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202 Chap 3 North America

202 Chap 3 North America - 3 North America Figure 3.1 North...

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3. North America
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Figure 3.1, North America
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North America A cultural, not a natural region (the tectonic plate includes Mexico). Common history and development under the global capitalism fostered most by the second stage European expansions of the 1600s (Holland, France, Britain rather than the first stage expansions by Portugal and Spain) Politically disorganized indigenous inhabitants, fairly easily controlled by much more politically sophisticated arrivals Indigenous inhabitants terribly susceptible to European and African diseases (esp. flu, smallpox, syphilis) Death rates 95% plus in first 100 years of contact Use of African slaves from beginning to replace lost indigenes, but much more restricted than in Latin America because region not suited to sugar
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Fig 3.4: Environmental Issues in North America Unique physical geography, easily settled from Atlantic w/generous coastal plains to east and south. Interior easily accessible from south via Mississippi basin, relatively accessible from east via St Lawrence Settlement from west difficult--only 4 accessible areas (Fraser & Columbia Rivers, San Francisco Bay, LA Basin) only 1 with reasonable topographic access to east (LA Basin) and that over a great desert region that would have been hard to cross
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Sea Level rise over 20K years (NASA) Global sea level rise of c. 120 M following last glaciation. Note that we entered a cooler phase c. 6,000 BP. Current warming trend regarded as serious because seems to be reverting to rate of change c. 10,000 BP
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Potential impact of sea level rise on Florida Map of Florida with 2, 4 & 8 M rise in sea level. Current observed rates indicate c. 1.8 M rise in 100 years. But current climate models (often referred to as the “hockey stick” models) show sudden accelerating change, and many atmospheric scientists believe 4 M quite likely in 100 years (don’t buy land in Miami!)
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Hockey Stick model
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Fig 3.8: Climate Because of its topography, the continental interior of NA is relatively cool in summer & warm in winter. Planetary heat transfer ensures warm, moist air masses from the Gulf of Mexico penetrate as far north as the Canadian Prairie Provinces, allowing these areas to reliably grow grain crops. Cool air masses bring some relief to the humid American sub-tropics in summer.
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Three Costs of Human Modification “Ecological Imperialism:” The replacement of native plants and animals with non-native ones deliberately or accidentally introduced. Soil erosion is one consequence of removing native grasses to allow grain farming. The extinction of once hugely abundant species such as the passenger pigeon and the near extinction of the buffalo are others. Accidental (unpleasant) introductions include fire ants, kudzu, & killer bees Population Growth & Water Water availability and water quality are growing policy issues, especially in drier West. Too much irrigation water comes from aquifers that do not recharge, and too much urban water from aquifers with recharge rates slower than consumption.
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