1 Global geographical issues include: Ecological Sustainability · climate change· energy use· land degradation· use of ocean resources· urbanisation· human rights· indigenous people and self-determination
2 Why is Ecological Sustainability Important? Environmental CrisisEcological sustainability means that the needs of the present population can be met without endangering the ability of future generations to meet their needs.There is growing concern about the way in which humans are using the world's resources. Many conservationists believe that we will not be able to continue using our physical environment in the ways that we have in the past.
3 This environmental crisis is a result of the limited amount of resources that the Earth contains and the rate at which they are being used or destroyed. For example: · Fish in all of the world's major Fisheries are being caught faster than they can be replaced more than 70 per cent of the world's drylands are degraded · clearing of tropical rainforests has reduced the area of the Earth that they cover by half.Biodiversity and ecological sustainability are closely linked. Much biodiversity is being lost through the destruction of ecosystems and the natural habitats of plants and animals.
4 The Great DivisionThe crisis is even more complex when we consider the following facts: 20 per cent of the world's population lives in developed or rich countries and they consume about 80 per cent of the world's resources; the 80 per cent who live in the developing or poor countries consume only about 20 per cent of the world's resources.Many of the resources that are consumed in developed countries come from developing countries. For example, nearly all of the timber produced in developing countries.
5 Living StandardsAs well as the concerns about the environment, many people are also concerned about living standards throughout the world. Living standards are judged according to the amount of goods and services, such as food, shelter and education, available in the community per head of population.There are concerns that we should at least be able to maintain existing living standards in the world and make real progress towards improving the living standards of the world's poor people.The world's population is now at six billion and is growing at a rate of almost 100 million per year.Currently around one-fifth of the world's people live in very poor conditions, without enough food, clothing and shelter. They don't even have safe drinking water. They are always facing the threat of an outbreak of disease or famine, or both.These people are the global underclass or the global poor. Within this underclass some groups are worse off than others, in particular women, children and indigenous people.Across the globe many people are denied their human rights. Human rights are based on the idea that all human beings are equal and deserve fair treatment.
6 What is Sustainable Development? Ecologically sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present population without endangering the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.This means using the world's resources in ways that ensure the resources will still be around to meet the needs of people in the future. It also means trying to ensure that the living standards of present generations, particularly the world's poor, are improved.
7 Climate ChangeClimate change is a global geographical issue that has caused great concern since the early 1980s. Climate change is not new.There has been considerable evidence of climate change for thousands of years, with colder periods (glacials) mixed with warmer periods (interglacials). There has also been variation in precipitation.During the twentieth century, the atmosphere warmed up by about 0.5° Celsius, a trend that is expected to continue.There is growing evidence that the Earth's climate is now becoming warmer through the action of humans. Air pollution is producing gases that are trapping the sun's heat in our atmosphere.
8 The Greenhouse EffectThe greenhouse effect is a natural process. The gases in the Earth's atmosphere act like the glass of a greenhouse, trapping the sun's warmth. Without the atmosphere, the Earth's surface would be about 15° Celsius cooler than it is.Water vapour and gases such as carbon dioxide and methane in the atmosphere are responsible for the greenhouse effect. These greenhouse gases make up only a small proportion of the atmosphere, so any variation in their amounts could have a critical effect on the Earth's temperature.This greenhouse effect has kept the Earth's temperature fairly constant for a very long time. The enhanced greenhouse effect is the increased ability of the Earth's atmosphere to trap heat.When the edge of an ice shelf melts, large pieces of ice break away from the main mass.
9 The Greenhouse Effect There are: · more heatwaves and droughts, causing more bushfires· higher tides and more violent storms· wider variation in rainfall and snow· increased growth rates of some plants because of higher temperatures and more carbon dioxide for photosynthesis. This may improve crop growth; however, with less rain it may not make a difference.· the possible extinction of many plants and animals as their habitat changes. For example, animals in mountain lands that rely on cold temperatures may find conditions are too warm for their survival.· the possibility of bacteria and fungi growing faster in warmer climates, increasing the risk of diseases.· increased risk to humans from heat stress and rising pollution levels in cities.
10 EmissionsThere have been several international conferences to address global warming and its possible serious consequences, such as climate change and rising sea levels. At the Kyoto Conference in 1997, many nations agreed to take steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.However, we can all help to slow global warming. Something as simple as using less electricity or hot water, or walking instead of driving will use less fossil fuel. This will reduce the amount of carbon dioxide you put into the air. Planting a tree will help remove carbon dioxide from the air. Plants take carbon dioxide from the air in photosynthesis.
11 Energy Use Fossil Fuels Will our energy sources ever run out? The bulk of the energy we use comes from fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas. We burn these fuels in power stations to make electricity, and to power cars and other transport.This reliance on fossil fuels creates two major problems. Firstly, these energy sources are non-renewable. Much of the easily accessible oil will be gone in 50 years and coal will be scarce in 200 years. secondly, and perhaps more critically, burning these fossil fuels releases gases into the atmosphere that are responsible for global warming.Alternate Energy SourcesAs fossil fuels won't last forever and because their use contributes alarmingly to globalwarming, we need to develop alternative ways to harness the energy that is all around us. Many of these `alternative' sources of energy are non-polluting and readily available. All of these methods of generation already exist, either in small experimental power stations or in full-scale production
12 Land DegradationLand degradation is the decline in the quality of the land. Land degradation means that the land is less able to produce crops, feed animals or renew its natural vegetation.Land degradation can result from land clearing, agricultural activities, urban and tourist developments, industrial and mining activities, logging, disposal of wastes and theintroduction of feral animals and exotic plants.Erosion, salinity, decreased water quality and decreased biodiversity are some of the issues that result from poor land management. Land degradation has a spatial dimension Ð we can map the extent of land degradation and locate areas with particular problems. It also has an ecological dimension how people interact with the environment has a major impact on the quality of the land.
13 DesertificationMany of the world's deserts are spreading Desertification occurs when agricultural areas on the fringes of deserts change into desert due to unsustainable farming practices.When farmers cultivate land in semi-desert areas, or when fragile drylands are overgrazed, natural vegetation is lost.When droughts occur, winds blow away the topsoil resulting in dust storms and erosion When rain does fall, it can cause large-scale erosion.The obvious way to stop desertification is to reduce unsustainable farming and overgrazing. This would allow the land to return to its natural state, which might be grassland or woodland.However, people who occupy the land are usually reluctant to move unless they have an acceptable alternative.In rich countries, governments can pay farmers not to grow crops and carry out campaigns to encourage soil conservation and tree planting.In Australia for example, the Landcare program promotes reforestation to help control desertification. Poor countries however, such as those in sub-Saharan Africa, are unable to do this without aid from other countries.
14 Use of Ocean ResourcesNearly three-quarters of the Earth's surface is covered by oceans. Fisheries supply almost 20 per cent of the world's protein and fishing provides a living for millions of people around the world. About one-quarter of the world's oil comes from offshorewells drilled into reserves beneath the sea.Humans have also used oceans as a convenient way to dispose of wastes. Many countries have dumped all kinds of pollutants into the oceans, including sewage and nuclear and toxic wastes, without any regard for marine life or the possible long-term effects on the environment.
15 Fishing Modern methods of fishing include: · purse-seine nets close around and trap surfaces swimming fish· trawl nets catch bottom-swimming fish· long-line nets have hooks attached over a large area· driftnets are often operated by many vessels working together. Many sea creatures (such as turtles and dolphins) are drowned by drift netting. Several environmental groups are protesting about this method of fishing.Today world fish stocks are threatened by over- fishing, pollution and the destruction of wetlands.Modern fishing fleets can locate and catch very large numbers of Fish. They can also catch fish from areas deeper in the ocean than ever before.
16 Global ActionOver the last 20 years or so, there have been attempts at a global level to prevent and control the overexploitation of fisheries.The decision to set a 320-kilometre fishing zone around countries was one of the most important outcomes of the United Nations Law of the Sea Conference in This meant that other countries now had to get permission from a country to fish inside that country's zone.Some countries have introduced management schemes within their territorial waters based on quotas. The quota system has been quite successful in reducing over fishing within these areas.International agreements to protect marine life have also resulted in whale sanctuaries in the Indian and Pacific oceans. Many countries have now also agreed to end the dumping of industrial and nuclear wastes into the oceans.
17 UrbanisationDuring the last one hundred years the world's population has grown rapidly. As well as the growth in population, there has been an even more rapid growth in urbanisation. Urbanisation is the process by which the proportion of a country's population in urban areas increases.About half the people of the world now live in cities. There has been extraordinary growth in the development of large cities. The world's largest city, Tokyo, has more people than the entire population of Australia.A major reason for the growth of large cities is rural±urban migration. People move from rural areas to the cities in search of employment and the services and opportunities that cities can offer.City growth is also boosted by natural population increases within cities. This is occurring especially in the poorer countries in the developing world.Poverty, overcrowding, pollution and traffic congestion are serious problems in cities in developing countries. Urban development also often means that valuable agricultural land is lost.
18 The Importance of Human Rights Human rights are based on the idea that all human beings are equal and deserve fair andequal treatment. It is an idea that has taken many centuries to be accepted and there are still some people who do not agree with it. Individual countries over time have developeda range of laws to protect human rights. These laws vary across the globe, not only in their protection of human rights but also in the extent to which they are observed and enforced.A major global breakthrough on human rights took place on 10 December 1948, when the General Assembly of the United Nations (UN) adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This Declaration sets out in a series of articles the basic human rights of all people. Some of the rights set out in the Declaration are as follows.Countries can choose to either ratify or sign international human rights agreements. Those countries that ratify international agreements are bound to observe the provisions of such agreements.Countries that only sign such agreements undertake not to act in any way which is contrary to the aims of the agreement. Types of human rights Human rights can be divided into two main types:· social, economic and cultural rights, which are concerned with the quality of life and having a decent standard of living· civil and political rights, which cover the right to choose how one's country is run and to conduct one's life free from interference.
19 Abuses of Human RightsAbuses of human rights occur around the world. This abuse can take many forms: people may be arrested and held without being charged for any crime, political opponents may `disappear' or be tortured, civilians may be killed or executed, andpolice may treat prisoners with brutality.Each year the worldwide voluntary human rights organisation, Amnesty International, publishes a report on human rights abuses around the world.The 2004 report documented the human rights situation in 155 countries and territories.
20 Indigenous People and Self Determination The Indigenous ExperienceThe Tuareg in the Sahara Desert The Tuareg live in Africa's great Sahara Desert. About Tuareg live a nomadic way of life, moving with their camels, goats and household goods in search of water and pasture. This traditional nomadic existence has limited the pressure on the environment where fertile water and land are scarce. Today, government programs in countries like Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso are taking over much of the Tuareg land, threatening their livelihood.Indigenous people are the descendants of the original people of a country or place. Some examples are Aboriginal Australians, the Sami of northern Europe, the Inuit of northern Canada and the Maoris of New Zealand.Indigenous people have their own culture which usually includes language, religion, social and political organisation and technology.
21 Indigenous People and Self Determination (2) During the expansion of European power across the world from the sixteenth to the early twentieth century and the great migrations associated with it, many indigenous people lost their land and culture through conquest and settlement. This was mainly achieved through the newcomers' superior military technology.For example, the indigenous Indian tribes of North America and the Maoris of New Zealand were no match for Europeans with their guns. Many indigenous people became minority groups. Minority groups are often singled out from other people for different and unequal treatment. They therefore regard themselves as objects of collective discrimination.Self DeterminationOften indigenous groups, if they are concentrated in a particular part of the country, will seek self determination as a way of protecting their human rights.Self-determination is the right of a nation or group of people to form their own government. In Canada, Sweden and the United States there have been movements towards self-determination for indigenous groups.