developing countries are found within the tropics.

* None are found in Europe or North America.

* Nearly all developing countries are in South America, Asia and Africa.

Water borne diseases, if widespread, can severely stop a country developing. Diarrhoea, Dysentery, Cholera, Typhoid and Guinea Worm are examples of water borne diseases. All serious diseases found in tropical developing regions associated with means that these countries stay poor. Malaria is one of these diseases. Natural/environmental hazards occur every so often, like tornados, floods etc, which sets the country back a few years.

Wealthy countries can afford to trade goods. MEDCs usually have relatively good transport and communications for cheaper, easier trade. LEDCs, on the other hand have little money to buy technology and industrialise so these countries are stuck and can’t make many profits. Overseas aid is a vital source of income to a struggling LEDC but if it has interest attached, even at low rates, or is simply a loan that has to be paid back, it rarely helps the country, often only the country that supplies the cash benefits.

Bangladesh is one of the world’s most populated countries – 120 million people are crowded into the delta formed by the Ganges and Brahmaputra rivers. Bangladesh is also one of the world’s poorest countries. Natural disasters are commonplace – floods and cyclones are the usual. In Bangladesh, a hot climate encourages all-year crop growth. There is plenty of rain from the monsoons and rivers. The rivers flood cropland every year and renew the fertile silt. However, the floods can be more widespread as the country is very flat and low- lying. Fisheries along the river are a natural resource. The cyclones (e.g. 1991) and floods (e.g. 1998) kill thousands and leave millions homeless. Drinking water is then contaminated, causing diseases such as typhoid and cholera (listed above). The aid Bangladesh receives is used to fund bridges, roads and power stations – the poor people feel little benefit. This is similar to countries all over the world that are given aid.

Managing Resources

The management of resources is crucial to sustainable development. Some natural resources are being created extremely slowly so they are considered non-renewable. The use of these resources has been increasing due to population growth. There is now an urgent need to conserve these resources otherwise the future will have to involve renewable energy sources only. Resources also include tourist opportunities, which has good and bad points but definitely needs some form of management and/or conservation.

MEDCs use much more energy per person than LEDC’s.

* Oil can be found in the Middle East, Indonesia and the U.S.A.

* Natural Gas can be found in Canada and North Africa.

* Coal is found mainly in Western Europe.

* Nuclear Power is produced in many MEDCs.

* H.E.P energy is found in Brazil and highland areas like Scotland.

* Wind Turbines are located in Denmark and Cornwall.

* Geothermal energy is produced in New Zealand.

When burnt, coal produces carbon dioxide, which in turn pollutes the atmosphere. Reserves are expected to last 300 years from now. Open cast mining causes visual and noise pollution, e.g. Daisy Hill, but quarries can be filled in again with the excess waste when all the coal has been extracted.

Oil and natural gas are easy to transport and are also less harmful to the environment than coal. However, the burning of these substances release harmful chemicals that contributes to acid rain. The acid can be carried by rain across country borders and also from one continent to another e.g. the U.K. to Scandinavia. Countries that have lots of impermeable rock cannot absorb the acid rain and it is often carried as surface water to rivers and lakes that are then automatically contaminated, often along with the fish stocks and other animals.

Nuclear energy contributes to global warming less than coal, oil and gas. Global warming is caused by the greenhouse effect, which in turn is caused by gases being unable to leave the atmosphere once they have entered it, trapping heat radiation. The waste from nuclear energy is very radioactive and has to be kept safe for a very long time before it is safe to unload. If gases such as carbon dioxide are continually released into the atmosphere, the greenhouse effect will cause sea-level rises that will flood large low-lying areas such as Bangladesh.

Fuel wood is renewable, providing that the same amount of trees that are cut down are planted again.

Hydro-electric power is relatively cheap and renewable but it’s expensive to build the dams in the first place. Some people view wind turbines as eyesores but opinion is divided. This form of energy is renewable and cheap once set up.

The Lake District is naturally an area that attracts tourists who come for the beauty the area has to offer. Tourist numbers are increasing, because there are longer paid holidays and it is easier to travel nowadays. The area offers water activities, hiking opportunities, hotels, scenery, history, museums, special train services etc.

Conflicts do exist though: Local residents dislike the amount of visitors, the army creates noise, which the walkers and ramblers hate, farmers find the walkers objectionable because the walkers’ dogs chase sheep and leave gates open whilst dropping litter. Holiday homes are bought by visitors, increasing the house prices until the locals can no longer compete. Roads become congested and cause air pollution, which ironically is usually one of the things the visitors are trying to avoid by visiting the scenic areas. Everyone detests erosion, which is caused by the sheer number of people trampling around the muddy patches already on the path, increasing the eroded width of the path.

There are extra resources such as fisheries that a country can benefit from.

Industry

There are three categories of employment – primary, secondary and tertiary.

The balance of jobs between these three categories in a particular area is called the employment structure.

Individual firms and types of industry change over time. They grow, expand and sometimes decline. A key reason for some changes in employment structure is mechanisation – the use of machines to do jobs rather than people.

Primary industry Jobs where people obtain raw materials e.g. mining, farming.

Secondary industry Manufacturing jobs e.g. steelworking.

Tertiary industry Services e.g. banking.

Employment structure The division of employment in an area between the three different sectors.

Multiplier effect The way in which a new development in an area encourages further economic growth in that area e.g. a new factory comes to an area, then shops open up nearby.

Market The buyers for a particular product.

Brownfield sites An area in a town that has been used in the past but can be redeveloped.

Greenfield sites An area that has never been developed before, often on the edge of a town.

Labour People who work in a firm.

Capital The money tied up in a firm.

Some factors a firm would need to consider when deciding on a location include:

* The presence of a suitable workforce nearby.

* A suitable site – cost, size, flat, greenfield, brownfield. Existing/purpose built accommodation for workers.

* Links with other firms.

* Communications (for distribution of finished goods, receiving raw materials, movement of workers).

* Local restrictions on development, for example, a green belt.

* Access to customers.

Here are three pie charts showing the employment structure for three countries at different stages of development:

All countries around the world are interdependent – they need each other for many different things. Some have a greater number of links than others. These links may include trading raw materials (for example, aluminium ore) or finished products (for example, cars), selling food, the movement of people for tourism and business, or political and defence agreements.

Employment structure How the workforce is divided up between the three employment sectors.

Importing Bringing something into a country. For example, the UK imports bananas from the Caribbean.

Exporting Sending something out of a country to sell abroad. For example, the UK exports cars to the rest of Europe.

Interdependence When things co-exist. For example, the countries in the world are interdependent because they have many links, such as trade.

Inward Investment The process of a transnational corporation putting money into another country, by building factories for example.

Transnational corporations are large companies, which have branches, offices and/or factories in several different countries, for example, Nissan. TNCs are also called multinational corporations. There are many reasons why a TNC may wish to operate abroad:

* It may be looking to reduce transport costs for the finished product.

* To get within ‘trade barriers’.

* To find cheaper workers.

* To be more visible to the target area’s consumers.

When locating abroad a company might consider the following points:

1. Good road access for workers and components?

2. Airport nearby for business trips?

3. Plenty of workers nearby?

4. Relatively cheap workforce due to unemployment in the area?

5. Financial incentives available?

6. Flat site with room for expansion?

7. Natural disasters possible?

The Nissan factory was built in 1984 on a greenfield site outside Sunderland. Now the factory produces over 200,000 cars each year. This results in an increase in employment opportunities with 3000+ jobs available. Although unemployment in the North East is still relatively high due to the decline of heavy industry, these jobs increase wealth and quality of life directly for all families involved.

Local shops and businesses are helped by Nissan’s employees (or Nissan itself) spending money in their establishments. Nissan has invested around �1.5 billion in the company since 1984, so the jobs should be fairly stable for the future, providing security for the families. In the long term, the local government in the area will benefit through taxes from Nissan, which means that money can be put into local services.

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