Significant hazards to the environment include deforestation, desertification, and acid rains. The three risks are related regarding nature and magnitude of the problem they cause into the environment. For instance, forestry helps in controlling desertification, and thus global environment is conserved. Humankind actions cause Deforestation, acid, and desertification processes. Desertification, acid rain, and deforestation provide joint results, and in some instances, they are diverse from each other. Causes and geographic patterns of deforestation, desertification, and acid rains will be discussed below.
The forests occupy a quarter of the land area of the world. Tropical type of forest is classified as unsustainable because of challenging landforms and uses of farming and as a huge current environmental issue. Globally, tropical forest is the primary concern because they are dying out at a very high rate. This puts a threat to both economic and environmental purposes that they carry out (Tol 43). In developing countries, deforestation is very new with a decline of tropical forests almost by a quarter.
The following are the causes of deforestation;
- Increase in population, expansion of the agricultural sector and resettlement; people’s activity in forests has resulted in a wood loss and degradation. Agriculture development is the primary cause of deforestation, which is estimated to about forty percent of over eight million hectares of land in a tropical forest. Tol (2009), states that deforestation in the year 1980, it was reported that in Latin America was over thirty-five percent, in Africa seventy-five percent and in South East Asia half (Ahmad & Kassas, 48).
- Grazing and ranching, domestic animals in forests lead to the reduction of regeneration of vegetation through walking on and grazing. Like in India, about twenty percent of the world’s cattle, fifteen percent of its goat and half of its buffalo’s graze in the forests areas. This is caused by the spread of irrigated and cultivated lands in India (Ahmad & Kassas 48).
- Charcoal and fuel-wood; fuel- wood and coal exploitation is mostly a big issue of tropical forests.
- Exploitation of timber; there is increasing demand for timber across the world which has remained a tremendous exploitation as compared to fuel wood.
- Plantation; plantation has been the reason for removal of natural forests. Natural forests have been replaced by plantings of a tropical tree such as oil-palm and eucalyptus because the establishment of a plantation is very high.
- Pollution of the atmosphere; atmospheric pollution has led to deficiencies of nutrients and thus causing the vegetation susceptible to droughts. The development and growth of forests, as well as deforestation, always reflect many variables. Added to the list is the acid rain, which has led to the damage of vegetation. Acid rain is a big problem threatening to the terrestrial environment.
In additions to the above causes, developed countries have not embraced the idea of construction of large dams and checking on climatic irregularities that accelerate further problems to our forests.
Desertification refers to losses of vegetation cover and plant variety that are qualitative in some part to human actions. Desertification can also be defined as degradation of lands in arid and semi-arid areas, which results from various factors such as changes in climate and human activities. Such areas are caused to experience water shortage, low productivity of plants and other biological factors of vegetation. Desertification has become a rising problem in almost all parts of the world, and in particular in the developing countries.
Various factors that cause desertification are discussed below.
- Stable conditions; the nature of the soil regarding decrease depth, organic matter, fertility and crust in compaction can be a good indicator of desertification.
- Vegetation; this can be caused by the reduction in cover, yield and some species failing to reproduce.
- Animals; animals may lead to desertification may be due to the decrease in livestock production, yield, and change in dominant species occurrence and distribution.
- Indicators of social and economic factors; these include changes in land use, settlement outline such as desertion of communities. In additions, change in demographic factors such as migration may also be an indicator of desertification.
Forestry plays a significant role in various developments regarding our environment, one of them being a maintenance of soil and water resources. In additions, if deforestation is reduced, livestock production will improve and thus a remedy to drought and other calamities.
Acid rain occurs because of the incidence of certain impurities in the atmosphere. They can also be caused by burning of fossil fuels into the air. Other causes include; exploding volcanoes, decomposing vegetation, which emit sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide into the atmosphere. Acid rain is also said to have a grave consequence on human health, wildlife, and marine life. Normal rains are at times acidic which is formed from water and carbon dioxide present in the air. The following are the causes of acid rain;
- Natural sources; natural causes are the leading causes of acidic rain during volcanic emissions. Volcanoes release acidic gasses, which have high effects on vegetation, wildlife, and health of residents.
- Human-made activities; activities such as emission gasses such as sulfur and nitrogen contribute to the acidic rains. Others include air pollution caused by factories and power generation industries.
Question 12: Future economic development along the Trans-Siberian railroad
Economic development can be defined by the agricultural development as Russians were able to produce contemptible grains. Later bread was produced from seeds, and many farms changed to corn’s production. The Trans-Siberian railroad is a network of railways that connects Moscow with the Russian Far East. It is estimated to be 9,000 kilometers and thus the longest rail line in the world. This route connects Mongolia, China, and North Korea. The railway was built between the years 1891 and 1916 (Giffin, 1998).Development of this railroad will contribute to an expansion of the agricultural produce since the rail will connect the regions that offer basic requirements for production of agricultural produce. Since this means of transportation connects Russian territories, there has been an increased Russian export up to 30% through this line. The connection had resulted to increased tourists who enjoy the movement from one region to the other as domestic passengers. It is estimated that with the growth of national developments, more visitors are likely to trip into the country, an aspect that will translate to more revenue. With the increase in exports, it is estimated further that more foreign tourists will increase to overtake the annual carriage of the line of up to 200,000 containers (Bergstrant, 1987).
Expansion of the railway line by doubling in volume will develop activities within the terminal at the ports by an influence of 3 to 4. This implies that there would be increased traffic between Russia and China, which will translate to an enhanced economy. With enhanced coordination, more cargo is expected to be transported through the system. Best travel times for the load are expected to be defined by the line movement. Advanced creation of the incompatibility of the broad railway gauge results to compatibility within the Chinese-Russian frontier and the Ukrainian border with the Central European countries (Giffin, 1998).
This connection between the Russian Pacific Ports will allow passengers and freight to connect to further west in Europe. Transfer of passengers, freight, will connect these regions. The fully electrified and double-tracked will transport at least 100 million cargos on an annual basis as well as 200,000 containerized movements on a yearly basis. The presently completed east-west line across Siberia is parallel the Trans-Siberian and expected to carry at least 6 million tons of goods annual (Bergstrant, 1987). The line will be economically useful for transportation of oil and copper ore for exports. The online is expected to be useful in the connection of the regions, which will result in the advanced international trade that connects the Western Pacific with Europe. The link to Asia to Europe via Finland and Sweden will lead to increased international trade, reduced tariffs on freight and thus expansion of the global market. With the expected involvement of the Japanese companies over the Sea route, the line will transport more car parts, to Germany and China and pallet and general cargo from Poland to China within 14 days (Giffin, 1998).
The eastern border that serves the Chinese Eastern Railway will expand its use as well as at least 8 million tons of freight can cross the border at a regular period. The little-known connection between Russia and China at the South will see an expansion of movement of people and goods within the regions. Development of the Kazakhstan border in China will result in an expansion of interior areas of Turkmenistan, and Kyrgyzstan. The Kazakhstan will be significant in the transportation of New Silk Road initiative from Ukraine to China. Within Wuhan, China, transportation authorities will organize regular runs of linear freight train movement between Wuhan and European destinations. This will reduce the cost and speed necessary for the movement of containers regularly between the city pairs per week. Therefore, development of the line is expected to reduce air transport by 2% and thus ease transportation of cargo within the region (Bergstrant, 1987).
The railway would enable movement from China to cross Kazakhstan without having to change bogies, that is otherwise expensive as it involves higher capital cost by requiring retrofitting or replacement of existing bogies. Construction of the Indian and Burma connection with China’s cooperation would link China to the Indian Ocean thus reducing the process of moving goods through shipping to Europe.
Question 14 Describe current environmental problems and social conditions in Armenia
In 1994, in Armenia, a council of ministers came up with three national laws for the environmental protection. They include the necessary, environmental protection and mineral resource laws. However, the programs to work with the rules were not put in place. As a result, environmental problems I Armenia began when Azerbaijan blocked their supplies for electricity to Armenia. The population suffered most as it lacked power. In additions, in Armenia, there is the high rate of tree felling for fuel, particularly during winter seasons. Another environmental crisis is the drop of water level in Lake Sevan’s. This is caused by irrigation and water diversion to hydroelectric industries established to compensate electric power problem. Currently, Armenia environment is up to date as per global standard.
The environmental situation in Armenia became more polluted in the era of the Soviet Union (Naturvernforbundet Para 3). The government in that period sought to expand heavy industry development all through the union, as it ignored environmental challenges caused by the industries. The harm was ignored for too long and significantly contributed to the formation of environmental groups that raised fears over the state of the environment. This awareness resulted in numerous closures of factories that greatly contributed to the environmental pollution, among them being the rubber and chemical plant. There was a rise of national laws that sought to protect the environment and addressed ad hoc basis (Statistical Yearbook of Armenia, 2003).
In 1995, the government tried to offset the energy crisis by activating the nuclear power, which the environmental groups opposed due to the huge environmental threats it posed. Different regions were deforested in 1992 to 1994 as trees became the only available source of fuel. The government is ready to close down the nuclear plant as long as it can acquire another energy production source. However, soil intoxication remains another enormous challenge due to a reckless application of pesticides to increase produce. Therefore, use of the DDT has poised both the land and the rivers in that region (Naturvernforbundet. Para 7). The country for this case is almost entirely dependent on imported energy since the domestic energy resource was hydropower that provides approximately 30% of the energy demands. All natural gas is derived from Russia while an estimated amount of coal reserves lies in the state owned by the coal mine.
Renewable energies are scarce with an absence of water and the wind, which would have easily replaced significant resources in future. Approximately 7% of the land in Armenia has obtained the status of protected areas and strive to protect its biodiversity, ten fauna species that are marked as endangered among others.
Serious climatic effects can be experienced in an environment full of Caucasus and deposition of ice and snow. Climate also has an enormous impact on the climate dependent economy. One significant effect on nature is the landscape zones variation towards higher altitudes like the desert and semi-desert region that will expand by 33%, while the sub-alpine and alpine zone reduce by 20%. The reduction of the river flow, precipitation of the Sevena Lakes areas and habitats of natural carriers of malaria and plague that affects the locals. The region shares its ecosystem and biodiversity with Georgia and Azerbaijan. However, its species are becoming extinct at an alarming rate. The country is also facing dire consequences of the Caucasus range of ice sheet melting and loss of water reserves and biodiversity.
These effects are attributed to lack of important legislative laws that can properly plan and serve the nation by protecting it against emerging climatic challenges. By 1994, there were only three environmental laws: the Basic Law, the Law on Protection of the environment, as well as on Mineral Resources. These laws have had significant challenges in protecting the environment and making the decision that can be applied as environmental policies (Naturvernforbundet. Para 11).
Therefore the present situation of Armenia can be defined as poor due to several aspects, namely: The soil is presently acidic due to deposition through precipitation. This has disrupted ecosystem nutrient flows and has destroyed freshwater fish and plants dependent on more neutral or alkaline conditions. This rain is characterized by harmful levels of sulfur and nitrogen dioxide. The values are presently less than 5.2. Much of the fog is a collection of airborne particles dispersed in a gas. Afforestation is also taking place although at a very slow pace. The Armenia Tree Project (ATP) was initiated in 1994 with an objective of enhancing the nation’s socioeconomic development. Additionally, the entity was used as a substance to assemble resources to support greenery renewal and replanting programs. ATP undertakings are aimed at enhancing self-sufficiency, preservation of Armenia’s natural ecology, addressing the deforestation rate, reinstate the ruined and lost forest regions, improve the living standard of the Armenian population, and safeguard the environment. The entities original tree planting project commenced in early 1994 at the Nork Senior Center. Afterward, ATP has planted and reinstated more than 531,000 trees in more than 500 public locations. By 2006, ATPs initiatives will have the capability to yield and plant more than a million trees per year. ATPs final objective is to grow more than 15 million trees in the entire Armenian nation by the year 2015. In 2005 the country’s economy grew by 10.2% in a period of six months, this is about the Republic of Armenia Ministry of Trade and Economic Development. Simultaneously, the World Wildlife Fund and Conservation International report showed that Armenia’s environment has been degrading for the previous 15 years (Statistical Yearbook of Armenia, 2003).
Currently, only 10% of the Armenian nation is covered with forests. The feeling of hundreds of thousands of trees that began in the 1990s is till on today (USAID, 2004). The trees are used for commercial purposes and the populations as a source of energy as a result of no other fuel resource. Trees are necessary for life. They provide coolant shades, have medicinal value, purifies the air, and are sources of fresh water. Additionally, trees are also vital because they support agricultural output, wildlife, and the famous fruit growing that is a significant component of the nation’s economy.
In conclusion, the energy crisis in the 19th century has negatively contributed to the present state in numerous ways. There is increased deforestation rate, which has caused the main environmental problems and continues being a severe ecological threat. At least 750,000 cubic meters of forest coverage are cut annually, a rate that will contribute to the land becoming a barren desert in the coming 50 years. These results are a cause of different problems and are expected to worsen if measures are not taken to address the present condition. In the future, land attrition and avalanches will be standard besides the soil losing its agricultural abilities. Most of the populations will have to endure the energy crisis and come up with other sources of energy thereby decreasing the risk of the deforestation.
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