Analysis of Latin America’s Ecosystem Development
Latin America is a region located in the Southern part of the United States River in the north and Antarctica in the south. The region stretches from the southern tip of South America to the northern border of Mexico The region extends over 850 of latitude and 820 of longitude (Veblen, Young, & Orme,2007). The region is divided into several sub-regions based on politics, geography, culture, and demographics. The major geographical subdivisions include North America, the Caribbean, Central America, and South America. South America is further divided into politico-geographical regions such as the Guianas, the Southern Cone, and the Andean States (Jacobs, LeVasseur, & Pearson, 2005). The region may also be subdivided based on linguistic and the divisions include Portuguese America, French America, and Hispanic America.
Latin America is composed of 38 countries and several dependencies spread on an area of approximately 20 million square meters hence making around 15% of the earth’s land (Veblen, Young, & Orme,2007). The region has a population of 618 million people distributed mainly in “rimland” and highlands regions. Portuguese and Spanish are the predominant languages spoken in the region. Nearly 60% of the Latin Americans regard Spanish as their first language with different dialects of the language spoken in each country. 34% of the region’s population speaks Portuguese (Veblen, Young, & Orme,2007). 6% of the population speaks different native languages such as Quechua, Haitian-creole, and Guarani. Latin America is 78% Urban (Veblen, Young, & Orme,2007).
Latin America has a unique climate that its regions shares. One of the factors that define the climate of the region is the two oceans that bounds the region; the Pacific Ocean on the west and Atlantic on the east. Pat of the region is also located in the equatorial region. Due to the exposure to several factors that determines the climate of a region, Latin America experiences a great climatic and biotic diversity within the region and even within some countries. The major climatic conditions in the region include Tropical rain forest, Humid subtropical, Mediterranean, Tropical savanna, Steppe, Prairie, and Desert. The region also experiences a great variance in elevation which also contributes to the great diversity in its climate. The region, thus, supports various agricultural activities (Veblen, Young, & Orme,2007). The oceanic environment also supports other economic activities such as fishing, tourism, and mining.
Considering the physical geography, Latin America has the most diverse and unique physical geographic feature ranging from mountains to valleys to oceans and to forests. For instance, the region has the largest and the second largest highest mountain ranges as well as the world’s highest volcanic active mountain (Veblen, Young, & Orme,2007). The region also has the driest desert, the world’s biggest river, the largest rainforest in the world – the greatest storehouse of species. Latin America also has the greatest reserve of potential agricultural land. Finally, the region has the greatest storehouse of the mineral reserve with huge production potential.
The current situation of the physical geography of Latin America is not a perfect resemblance to the initial one. There are several human activities that have changed the natural environment hence creating a disturbance in the ecosystem. Most of these activities are oriented towards improving the lives of people for instance by improving the food production or enhancing trade (Veblen, Young, & Orme,2007). The activities include farming, mining, fishing, settlement and industrialization which has the fundamental impact on the ecosystem.
During the agricultural revolution, Latin America settled on cash crop farming as one of the major economic activity in the region. The effect of agrarian revolution in Europe seemed to have influenced the area and agricultural became the center economic activity in most sub-regions in Latin America. Agricultural revolution increased the production of the food supply across the region. Therefore, the population increases causing a change in the ecosystem. During farming, the natural environment is tampered with while people are trying to create a favorable environment for both crop and animal farming. Forests are cleared to prepare large tracts of land for cash-crop farming such as sugarcane and coffee. Also, the ranches consumed the land in which the natural crops grew (Veblen, Young, & Orme,2007). Deforestation which is even attacking the Amazon forest has affected the ecosystem in several ways from destroying the habitat of different species of animals and plants to affecting the hydrological cycle in the area.
Deforestation leads to the reduction in the amount of rainfall the region is receiving since it destroys forests which facilitates the formation of rain. As a result, the desert areas in the region has been widening. Deforestation also threatens the extinction of some species of animals in the region (Simms, & Reid, 2006).
The industrial revolution that began in Europe around 1750 also had a greater impact on the ecosystem. Industrialization was supported by the population growth, increased economic capital, improved agricultural activities, and the increasing urge for innovation. During the industrialization, too much focus was put on discoveries that people cared less about the effect of the activities on the environment (Simms, & Reid, 2006). More industries were put up to aid production, processing, manufacturing, and service production activities (Oswald et al., 2016). The effect of these industries and machines included degradation of the environment through pollution and depletion of the natural resources. Pollution and depletion of the resources led to the climatic change in the region. Deforestation was witnessed as a result of lumbering. Agricultural activities also increased fivefold during this period due the improved equipment and techniques for production. The forest coverage in the area generally decreased by 20% (Oswald et al., 2016). Mining was also improved leading to the disturbance of the natural reserves of the minerals. The solid waste and gas emission from the industries polluted the environment making the environment unfit for the survival of some species (Oswald et al., 2016). The human use of technology also increased a hundred-fold during the period of industrial revolution leading to depletion of the natural resources as well as pollution.
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