The CIE IGCSE/GCSE Geography Exams require the study of specific demographical, geological and economical features. You can find their complete case studies below.

Overpopulation in Bangladesh

Lack of resources, poor infrastructure and under-developed technology coupled with the high population have been responsible for decreasing the carrying capacity of the region.

Problems of overpopulation:

Overcrowded streets in Dhaka
Overpopulation: street crowds in Dhaka by Ahron de Leeuw

Overpopulation in Bangladesh resulted in overcrowded areas with traffic congestion as there are too many vehicles on the the roads, especially in cities such as Dhaka. Vehicle emissions, industrial discharge and burning of fossil fuels have resulted in air pollution, while the ground water has been polluted due to arsenic. Furthermore, shortage of food lead to overcultivation on the flood plains of the Ganges river, causing lower yields and soil exhaustion. Another major problem is the widespread deforestation for firewood on the slopes of the Himalayas.

The capital of Bangladesh, Dhaka, also suffers from severe housing shortages due to mass urbanisation.

Canada: Underpopulation

Canada is regarded as an underpopulated country as the carrying capacity is much higher than the current population. The 35 million people in Canada can not fully exploit the available resources and technology.

Problems of underpopulation in Canada:

  • Labour shortage: 32% of Canadian employers are encountering difficulties in hiring workers due to a lack of applicants
  • Services (eg. schools, hospitals and transport) close down as there are not enough customers.
  • Less innovation and development (lee brain power)
  • Difficulties in defending the country

    Isolated grain mill in Alberta: Canada
    By Jef Wallace

Canada has tried to promote immigration to maintain the fairly high standard of living, but in the previous decades less people are migrating to Canada, than during the 1950’s and 1960’s.

Solutions:

  • relaxing immigrant policies and visa requirements to encourage migration
  • Pro-natal goverment support to increase the birth rate eg. subsidies and parental leave programmes
  • allow pensioners to continue working

China: One Family One Child Policy

Anti-natal population policy

China is world’s most populous country with more than 1.3 billion people in 2014. Representing 20% of the world’s people, China suffers from extreme overpopulation.

China became overpopulated since 1960 because of:

  • social/cultural desire to have a son
  • economical bonus: men could work in the field
  • children considered to be social security
  • politics: stronger China against America
  • previously poor medical infrastructure- high infant mortality rate
  • flood 1959-1962: 20 million died

In 1965 the birth rate had grown to 40 births per 1000 until politicians realised the growing problem and launched the One Family One Child Policy in 1979.

Encouragements to limit to one child Penalties
·     5-10% salary bonus ·     fines: US$ 400-US$ 1400
·     free education and health care ·     10% salary reduction
·     free contraceptions ·     no free education
·     preferential employment ·     no free access to health care
·     preferential housing ·     forced abortion
·     not allowed to buy a house

Positive consequences of the policy:one family one child policy

  • better education and skilled workforce
  • average fertility reduced to 1.7
  • low urban poverty

Negative consequences of the policy:

  • female foeticide
  • forced abortion
  • abnormal sex ratio/ imbalanced
  • more divorce: desire to have a boy
  • lack of working population to support old dependents
  • girls abandoned, killed, in orphanage

Exceptions to the policy:

  • Han-Chinese allowed a second child
  • rural areas
  • ethnic minorities
Map Enforcement of the One Family One Child Policyf
Enforcement of One Child Policy in China

Germany: Pro-natal population policy

In Germany, the fertility rate is well below replacement level, having dropped to 1.38 births per woman in 2012. Birth rates have been falling for many years, and the youth plus the immigrants will be unable to support  Germany’s ageing population.

For this reason, Germany has adopted several measures that attempt to encourage families to have more children:

  • paid maternity leave and parental leave
  • tax breaks to tax payers that have children
  • eliminating fees for kindergarden
  • free schooling
  • encouraging immigration
    Pro-natal Population Policy Germany

 Japan: Population distribution in a densely populated country

With a population of around 130 million (2015), and a population density of 336 people per km² (2015),  Japan is one of the most densely populated countries in the world.

Uneven population distribution

Sparsely populated rural areas: very few people live on the mountainous slopes in the centre of Honshu island and the south of Shikoku island, because of:

  • Lack of flat land for cultivation
  • Thin, infertile and acidic soils
  • Extreme climate: long cold winters with heavy snow
  • Remoteness and isolation: transport and communication are difficult
  • Few jobs available (only in forestry/ primary sector)
File:Japan Population density map.svg
Population density in Japan (by Zuanzuanfuwa, CC BY-SA 3.0)

Densely populated rural areas: many people live on the flat valleys and gentle slopes of Honshu and Kyushu islands because they:

  • provide fertile land for cultivation and thus, have attracted many farmers
  • attract commuters who work in the cities through the high standard of living and services such as out-of-town shopping malls and sports facilities.

Densely populated urban areas: many people live in towns and cities along the coast, especially on Honshu island, in the conurbation of Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka; because of:

  • flat land with mild winters
  • good service provision like universities and technologically advanced hospitals and health facilities
  • good transport facilities such as the Port of Tokyo to facilitate the import of raw materials and the export of manufactured goods

Canada: A Sparsely populated country

With a population of around 35 million (2015), and a population density of 3.87 people per km² in 2013, Canada is considered a sparsely populated country.

Canada is sparsely populated due to the following reasons:

  • many mountainous areas eg. Canadian Rockies close to the west coast
  • permafrost in the Northern areas (high latidtudes) so land is too cold for agriculture
  • snow and ice make transport difficult, especially in less developed areas (ie. the inner provinces of Canada)

Canada: Population distribution

The population of Canada is clustered in the Southern areas; because, the cold Arctic climate makes cultivation impossible and it is rather unpleasant to live in those cold areas. Also, more people live in Eastern areas, since the West has mountainous areas such as the Canadian Rockies that are too steep to farm on easily and challenging for construction and transport.

Russia: Population decline

Russia has a population growth rate of -0.3%. This has been caused by factors like:

  • high death rate of 13 deaths per 1000, particularly due to alcohol-related deaths
  • low fertility rate of 1.6 children per woman
  • high rates of abortion
  • low levels of immigration

Problems of population decline:File:Flag-map of Russia.svg

  • underuse of health facilities, resulting in rising costs
  • education cannot be sustained in all areas (particularly sparsely populated)
  • resources not fully exploited, leading to lower GDP
  • lack of workers may result in economic recession

Solutions:

  • pro-natal population policies, eg. financial support for parents who choose to have a second child
  • robotisation/development of tertiary sector to prevent lack of workers

Uganda: High population growth rate

Uganda has a population growth rate of more than 3% due to its high birth rate of 44 births per 1000 people per year. This has been caused by factors such as:

  • low socio-economic status of women
  • low educational levels, especially among females
  • early marriage
  • low use of contraception due to limited access and poverty
  • political statements encouraging more babies as some areas in Uganda have a low population density

Problems of high population growth:

  • Health sector faces human and infrastructural shortages
  • Primary education could not be sustained in all areas
  • Insufficient employment opportunities, especially for poorly educated
  • Threatens agricultural modernisation as population pressure increases deforestation, soil erosion and land degration
  • Pressure on resources, especially in urban areas

Solutions to reduce population growth:

  • Widespread availability of contraception
  • Universal access to education, jobs and health care and female emancipation
  • Promotion of scientific and technical development (tertiary sector)
  • Promotion of new modes of production (modernisation and commercialisation of agriculture)
  • Growth with equity/sustainable development

For more information visit: Population growth rate in Uganda

Uganda: Youthful population

In 2014, 48.7% of Uganda’s population were young dependents under the age of 15.

Causes:

  • high fertility rate (many children per woman) and high birth rate
  • high infant mortality rate encourages more births so some will survive
  • children considered social and economic asset
  • high death rate increases the percentage of young dependentsMap of Uganda

Benefits:

  • few old dependents that have to be supported
  • possibly a large workforce in future

Problems

  • Overpopulation if growth is not regulated, resulting in overcrowding, construction of shanty towns, lower standard of life, increased pollution, depletion of resources and food shortages (which encourage deforestation resulting in soil exhaustion and lower yields), as wells as future unemployment
  • Stress on tax payers to support young dependents and finance development of necessary infrastructure

United Kingdom: Ageing population

The percentage of elderly dependents (+65 years) has increased by 3% from 15% in 1980 to 18% in 2014.

Benefits:

  • Elderly people can share skills and knowledge to train the younger generation
  • Elderly people promote the development of grey economies (such as health care, specialised facilities, other facilities desired by elderly, etc.)
  • Elderly continue to pass on traditions and culture.Ageing population person

Problems:

An increase in the percentage of elderly dependents is a strain on the working population as higher taxation is required to support the pensions of the elderly and to fund services such as health care and specialised homes. Government-funded pensions may have to shrink to cover everybody, leaving many people with less to spend (and some in poverty). In contrast, services for younger people, such as schools, are underused. These services may then have to close (eg. Woodly School in North Yorkshire which shut in 2012 due to a lack of students). As a result, some people may be left unemployed. Also, there are not enough economically active people, causing a lack of workforce and making it harder to defend the country.

HIV/AIDS: Botswana

Botswana is a landlocked country, north of South Africa. UNAIDS estimates that 400,000 people in Botwana live with HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus).

Map of Botswana

HIV/AIDS is transferred through bodily fluids. In Botswana, this occurs mainly during sexual intercourse or from mother to child during pregnancy. AIDS can also spread via contaminated blood transfusions or contaminated needle use (usually in drug users).

As a LEDC country Botswana is particularly vulnerable to HIV because of:

  • poor sex education (people are unaware of the consequences of unprotected sex)
  • low availability of contraception: many people have unprotected sex
  • low status of women: women can not disapprove of unprotected sex, as they are perceived as child bearers
  • low availabilty of medical treatment and testing: many people are unaware that they are infected so the disease spreads easily
  • poverty: few people can afford anti-retroviral drugs to control the severity of the symptoms

Consequences of HIV/AIDS:

  • High death rate and lower life expectancy, especially in economically active population
  • Falling birth rate due to abstinence (fear of becoming infected), so people have less children
  • Decreased labour pool reduces agricultural and industrial output, causing food shortages and poverty, thus preventing economic growth

Solutions:

  • AIDS education programme: used mass media to reach 500,000 students and teach them about HIV/AIDS
  • Offering free condoms to population
  • Improvements in HIV testing and anti-retroviral drugs in government clinics

For more information visit: https://www.patana.ac.th/Secondary/Geography/IB/Population/AIDs%20Botswanna.htm

Syria to Germany: International Refugee Migration

Approximately 13 million Syrians are escaping the war between the Assad regime and non-state armed forces, 800,000 of which have come to Germany so far.

Many are fleeing from barrel bombings and shootings that have destroyed their houses and killed family members. Also, the refugees are attempting to avoid political persecution, as the goverment has arrested and tortured civilians who they think could be working against them. Others are emigrating to prevent being abused by radically religious groups such as IS, who have trained child soldiers and organised kidnappings and extrajudicial executions.

Many seek asylum in Germany, because the country provides economic stability as the current unemployment rate is low, and many sectors will be looking for suitable workers as Germany’s population continues to age. Besides, Germany is perceived as a country that protects and promotes human rights, offering food, shelter and language courses to refugees.

Rural Settlement (LEDC): Korodegaga village

Korodegaga village – near Addis Ababa in Ethiopia – consists of nine small hamlets with 1400 people in total.

File:Et-map.png

The area was first settled in th 20th century because of:

  • water supply from two rivers
  • flat, fertile soil for cultivation
  • extensive forests for building and firewood

Services provided include: a grain mill, mosques and schools. Villagers walk to the neighbouring towns of Dera and Bofa to access a local market and shops.

Rural settlement (MEDC): Hötzum, Lower Saxony, Germany

Hötzum has a population of around 900 people. Its function is mainly residential, with most people working in the nearby cities of Braunschweig and Wolfenbüttel.

Karte von BraunschweigMap  by: OpenStreetMap und Mitwirkende Source: OpenStreetMap Licence: CC BY-SA 2.0 Mapicons by: Nicolas Mollet Source: Maps Icons Collection Licence: CC BY SA 3.0

The area was first known to be settled by farmers in the 11th century and by the 18th century, the village had 4 arable farms, a shepherd and 6 horsefarms.

The area was initially settled because of:

  • water supply from the Hötzumerbach and the Feuergraben
  • flat, fertile land for arable and pastoral farming
  • extensive forests which provided many logfelling opportunities

Currently there are very few services available (only a church, a community hall, a sports field and a volunteer fire brigade), but villagers can access the neighbouring village of Sickte for basic services and the cities of Wolfenbüttel and Braunschweig for all other needs.

Urban settlement: New York

Currently, New York is the largest city in the US, with a population of around 8 million people.

Site and situation:

  • at a sheltered, natural harbour formed by Hudson river, which provided safe, deep anchorage and an extensive waterfront for the development of docks
  • Hudson river allowed for transport and communication
  • rocky ridge on Island of Manhatten allowed for easy defence

Free stock photo of city, lights, night, skyline

CBD’s:

  • Downtown Manhatten: Wall Street (finance district of New York)
  • Midtown Manhatten: tourist district, including Fifth Avenue (shopping), Broadway (theatre), hotels, Empire State Building, Chrysler and United Nations Buildings

Urban problems:

  • Urban sprawl (middle class moves to the outer areas and lower-income families move into the inner city): due to population growth, relocation of businesses to suburbs for cheaper land and better accessibility
  • Poverty and unemployment: around 1 million citizens receive welfare support due to unemployment and poor education caused by a decline in the clothing and harbour induestries in the 1980’s
  • Urban decay and housing problems
  • Racial conflicts due to a large number of immigrants that become trapped in poverty
  • Air pollution as there are too many cars that release toxic exhaust fumes
  • Traffic congestion as there are too many vehicles on the road and due to bottlenecks linking various New York Islands
  • Water pollution from oil spills

Solution schemes:

  • Reduction in air pollution by fitting catalytic converters to the exhausts of diesel city busses and developing a biodiesel plant in Brooklyn to distribute biodiesel to filling stations in the city.
  • Reducing energy consumption by using more efficient street light and traffic lights, using renewable energy sources (wind, underwater turbines) to power homes and public buildings
  • Waste management plan using barges and trains to export 90% of the city’s waste

Squatter settlement in Rio de Janiero

Rio de Janiero is the second largest city in Brazil and has a population of 6 million people, of which nearly 17% – 1 million people- are favela-dwellers, living in the slums (called favelas) due to the extremely uneven distribution of wealth.

Rocinha is a favela in Rio
By chensiyuan CC BY-SA 4.0

There are many problems for the shanty town inhabitants:

  • Landslides: As the flat land in Rio de Janiero is inhabited by wealthier communties, most favelas are constructed on the mountainous slopes, where landslides are a common occurence (particularly due to excessive deforestation for firewood)
  • Housing is made from scrap material which is vulnerable to flooding
  • No clean water supply can lead to diseases such as typhoid, cholera or TB
  • Sanitation is undeveloped or non-existent, eg. in Rocinha sewage flows down a large channel in the middle of houses. This allows disease to spread and may attract mosquitoes which are responsible for sicknesses such as malaria
  • No proper electricity supply leads to dangerous tapping of electricity from the city’s power net
  • Illegal activities and high crime rates due to many drug dealers, gangs and murderers

Slum upgrading strategies include :

  • Increasing property rights (providing favela residents with titles to their home)
  • Improving access to electricity and clean drinking water
  • Local trash collection scheme: a bag of trash can be exchanged for a gallon of milk
  • To reduce likelidehood of crime and improve education: toyguns can be exchanged for  comic books

Volcano: Eyjafjallajökull, Iceland, 2010

Image from: http://volcano.si.edu/volcano.cfm?vn=372020

Eyjafjallajökull is a stratovolcano in Iceland, located approximately 125 km SE of the capital Reykjavik. It is found along the Mid-Atlantic ridge, where new earth crust is created.

Lava eruptions in March 2010 were followed by an explosive eruption on April 14th 2010.The lava flows damaged many homes and roads and services were disrupted due to evacuation measures.

Flooding was caused as glacial ice melted and torrents of water were flowing down the slopes of the land. Also, ash covered large plots of agricultural land, damaging the crops.

The massive ash cloud blocked air traffic in large parts of Europe for several days, leaving tourists and business people stranded at their destinations.

Immediate responses included an emergency evacuation of more than 800 people. Longterm responses are the reconstruction of damages houses and roads and research on the effect of ash on air planes.

Earthquake: Haiti, 2010

On the 12th of January 2010 a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti, the epicentre of the quake being merely 15 km SW of the capital city, Port-au-Prince.

File:Haiti Quake Map.png

Stress building up along the conservative margin between the North American Plate and the Carribean plate was released by slippage along the fault running parallel to the plate boundary south of Port-au-Prince. The major earthquake was followed by several aftershocks up to a magnitude of 5.0 on the Richter scale.

The earthquake resulted in approximately 230,000 deaths (massive loss of life), destruction of 180,000 homes and around 5,000 schools. It left 19 million cubic metres of debris in Port-au-Prince and many services were badly disrupted or destroyed. A major secondary effect was widespread chlora due to polluted drinking water.

Haiti suffered so much because of the widespread poverty that left more than 80% of the population in poorly constructed, high density concrete buildings. Lack of stable goverment and medical infrastructure limited search and rescue efforts. Furthermore, the earthquake had a shallow focus, resulting in severe ground shaking, and the epicentre was located close to the densely populated capital.

Short-term responses to the earthquake included search and rescue efforts, as well as the the import of food, water and shelter from the USA and Dominican Republic. Longterm responses included reparation of three-quaters of the damaged buildings. Besides, migration was common as people moved away to stay with their families. Also, people received cash or food in exchange for public reconstruction work and the World Bank pledged $US100m to support the reconstruction and recovery.

Fun facts about earthquakes in general:

Tropical storm: Katrina, 2005

Hurricane Katrina was one of the deadliest hurricanes ever to hit the United States.

How did Katrina form?

Katrina was created from the interaction of the remains of a tropical depression SE of the Bahamas with a storm wave. The storm drifted towards Florida and intensified as it passed over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Katrina intensified before making landfall in Florida and was a Hurricane 3 upon reaching the Mississippi Delta.File:Katrina-noaaGOES12.jpg

Impacts

  • Levees failed to resist the force of the waves, causing 80% of New Orleans to become flooded
  • More than 1000 people lost their lives
  • Half a million houses were damaged in the Gulf Coast region
  • Services in New Orleans were badly disrupted: no electricity, gas and sewage system for 6 months after the event

Responses

  • $ 10.5 billion of immediate financial aid for the victims
  • In the first two weeks after the storm, the Red Cross had brought 74,000 volunteers who provided shelter to 160,000 evacuees
  • International aid from over 50 countries
  • Rebuilding levees destroyed by Katrina

Tsunami in the Indian Ocean, 2004

On December 26th 2004, a tsunami occured in the Indian Ocean.

The tsunami was the direct consequence of a 9.0 magnitude earthquake that was caused by tension along the subduction zone of the Indo-Australian and Eurasian plates. This rupture triggered massive waves that reached an altitude of up to 30m.

The tsunami resulted in 250,000 deaths, with 170,000 fatalities in Indonesia alone. 13 countries were affected by the powerful waves, and an estimated total of 2 million people have been displaced, as their houses have been destroyed.

File:2004 Indian Ocean earthquake - affected countries.png

Created by Cantus

Short term responses included search and rescue efforts in the local communities, while internationally, people sent donations to help those in need.

An early warning system has been developed to predict future tsunamis in the Indian Ocean.

Coastal problems and opportunities: Wadden Sea Islands

The Wadden Sea provides a large diversity of fish species and other seafood animals, making fishery an important industry for the local communities. Besides, tourism is well established in the area, with around 800,000 visitors annually on the Dutch island of Texel alone.

File:Morze Wattowe.png
By Aotearoa (Own work)  CC-BY-SA-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

However, the area is threatened by storm tides, particularly in fall and winter, which may cause floods that damage the unique ecosystem. Furthermore, the continuous eastward shift of the islands has eroded their westmost regions, endangering settlements such as West-Terschelling, which may submerge in future.

Coral reef: Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier reef is located along the Pacific shores, where water temperatures are above 20°C. The reef grows in shallow areas (not more than 60 m deep) in the Coral sea, off the Australian coast, east of Cairns. It grows in clear water that is free of sediment so sunlight can pass through.

File:Wikitravel QLD Map.jpg

Threats:

The Great Barrier reef is threatened by global warming, which increases coral bleaching. Besides, declining water quality (due to agricultural run-off from the rivers of North-Eastern Australia and oil from ships in discarded in the Coral Sea) pollutes the ecosystem. Also, overfishing destroys food chains and disbalances the symbiotic relationships. Furthermore, tourists may destroy parts of the reef when they go diving or reef-walking.

Management strategies:

The Australian government has made the Great Barrier reef a protected area by declaring it a marine park. The GBRMPA (Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority) is the ogranisation who looks after the reef and protects it from human threats while allowing sustainable development to take place. The Marine Park Authority gives out permits for fishing, diving and more and has boats patrol the area to prevent illegal activity. Tourists are educated about how their trip affects the reef and they are not allowed in certain sensitive areas. Also, fines of up to US$ 1 million can be forced on companies that pollute the fragile ecosystem.

Pollution in the North Sea

The North Sea is polluted by oil spillages from tankers in the Thames estuary washing out their tanks. As a result, oil clogs up the gills of fish, casuing them to die. Spillages also pollute the beaches along the British coast (eg. near Essex), which reduces the number of tourists. Besides pollution occurs through the disposal of untreated sewage from large urban areas such as Rotterdam, possibly possessing a human health risk along the Dutch coast. Also, pollutants from industrial waste in the Rhine river may be washed into the sea.

File:North Sea map-en.png

By Halava CC BY-SA 3.0

A Spit: Spurn Head, Holderness Coast, UK

Spurn head  is a sand and shingle ridge that extends from the headland south of Easington. It has been formed along the Holderness coast under the influence of prevailing winds from the North which result in wave refraction. Subsequently, longshore drift transports the coastal sediments, which deposit in the sheltered mouth of the Humber estuary.

Spurn Head, Holderness Coast

Ynyslas Dunes, Wales, UK

The Ynyslas Dunes in Wales have been formed by deposition, which occured as energy of winds blowing from Cardigan Bay was reduced. Westerly onshore winds picked up dry sand from the wide beach at the estuary of the Dovey (Dyfi) river. Obstructions on the beach caused a sheltered area. Maram grass colonised dunes and trapped further sand.

ynyslas dunes
Formation of Ynyslas Dunes, Cardigan Bay

Bangladesh: Ganges-Brahmaputra Delta

The Ganges Delta in Bangladesh is the most populous river delta in the world. Around 30% of its population work in agriculture, as rice cultivation is well developed due to the fertile soils. Also, fishing is very prominent, as the distributaries are colonised by shrimps. However, the Ganges Delta is threatened by floods, especially from heavy rainfall during the monsoon season and icewater runoff from the slopes of the Himalaya.

Bangladesh

Image of Ganges-Brahmaputra Delta from NASA

Water supply: Colorado River Basin

The Colorado river originates from the Rocky Mountains, passing through 7 states before reaching Mexico. It is estimated that 40 million people rely on water from the 2,300 km long stream for domestic, agricultural and industrial purposes. Many dams and canals have been built to control this extreme demand; therefore, the Colorado river is one of the most controlled rivers in the world.

File:Coloradorivermapnew1.jpg

By Shannon, CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0

In 1922, the Colorado River Compact was introduced to divide the water supply between the states of the Upper and Lower Basin of the river, with each group being allocated 9.25 trillion litres of water each year. In 1944, a treaty was introduced to guarantee 1.85 trillion litres to Mexico.

Despite all these management agreements, problems over the river’s resources have arisen, because:

  • River was commited to deliver 20.35 trillion litres per year, but only brought about 17.25 trillion litres anually
  • Evaporation from lakes has remove 2.5 trillion litres, and even less during periods of drought
  • Demand for water has increased, due to population growth and more irrigation for farmland.

Environmental problems:

  • Alluvium becomes trapped behind dams (eg. Hoover Dam), damaging the delta and wetland ecosystem at the mouth of the Colorado river
  • Salinity has increased in the lower basin, altering the ecosystem
  • Reduction in the population of fish, shrimps and sea mammals

Resource management strategies:

  • Reducing leakage from broken pipes
  • Use of grey water in domestic homes
  • Domestic conservation
  • Improving irrigation (using drip irrigation) or growing crops with a lower demand for water
  • Extraction water from ground water supplies
  • Desalinisation of water from the Pacific ocean

(Information from: Greenfieldgeography)

China: Three Gorges Dam

The Three Gorges Dam is located near Yichang on the Yangtse River in China. It is approximately 180 m high and 2.3 km wide and has taken almost 17 years to construct.

The dam has protected 10 million people from flooding and its 32 generators provide energy for 60 million people (each generagtor produces as much energy as a small nuclear powerplant), enabling China to reduce its dependency on coal. It also allows shipping above the Three Gorges and has 6-folded the water traffic capacity. Also, the dam has created many jobs.

File:TGDModelSpillwayView.jpg

 Model of the Three Gorges Dam

However, the dam meant that 1 million people had to be moved to accomodate the reservoir and power stations. The Three Gorges Dam also interferes with aquatic life, being a major threat to the White Flag Dolphin, which is already at risk from extinction. Furthermore, the large masses of silt transported by the Yangtse deposit behind the dam, which reduces the storage capacity of the reservoir. Besides, the dam lies on a fault line and could be badly affected by an earthquake.

Central European floods 2013

Cause:

Extreme flooding in Europe began after heavy rainfall in May and early June 2013. Precipitation at the northern rim of the Alps exceeded 300mm over four days. This, along with an already high soil moisture from the wet spring weather, gave rise to severe flood discharges in the Danube and Elbe rivers. Many dykes failed due to the pressure from the water masses, worsening the situation. Flash flooding was recorded in Warsaw as a result of a heavy thunderstorm.

Effects:

25 fatalities have been recorded due to the 2013 floods. Thousands of people were evacuated in Germany, the Czech Republic and Austria. The total devastation amounted to 12billion €, with crop losses acounting for 1billion € worth of damage.  River traffic was blocked for several weeks and many railway lines were closed due to flood damage and landslides.

File:Povodně v Praze, 30.jpg

By Honza Groh (Jagro) (Own work) CC BY-SA 3.0

Responses:

Short-term responses included search and rescue efforts and emergency evacuations. Members of the Red Cross built shelter camps for displaced residents. Military soldiers established sand bag walls to control the Elbe and Danube rivers and protect buildings in areas such as Dresden and Passau. In some rural regions, levees were destroyed to allow the water to escape onto flood plains and prevent uncontrolled damage downstream.

The governments of Germany, Austria and the Czech Republik are investigating into longterm measures to reduce the aftermath of future floods. Suggestions include reducing construction activities on flood plains and creating spillways to divert part of the flow in case of high discharge. Some dykes will be raised and stabilised to protect particularly vulnerable regions.

2011 East African Drought

Cause:

The 2011 drought in Ethiopia,Djibouti, Kenya and Somalia was caused by the La Nina phenomenon, an ocean current in the Pacific which increased the intensity of westerly winds in the Indian ocean, pulling moisture away from East Africa and towards Australia and Indonesia.

File:FEWS Eastern Africa July-September projection.png

Effects:

  • Most crops failed and 60% of cattle perished due to a lack of water
  • Severe food crisis: lots of people suffer from starvation or malnourishment
  • Thousands fled to refugee camps in hope of food aid from other countries, but many people died of starvation or disease en route

India: Thar Desert, Rajastan

Climate:

The Thar Desert is dry as hot air rises at the equator and cools. The moistureholding capacity decreases; it rains. As the air moves away from the equator by advection, it cools and sinks at the tropics (where the desert is located). The sinking air warms up and its moisture-holding capacity increases, so the area is very dry. With the low humidity, there are few clouds to reflect the sunlight and as there is no evaporative cooling, most of the sunlight warms the ground surface, creating hot temperatures.

Vegetation:

Low precipitation and temperatures of up to 53°C result in scattered vegetation that has adapted to the extreme conditions. For instance, the Ber tree has a rapidly developing taproot system to survive in drought conditions. However, exept for a few trees, the desert is home to thorny bushes and shrubs. These have spiky leaves to reduce rates of evapotranspiration. Xerophilious grass has a small surface area to reduce water loss. Some species als remain dormant during long dry spells.

Threats:

The Thar Desert is threatened by excessive irrigation which leads to salinization. Therefore plants can not take up water from th soil, as the soil has greater concentrations of solute than the roots. Soil quality is also decreasing as manure is used as an alternative fuel for firewood rather than to sustain nutrient-rich, fertile soils. Furthermore, population pressure results in overcultivation and overgrazing, especially around cities like Jodhpur and Jaisalmer, damaging the natural vegetation. The desert environment is also threatened by tourist attractions such as dune bashing. The toyotarisation disturbs animals, kills vegetation and creates dust stroms. Also, tourists may dump waste in the desert, poisoning flora and fauna.

Tropical Rainforest in Borneo

Borneo has experienced the fastest tropical rainforest clearance in the world. While 94 % of the island’s land was covered by forest in 1950, less than half of it remains today (44.5% in 2010).

The rainforest has been cleared for the following reasons:

  • to boost Malaysia’s economy by exporting timber for furniture and paper production
  • population pressure: Indonesia’s transmigration programme caused people to move from overcrowded islands as Java to relatively sparsely populated areas as Kalimantan
  • to build palm oil plantations
  • HEP: forest clearance to provide space for a reservoir in Sarawak (Malaysian Borneo)
  • coal mining in Kalimantan

File:BorneoRainforest DSC 9267.JPG

By T. R. Shankar Raman (Own work) CC BY-SA 4.0

Effects of clearance:

  • atmospheric pollution – burning of forest releases enermous masses of ash and smoke
  • global warming due to the release of Co2 from burning forests and reduction in carbon sink (as burnt trees do not absorb CO2 by photosynthesis)
  • loss of biodiversity: loss of plant species through deforestation
  • destruction of habitat: some species (eg. orang-utans) are unprotected due to lower forest cover
  • loss of soil fertiliy: soil degration due to soil erosion and leaching

Management strategies:

  • Afforestation/reforestation and selective logging
  • Promoting rainforests as destinations for ecotourism, enabling the undisturbed environment to create a source of income for local people without it being damaged or destroyed
  • World-wide initiatives including debt-for-nature swaps: debt relief for retaining rainforests

Tourism in Lanzarote

With more than 2 million visitors annually,  tourism represents the major pillar of Lanzarote’s economy

Main attractions: IMAG0811

  • Climate: average water temperature of 20°C, and average air temperature of 21°C, very little rainfall and 8.5 hours of sunshine each day
  • Numerous luxury and package hotels on beaches eg. Playa Blanca
  • Jameos del Agua: an underground lagoon in a lava tube
  • Timanfaya National Park
  • El Golfo: an emerald green lake situated at the base of a crater on the west coast of the island
  • Cueva de los Verdes
  • Cactus Garden by Cesar Manrique

Benefits:

  • Since the 1980’s , package holidays have created a source of income to promote the development of basic infrastructures, such as the extension of the airport runway to allow for international flights
  • Employment opportunities in tourist industries eg. hotels, gastronomy, transport, tour guides

Disadvantages:

  • Import leakage to fulfil tourist demands such as food, because only few types of vegetation can thrive on Lanzarote’s arid, volcanic soils

 Ecotourism in Belize

With 245 000 tourists annually, in 2007, over 25% of all jobs were in tourism, which made up over 18% of Belize’s GDP.

Primary and secondary attractions:

  • Mangrove swamps
  • Wetlands
  • Savannah
  • Mountain pine forests and tropical rainforests
  • Coral reef
  • Archaeological sites eg. Mayan civilization
  • Wildlife reserves eg. Coxcomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary

How tourist demands are managed:

  • Belize Tourist board, Ministry of Tourism and private sector
  • Community Baboon Sanctuary to preserve forest habitat and howler monkeys: sustainable farming to increase yield and services for tourists

Problems/Threats:

  • Waste dumping and financial leakage due to cruise tourism
  • Overfishing
  • Coral damage and eutrophication of freshwater from fertilizer runoff

Aims:

  • conserve world heritage site of barrier reef
  • increase knowledge of country’s ecosystems through training programmes
  • reduce concentration of tourists in specific areas
  • support planning and development of a buffer zone
  • stricter regulations on cruise ships to reduce waste dumping
  • persuade cruise tourists to spend more time on land

Maldives: Tourism as a development strategy

The Maldives are located south-west of India in the Indian ocean and consist of more than 1000 islands.

Tourism accounts for 28% of the Maldives’ GDP and more than 60% of its foreign exchange receipts.

File:Maldives - Location Map (2013) - MDV - UNOCHA.svg
Source: OCHA/ReliefWeb

Natural attractions:

  • sea-sun-sand combination
  • climate
  • coral

Man-made attractions:

  • luxury resorts and suites eg. Taj Exotica Resort and Spa on South Male Atoll
  • Grand Friday Mosque in Male attracts religious tourists

How tourist demands are managed:

  • Water provided by desalination of sea water
  • Energy produced by generators
  • Waste dumped in landfill sites or sea (this problem is addressed by the compulsory installation of incinerators, bottle crushers and compactors in all resorts)

Problems/Threats:

  • Import leakage due to poor agricultural potential and no economic minerals
  • External shocks: sea-level rise, tsunamis, terrorism, etc.
  • Depletion of natural resources and climate change

How tourism in damaging the natural environment:

On the Maldives, tropical coconut palms are destroyed for building hotels. Consequently, the ecosystem is threatened as food chains are destroyed or disrupted. For example, lizards loose their natural habitat. Animals are also scared away by traffic. Besides, a ferry from Male every 10 minutes pollutes the seas, threatening the corals. The reefs are also destroyed as tourists take samples home and leave litter on the beaches that may kill reef fish. The atmosphere is polluted by the incineration of waste.

Aims:

  • Encourage linkage between tourism and other sectors as construction, manufacturing and transport (multiplier effect)
  • Encourage foreign investment in the development of new resorts
  • Increase employment
  • Encourage solar and wind power

Global warming management: Maldives

The Maldives are located in the Indian Ocean, only 1,5 m above sea level on average, with 80% percent of the land below 1m.

File:Bolifushi.jpg

By Giorgio Montersino on Flickr Licence: CC-BY-SA-2.0

Global warming is a substantial threat to the Maldives, as an increase in temperatures leads to the melting of icebergs, causing sea level rise that may submerge the island group.

The Maldivian Government has built a 3m high sea wall that surrounds the island of Male, to protect it from flooding and preserve its beaches. The sea wall was funded by the Japanese government.

Also, the Maldives plan to be a carbon neutral country by 2019. In other words, they try to avoid adding Co2 to the atmosphere, as carbon dioxide is considered to be responsible for global warming. This should be accomplished by encouraging the development of solar and wind energy.

Fuelwood in Mali:

In Mali, large amounts of fuelwood are used for cooking and heating, especially in rural areas, where electricity networks have not been developed.File:Mali firewood.jpg

Image from: Flickr by M Poudyal on 6. April 2007

Problems:

For local people: The large-scale deforestation that is required to  supply for sufficient energy is problematic, as this energy source is likely to run out if not enough trees will be planted. Besides, deforestation requires people to travel farther to collect enough fuelwood. Deforestation also exposes the soil (as trees cannot trap it) so soil erosion is likely to occur. Furthermore, the burning of fuelwood releases toxic gases which may be trapped in the houses, causing breathing problems or even carbon monoxide poisoning.

Environmental: The widespread deforestation has reduced the humidity of the already dry region, as less plants release water by evapotranspiration.  Also, less roots are anchored in the soil, so the soil is more likely to be eroded. Furthermore, soil salinization is increased, as the cut-down trees no longer provide shade for the soil and the hot temperatures-caused by the desert climate of the Sahel- draw water out of the soil. As an increased soil concentration is poisonous to a large variety of plant species, the natural vegetation will be less likely to grow, and crop cultivation may be hampered.

Two other case studies on fuelwood:

http://geography-student.blogspot.de/2012/06/fuelwood-issues-with-usage-possiblities.html

Geothermal energy in Iceland:

Iceland is located along the Mid-Atlantic ridge, a divergent boundary where heat from the core of the Earth rises to the surface. The energy produced from this heat equates to around 30% of Iceland’s electricity production.

Cold water is pumped down to the igneous rock layers, where it is heated by contact with the hot rocks. The hot water is then piped up and the heat energy is converted to electricity.

File:NesjavellirPowerPlant edit2.jpg

Positive aspects:

  • emission-free
  • sustainable and potentially infinite
  • 3/4 of the population live near geothermal sources (in the south-west of Iceland, near Reykjavik)

Negative aspects:

  • high cost
  • obstruction that consumes land
  • visual pollution
  • regional limitations
  • may release dangerous underground gases

(More information on: http://www.markedbyteachers.com/gcse/geography/iceland-geothermal-energy-case-study.html)

Solar power in India

India is particularly suitable for solar power due its large mass of land and its tropical location. Besides, solar power is considered a successful means to address India’s development problems.

Advantages of solar power:

  • safe and pollution-free
  • great potential in rural areas that are isolated from the national electricity grids eg. Dharnai village
  • can be used effectively for low power uses as central heating

Disadvantages of solar power

  • ineffective in high latitude countries and cloudy areas
  • high initial capital input
  • less effective for high output uses

Future plans:

Wind energy in Germany

Around 9% of the energy produced in Germany comes from wind turbines located both on shore and off-shore (in the North Sea and Baltic Sea).

Windturbine

Wind farms have been built in Germany starting from the 1990s, when awareness of Co2 as a contributing factor to global warming increased.

Primarily, the government fostered the production of onshore wind energy, as technical challenges prevented off-shore farms. The onshore farms were recognised as a cheap form of renewable energy, which does not contribute to air pollution, global warming or acid rain. On the other hand, people did not want to live near wind farms, as these were considered a form of visual pollution.

This issue was resolved by the development of off-shore farms, which are also more productive as there is more wind out at sea. However, the required network capacities for transmitting the power generated in the North Sea to the large industrial consumers in southern Germany have not yet been constructed.

 

Plantation: Rubber farming in Malaysia

Plantations are large farms producing a single cash crop (monoculture).

Inputs:

  • tropical climate (21-28°C,  around 2000mm rainfall)
  • Chinese and Indian labour imported to increase labour force
  • nevea tree
  • location: lower mountain slopes forming the backbone of Malay peninsula; near railway lines and main port

File:Rubbertree malaysia.jpg

Process:

  1. Planting in germination beds
  2. Tapping 5-7 years after planting to collect latex
  3. Latex is coagulated using acid
  4. Raw rubber washed and rolled to remove acid ad moisture
  5. Rubber is dried and smoked for stabilisation

Outputs:

  • Rubber

Extensive commercial farming: Canadian prairies

Extensive farming in the Canadian Prairies because of:
  • deep, fertile Chernozem soils
  • large expanse of flat land (nearly 2 million square kilometres) to grow wide variety of cereals such as wheat, oats etc. in the provinces of Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan
  • able to use large machinery for harvesting
  • below zero temperatures in winter break up soil to allow ease of ploughing
  • good railway link to Great Lakes allowing export of cereal crops

Human inputs:

There is a very heavy reliance on machinery for ploughing, planting, spraying the crop and harvesting. A large proportion of expenditure goes toward machinery, chemicals and other equipment. Most of the work can be handled by just a few workers using machines such as combine harvesters and harrows. One or two extra helpers may be hired during planting or harvest time.

from: http://www.geoforcxc.com/economic-activities/wheat-farming-in-canada/

Intensive farming: Rice cultivation in Ganges Valley

Inputs:

  • Rice seeds
  • Alluvial (silt) soils
  • Large labour force
  • Temperatures: >21°C
  • Monsoon rainfall and dry spells
  • Water buffaloes for ploughingReis, Reis Anpflanzen, Usd

Processes:

  • Ploughing
  • Planting
  • Harvesting
  • Threshing
  • Weeding

Outputs:

  • Rice
  • Rice seeds
  • Bufallo manure for fertilising

Problems:

  • Weather conditions such as flooding or drought may threaten rice yields
  • Monopoly of land: best farmland is owned by few wealthy people, other land owners struggle to cultivate rice in more difficult conditions, especially as they do not have the technology to increase soil fertility
  • Little use of machinery and modern methods
  • Food shortages: Overpopulation results in overcultivation on flood plains, leading to soil exhaustion and lower yields

Information from: http://geographyfieldwork.com/RiceFarm.htm

Pastoral farming in New Zealand

New Zealand is well known for its agricultural output from sheep farming and dairy farming.

Sheep farming inputs:

  • Sheep were brought to New Zealand in the 1800s by British sailors. Initially, the sheep had few natural enemies, so their numbers increased rapidly.
  • The sheep are also well adapted to the mild climate and the rich pasture, particularly on the mountainous slopes of South Island.

Processes:

Free stock photo of man, agriculture, farm, farmer

  • Feeding
  • Shearing to obtain wool
  • Milking

Sheep farming outputs:

  • Meat: beaf and veel
  • Wool
  • Milk
  • Sheep manure for fertilizing

Dairy farming inputs:

  • Cow breeds
  • Mild climate with high rates of precipitation
  • Alluvial and volcanic soils on the flat planes of New Zealand
  • Special facilities including water troughs, fencing, milking machines and cowshedFree stock photo of animal, countryside, agriculture, farm
  • Labour

Dairy farming processes:

  • Grazing
  • Milking
  • Drenching
  • Calving

Dairy farming outputs:

  • Milk
  • Calves
  • Meat

Subsistence farming: Shifting cultivation in Amazon Rainforest, Brazil

Shifting cultivation is an agricultural practice in which areas of land are cultivated temporarily and abandoned as they become infertile. This allows the land to revert to its natural vegetation and is a sustainable farming technique. Shifting cultivation is mainly practised by indigineous tribes.

 

Food shortages in South Sudan

In South Sudan, nearly 4 million people are severely affected by food shortages.

Causes:

  • Drought: Long-term decline in rainfall in southern Sudan (by 20% since 1970s)
  • High population growth (4% in 2013) increases demand for food, so unsustainable farming practices such as overgrazing and overcultivation are used, resulting in land degradation and soil erosion
  • Reliance on food imports from neighbouring countries: Uganda, Kenya and Sudan
  • Civil war between government and rebel forces disrupts planting and harvesting and insecurity along transport routes has hampered the delivery of food and other humanitarian supplies

Soil erosion in Nepal

25% of Nepalese forest was removed between 1990 and 2005 and this trend continues at a rate of 3% per year.

Causes of land degradation in Nepal:

  • Deforestation for fuelwood exposes soil to heavy monsoon rainfalls as there will be less vegetation to protect it, causing it to be washed away by extreme surface runoff. Besides, soil is not held together by tree roots, so it can be eroded by icewater runoff from melting glaciers.
  • Soil dries out in areas of low rainfall and strong winds can then remove the loose particles
  • Agricultural mismanagemnet: poor farming practises such as overcultivation and overgrazing (which deplete the soil’s nutrients) damage the ground vegetation and result in the compaction of topsoil
  • Soil pollution through excessive use of persticides poisons bacteria and fungi and thereby disrupts symbiotic relationships
File:Wind erosion Kalopani Nepal.jpg
Nepalese slopes, by Till Niermann CC BY-SA 3.0

Solutions:

  • Crop rotation prevents depletion of nutrients and replenishes soil fertility
  • Contour ploughing rather than ploughing up and down the slopes to prevent rapid run-off, gully formation and loss of soil
  • Fuelwood conservation: replacing trees where deforestation has taken place or is going to occur
  • Environmental education: restrict tourist visits and demand larger fee for use of heating and cooking facilities; environmental education in schools

Transport risks and benefits: Expansion of Heathrow

Discussions about an expansion of Heathrow Airport, Europe`s busiest airport by passenger traffic, arose in 2006, and still, no final decision has been made, as supporters and opposition have been arguing about the benefits and disadvantages for 10 years.

File:Heathrow T5.jpg
Heathrow Airport: By Warren Rohner (Flickr) CC BY-Sa 2.0

Benefits of an expansion:

  • Enhancing economic growth in the UK: Heathrow functions as a major transport hub for both business travellers and tourists, transporting around 70 million passengers annually
  • Benefits for financial services industry in London and other independent firms eg. inflight catering, security services
  • Better connectivity to other international cities, as more destinations can be scheduled
  • Waiting times would be reduced as the airport operates at a lower capacity
  • Construction provides up to 100,000 jobs

Disadvantages of an expansion:

  • Increase in emission of greenhouse gases from additional flights
  • Community destruction: removal of 4000 houses to make space for a runway
  • Increased noise and air pollution in West London due to an increase in flights: roaring airplane engines and their exhaust fumes
  • Impact on wildlife

High technology industry: Cambridge Science Park

Cambridge Science Park is a Europe’s largest centre for commercial research and development. It is located near Cambridge in the United Kindom, as Cambridge University provides a large supply of expert labour and allows for the sharing of technology. Besides, a large plot of land (152 acres/61.5 hectares) had been available for a low cost, as the facility is located outside of the urban area around London. Nevertheless, good transport facilities exist, including the M11 motorway link to London for the export of finished products and London Stansted International Airport which allows for worldwide trade.

Manufacturing industry: Pakistan’s Iron and Steel Industry

Location:

  • flat, cheap land available at Pipri, near Gharo Creek
  • near Port Qasim, which has a natural harbour to import raw materials and export steel
  • close to market: steel-using industries in Karachi, such as tool making
  • energy source from Pipri thermal power station and Karachi nuclear power station
  • availability of cheap labour from Karachi
  • along a railway: Karachi-Pipri-Kotri and metalled roads
  • economic assistance from USSR: technical expertise and capital
  • water required for making steel brought from Lake Haleji

Inputs:

  • iron ore
  • coke
  • limestone
  • scrap iron

Processes:

  • heating of ore to separate iron
  • burning coke
  • rolling into sheets and cutting into lenghts

Outputs:

  • cast iron and pig iron
  • slag
  • gases: sulfur dioxide, carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, hydrogen sulfide

Problems:

  • noise pollution from machinery disturbs wildlife
  • visual pollution due to large, ugly factory buildings
  • air pollution from burning iron ore, which releases carbon dioxide
  • water pollution from contaminated cooling water, scrubber effluent and ships supplying raw materials
  • depletion of freshwater supplies due to excessive requirement of water in production
  • risk of fire and explosions

MNC: MC Donald’s

MC Donald’s is a company at the forefront of globalisation, with more than 35,000 outlets in 121 countries world wide. Founded in the United States in 1940, the company began as a barbecue restaurant operated by Richard and Maurice McDonald. Mc Donald’s employes nearly 2 million people to sell fast food.

Benefits:

  • Each new store that is build creates jobs (eg. opening of Mc Donalds at Kennedybrücke in Vienna created 30 new jobs)
  • Mc Donalds is involved in youth sports, local charities, and other inspiring events by donating via its charities.

Disadvantages:

  • Salaries vary per country, and are generally low
  • Sometimes considered to have poor working conditions

 

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