The rapid urbanization and the environmental destruction prompts individuals to consider human settlements regarding population increase and risk factors. Human settlements and its relation to the natural environment influences geography, agriculture and architecture. Several studies focus on the effect of population development to the environment and its impact to environmental destruction. However, the physical environment dictates the human activities and settlement depending on the landscape and the risk of disasters. The suitability of a region for human activities depends on several factors including the physical environment and natural risk hazards such as volcanic eruptions and floods.
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A region is considered suitable for human settlement activities if the physical environment allows the occupation. Factors such as topography determine the human activities in a particular region. A mountainous region for instance would be unsuitable for human settlements but would allow the growth trees for logging and a habitat for indigenous species. Additionally, people hardly occupy swampy areas and river deltas. Such environments limit human settlements hence they have low population densities.
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Additionally, climate affects human settlement. Harsh temperatures tend to affect agricultural activities hence affecting the food production in these areas. Naturally, human beings migrate to areas where they can cultivate food to facilitate their existence. Additionally, very high or low temperatures expose populations to diseases hence increasing the mortality rates. Therefore, extreme temperatures have low populations compared to the average temperatures. Figure 7.1 shows the distribution of extreme environments and according to the Population Density Grid of 2015, the tundra and periglacial areas have less than one person per kilometer square. The desert and semi desert areas also show sparse populations. The Polar Regions have low temperatures which also decreases human activities.
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The vegetation and the soil also have an impact on the suitability of an area for human settlement activities. For instance, among the planets, earth is the only planet that supports human life. It contains free oxygen, oceans and supports plant life. Without soil, the humans cannot grow food to sustain their lives. Therefore, people consider regions with good soil and vegetation covers as settlement areas.
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Finally, the natural hazards affect the population densities. Geophysical hazards such as volcanoes, earthquakes, tsunamis and landslides affect the population distribution. For instance, the areas around active volcanoes are sparsely populated as people avoid the risk of disasters. The flow of lava causes damage to properties and loss of human life. In addition to this, the gases released during the eruption affect the quality of air, may lead to acid rains and eventually result in climate change. An example of an active volcano is in the Highland of Hawaii which lies over the hotspot. Earthquakes also affect human settlements. The areas prone to earthquakes are also likely to have active volcanos.
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In conclusion, the population distribution and human activities are affected by the physical environment. Despite the advantages gained from natural disasters such as fertile soil after a volcanic eruption, the risk factors associated with them outweigh the advantages. Therefore, it is common to witness sparse population in the risk areas as people seek safe places to establish settlements. Human activities such as mining also contribute to the instability of the geographical features in the world. Deforestation for instance causes climate change which leads to desertification in the long run. Responsible human activities should therefore be encouraged to boost the sustainability of the planet to create a conducive environment for human activities. Focusing on sustainable activities boosts the suitability of regions to human activities and permits the utilization of the environment.
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