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Frequently asked questions for the final - Geography 4 Fall 2001

Q: We still should study the terms/main points after each chapter?

A: Yes. You will be expected to match terms to their definitions.

Q: Aside from smaller dams, what are alternatives to big dams?

A: It depends on the purpose of the dam.
For those meant to control flooding, look into ways that involve avoiding development of flood prone areas, and decrease the amount of impermeable surfaces in urban areas so the soil can soak up rain before it runs off. Turn floodplains back into prime farmland that receives new fertile sediments everytime it floods. If the dam is meant to produce electricity, look at smaller scale projects that are more sustainable and appropriate for local communities.

Q: I know that alternatives to big dams are micro-hydroprojects that work with things on a smaller scale. But why are they more sustainable and more appropriate technology?

A: Think of this in terms of where the costs come from and where do the benefits of the project go? For a mega-dam project, the local area is flooded and the ecology altered. Most of the benefits of the dam in terms of energy production will go distant cities as they can afford to pay the enormous costs of construction. Small scale projects can be afforded by local communities, and are also appropriate because they don't drastically alter the local ecology or displace local people.
"The main reason for opposition worldwide are the huge numbers of people evicted from their lands and homes to make way for reservoirs. The livelihoods of many millions of people also suffer because of the downstream effects of dams: the loss of fisheries, contaminated water, decreased amounts of water, and a reduction in the fertility of farmlands and forests due to the loss of natural fertilizers and irrigation in seasonal floods. Dams also spread waterborne diseases such as malaria, leishmaniasis and schistosomiasis. Opponents also believe that the benefits of dams have frequently been deliberately exaggerated and that the services they provide could be provided by other more efficient and sustainable means." Questions and answers on the international movement against large dams and
the environmental impacts of large dams.
Most Borneo villages rely on expensive and polluting diesel generators for electricity . . . . The Borneo Project is helping communities install and operate small-scale hydro-generators. Tapping water pressure from local streams, these systems produce clean and inexpensive electricity. This project assists indigenous groups in Borneo to develop renewable rural electrification systems appropriate to the needs and conditions of their communities. Most indigenous villages are too remote for the electricity grid and therefore rely on expensive and polluting diesel generators. . . Recent technology advances now allow a new possibility--generating electricity from nearby streams using equipment so small that no dam blocks the stream . . . This project will produce cheap, clean, reliable, 24-hour-a-day electricity to local communities using a system that can be maintained locally. It is estimated that this system will pay for itself in 24 months and save the combustion of over 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel a year." OUR WORK: Green Energy.

Q: What are the locational patterns of cities as they relate to their function and economic base?

A: Coastal and rivers based cities, and cities located at a crossroads are more likely to engage in trade functions. Cities built on top of cliffs in order to enhance their defensive military function. Ecclesiastical and university towns are often located in idyllic and inspiring settings.

Q: What are the 2 main causes of segregation-Chp.11/5?

A: 1. discrimination 2. voluntary associate and congregation.

Q: Geographers predict future trends by using carry capacity, what else?

A: By studying the established patterns and trends such as distribution of resources, population, economic activity, technological innovation, and infrastructure.

Q: Which aspects of the future that are least predictable because of the unknown possibilities? I know new technologies are, anything more?

A: Geopolitical shifts.

Q: How does the WTO change the role of national and local governments? Does it unite and better communication between nations and local governments?

A: The WTO is a supranational organization that is establishing its supreme authority to defend the right to free trade. Many local and national laws restricting commerce in any way may be construed as an impediment to trade which must be removed. The WTO will only allow national governments to participate in disputes, so local governments lose their ability to communicate local concerns.

Q: Which regions of the world are experiencing the fastest rate of urbanization? and why? Which regions are most urbanized? least?

A: The developing world is the least urbanized, but is currently experiencing the fastest rate of urbanization. As a result, these cities have developed a distinctive urban form and informal economy.

Q: Describe the technologies and innovations of the next economic cycle.

A: examples include- biotechnology, solar, wind, and other renewable forms of energy, the high speed rail, smart cars and roads, internet and other types of information technology - especially technologies of artificial adjacency.

Q: 1) Why is a city's economic base important for its growth prospects?

A: Because the economic base "exports" to places beyond the city to bring money in.

Q: 2) Compare central place theory with the model of urban land-use. Why do both of these urban models assume conditions of an isotropic surface?

A: These models assume an isotropic surface -- a simplified reality -- in order to better focus on the influence of space and distance on people's shopping behavior, or the competition for urban land. Just as a biologist creates clean laboratory conditions for controlled experiments, these models also create controlled conditions in order to focus on one aspect of reality at a time. Each provides a partial view of reality.

Q: 3) Distinguish between suburbanization and gentrification. How has each process changed the cultural geography of the city?

A: Suburbanization is the net outflow of relatively well to city dwellers to the outlying suburbs. Gentrification is the reverse flow of relatively well to do suburbanites resettling the inner city. Each process has resulted in a new urban cultural geography. Suburbanization resulted in a sorting of the population by race, ethnicity, and class. Many wealthy white city residents moved to the suburbs leaving an inner city of greater diversity. Then the reverse flow of gentrification often resulted in the displacement of inner city residents -- now often out to older suburbs!

Q: 4) What is the difference between an enclave and a ghetto?

A: An enclave is generally formed out of voluntary association, whereas a ghetto is generally formed due to discrimination, and may have bad connotations.

Q: I assume that the most urbanized regions of the world are located in the core and the least urbanized are located in the periphery. But in the text, it states that by 1980, 19 out of the 30 largest metropolitan areas are located in the periphery and semiperiphery. Can you help clear my confusion?

A: Yes, the core is the most urbanized and since it already became urbanized, it makes sense that the periphery is urbanizing the fastest. Urbanization in the periphery and semi-periphery is happening much faster than it did in the core. While they haven't reached the overall levels of urbananization of the core yet, they do have many of the biggest cities. This has a lot to do with the tendency towards urban primacy in these developing countries.

Q: Why were early cities so small by our standards today?

A: Early cities had physical limits to growth of large concentrated population centers (hundreds of thousands of people eat and drink a lot) such as an adequate clean water supply, adequate food and other resources, problems with sanitation and disease in crowded conditions. Other limits could be the ability to defend the city (limits of city walls), and most importantly -- transportation/infrastructure -- cars are a lot wider and a lot faster than pedestrians.

Q: How else can cities be designed to be more sustainable with regards to the environment besides passing laws and educating consumers?

A: Probably the best way would be to get urban planners who are trained to understand and appreciate the environmental consequences of urbanization.

Q: Carrying capacity is not meaningful at the national scale because there are inputs from foreign countries, right?

A: Yes, carrying capacity conceptually balances a given population with a given set of resources. One can no longer assume that all the resources of a given country are only utilized by its citizens. Foreign trade allows consumers to tap into resources worldwide. Carrying capacity is therefore more meaningful at the global scale.

Q: What makes an urban area a primate city? Is it because an urban area is the city center and the central of business?

A: Don't confuse primacy with centrality. Primacy refers to the demographic dominance of a city. A primate city is many times the size of all other cities in the same country in terms of population.

Q: Why do the cores of older Islamic cities have such complex street patterns? Compare them to those of American cities.

A: Because they were originally designed around pedestrians, horses, and donkeys as a major source of transportation. Also, cultural aspects of street design to enhance privacy of the home was important. The result is a maze of narrow winding passageways compared with the wide straight streets, boulevards, and highways of the modern American metropolis which was largely built to accommodate the automobile.

Q: Is the isochron the lines that surrounding different area such as city, town, village, and hamlet? The isochron of commuting distance of the city extends, due to development of transportations,and allows the cities to sprawl. Right?

A: An isochron is a line on a map that shows how far you can travel in a certain amount of time. The 30 minute isochron is used as a basemark for a reasonable commute time. The distance people could commute in 30 minutes has been extended through the mechanization of transportation allowing the city to sprawl out. Basically, people are only willing to live within a 30 minute commute from work. As transportation gets faster, people can live further away. This allows the city to grow larger.

Q: What is the effect of edge cities on the surrounding hinterland?

A: Edge cities are often built over prime farmland, and the highways that connect them to the rest of the 100 mile city fragment habitat.

Q: What caused the current debt crisis?

A: Cheap credit in the 1970's due to the glut of oil-dollars led to massive loans to countries that were previously considered too risky for investment. When the credit dried up in the 1980's, interest rates rose and hooked many countries into a spiral of debt that many cannot get out of.

Q: What are the long-term prospects for highly indebted countries?

A: About the same prospects for highly indebted individuals. They will rarely have any money for local development and social services since most of what is made must go to pay the debt. Many countries (and people) end up spending most of their earnings just to pay the interest on the loan without reducing the principle. In this case, they are locked in for good.

Q: Could you please explain the different models of urban development? What are they and how are they different?

A: Rather than reword in the descriptions from the text, I'll tell you how to examine and compare these models in a more general sense. Each model is an abstraction of reality in order to be able to focus on one aspect of reality at a time. Thus, each provides a simplified version of the physical geography as well as the human nature. Some models leave out topography so they can focus solely on mileage resulting in distance decay. Some models depict humans as mechanistic accountants who react only to profit motive (thus abstracting out all of the other factors that may influence their behavior). Some models depict what are normally messy political processes as merely mathematical calculations that involve little thought on the part of the participants. You should also focus on the unique circumstances depicted in each model. The ecological model of concentric rings describes the effects of massive immigration on urban form. The sectoral model focuses on the effects of topography and transportation corridors. The multiple nuclei model focuses on land-use compatibility. The bid-rent curve model of urban land-use focuses on how competition for a central location results in varying levels of density and land prices.

Q: Why did the gay community choose the Castro district?

A: A complex combination of factors including the fact that it is somewhat isolated topographically from the rest of town, suburban white flight in the 60's left it's reasonable sized Victorian houses largely abandoned and in need of repair. The Sunset district was already largely owner occupied, the Mission District was becoming largely family oriented, and the Hills to the north were just too expensive and full of Mansions.

Q: Why should rivers be understood as more than ribbons of water? what other resources do rivers have to offer?

A: Rivers carry not only water, but also provide a habitat for fish and other wildlife, carry sediments and nutrients vital for agriculture, and when flowing can provide a convenient medium for the removal of waste.

Q: I have in my notes that larger cities are more reliant on non basic functions. Is this right?

A: The larger a city gets, the less reliant it is on basic functions.