Assess the view that in wilderness areas, the challenges always outweigh the opportunities.
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Geography: Physical Essay Question - Assess the view that in wilderness areas, the challenges always outweigh the opportunities. Wilderness is an area of land or region, which is in a natural state with minimal human impacts. Severe conditions affect how easily it is to develop the area: this is what makes the area a wilderness. Examples of wildernesses are: Amazon Rainforest, Utah Desert, and Aral Sea. Often wildernesses have resources that humans can take advantage of; however, due to the challenges that the wilderness creates this is difficult. This essay will be looking at the view that the challenges of development outweigh the opportunities that the areas bring, by using the examples of wildernesses above. The tropical rainforest of the Amazon Basin is the largest area of tropical rainforest in the world. The Amazon Forest is being deforested at an ever increasing rate; estimates of the rate of this deforestation vary, but generally it looks like between May 2000 and August 2006, nearly 150,000 square kilometers of forest was destroyed (an area larger than Greece); and since 1970, over 600,000 square kilometers (232,000 square miles) of Amazon rainforest have been destroyed. The destruction of the Amazon can be heavily linked to various natural resources residing within the forest. Extensive areas of the tropical rainforest have been cleared to grow pasture for cattle rearing and to cultivate crops for subsistence and commercial agriculture.
Las Vegas is situated in a semi-desert environment, and is the fastest growing settlement in the USA. Its population has doubled since 1990, to 570,000; and 90 percent of its water comes from the Colorado River. To combat this water crisis the City along with the Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA), proposes to build a 285-mile pipeline to pump groundwater from six valleys in eastern Nevada. When pumping outpaces an area's ability to replenish its water reserves, entire ecological systems slowly wither. Starting in 1913, Los Angeles siphoned water away from Owens Valley, eventually turning a 100-square-mile lake into a dust bowl, and kicking up clouds of cadmium and iron. And in 1998 the United States Geological Survey found that groundwater pumping had lowered the water table in parts of Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas by more than 100 ft. Las Vegas is site that shows that settlements can develop in harsh, dry conditions; however, this does come at a cost. Pumping water to keep this development thriving is extremely damaging to the environment and will only increase the problems in the future. Aral Sea is one of the greatest environmental catastrophes ever recorded. Humans have made use of the waters of the Aral basin for thousands of years, borrowing from its two major rivers: the Amu Darya, which flows into the Aral Sea from the south; and the Syr Darya, which reaches the sea at its northern end.
It is self-evident that wildernesses offer more challenges than opportunities. If that were not the case they would no longer be wildernesses. A transformation through technology has been witnessed in the southwest of the USA where cities such as Las Vegas and Phoenix have grown rapidly in areas that were very lightly inhabited before the 20th century. Air-conditioning and the technology of importing water from other regions have allowed this growth. Whether or not developments such as this are sustainable is another difficult question. These challenges through up difficult situations to try and over come, to develop in places where it shouldn't be possible. The Aral Sea is an example of this were technology allowed humans to change the natural preceding, but affected it so badly that it is even harder to gain benefits and become even more challenging. With wildernesses shrinking as the technology increases and exploits the regions further. BP has made the decision not too drill oil in Alaska due to its stakeholders; ethics have more of a pull on big companies. In the future human kind will invent new technologies and advances in ways of trying to gain the benefits out of the wildernesses; but as this occurs the wildernesses will shrink as human impact increases and developments grow in the untouched locations. However, as government has become more aware of climate change and mankind's affect on the planet this impact may be reduced as they look to preserve the natural environment; or maybe more sinisterly the natural resources contained within.
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