MEDC Urban Issues

With references to a city you have studied in class, outline the issues that it faces, and what the causes of these issues are.


An example of a city with lots of urban issues is Los Angeles. LA is a densely populated Mega City, stretching out for over 498 square miles with a growing population of over 13million. The city is located in the state of California on the west coast of America between San Francisco and the Mexican border.

LA has a high population density, partially due to its geography. LA is squeezed between the Pacific Ocean and the Rocky Mountains, so every available space is used. This limit of space has lead to overcrowding in many areas, especially poorer regions where poor immigrants move there, then can’t afford to move out. Also, because there is so little space for expansion, in many areas there are poor public services as the government hasn’t got the space or the money to build new train lines/stations or improve bus routes on congested roads by for example building another lane. Competition for land and other prime sites means property is expensive to buy or rent. As well as this, freeways built to give access everywhere to drivers, can no longer cope with the volume of traffic so suburbaners who work downtown face long and expensive journeys, as well as increasing the amount of air pollution.

All of this lead to the 1992 race riots, where the high number of immigrants fought back against their poor services in their area and the total lack of government spending. Urbanisation caused 85% of La’s immigrants to be from Mexico or the Asian Pacific Rim countries, and they were looking for a better quality of life in the “city of Dreams”. These people had to take low paid jobs and because they had little money they were forced to live in poorer districts such as Watts, where everything including things such as public services were not of a quality good enough compared to that of places such as Malibu. The riots caused 572 injuries, 25 deaths and over a thousand fires to blaze across the city. Unsurprisingly, the city has a high incidence of crime, including gang warfare where the mix of cultures in the city clash and drug problems, imported from other states or Mexico.

Due to this immigration, LA’s population density has increased rapidly. The amount of people in the area has amounted to high levels of air pollution. Around 13million people relying on cars means that a lot of pollution is produced. Between 60 and 80% of LA’s air pollution comes from Cars and other forms of public transport on the road. This problem is made worse by the fact that because of LA’s geography, the pollution gets trapped over the city as it cannot escape over the Rocky Mountains. This permanent smog over the city causes many problems, but the main ones are that the C02 causes global warming, it corroded and damages all sorts of materials, especially things which buildings there are made of e.g. metal so they need constant repairs, the fumes from diesel cars can cause cancer, crops and fish are killed by acid rain and the fumes from cars also causes photochemical smog to form which causes bronchitis, lung cancer or stops the proper development of the lungs in children.

This problem is not helped by Natural Hazards. The San Andres fault line runs right through the middle of the city. This causes frequent earthquakes which cannot be helped, and there is only so much architects can do in designing buildings so they withstand the earthquakes. So many people loose there lives, are injured or roads and buildings are destroyed amounting to a large re-building cost when an earthquake occurs. Another natural problem is that LA was built in a dessert-like land. This means there is very little water and LA has to rely on Arizona for its large supply. If this supply ever ran out or damaged many problems would occur. Finally, there are frequent landslides in the region caused by earthquakes, heavy rain, deforestation, fires or too much building on fragile land. This destroys homes and other buildings and endanger lives.

All of these problems have lead to a rapid increase in the growth of edge cities. This is where counter-urbanisation creates new smaller settlements where office buildings and houses are built on the edge of LA, over 50km from downtown area. They normally are made off of motorway junctions as this gives road access to the city. As well as the push factors named above, the pull factors for the edge cities are that there are better home and job prospects, less commuting, can escape pollution and congestion in a better environment and lower land and housing costs. These edge cities have all the facilities you would expect except they quite often lack entertainment such as sport centres or cinemas. It is only the richer proportion of the population that move as they are the only ones who can afford to.

Hostile Earth (Part 2)

The Process of aVolcanic Eruption

  1. At a destructive plate boundary the oceanic plate moves towards the continental plate, but as the oceanic plate is heavier it sinks.
  2. The oceanic plate is pushed further under and melts in the hot temperatures of the mantel, and the extra magma increases pressure.
  3. As the melted rock is lighter it forces its way to the surface creating a volcano. Further eruptions build up layers of rock.
  4. Red hot lava flows down the side of the volcano. Gases in the volcano can cause explosions as more magma forces its way upwards, releasing thousands of volcanic bombs and pyroclastic flows. The lava can also mix with water to form Lahas (a type of mudflow which causes more deaths than the lava alone)

If volcanoes are so dangerous, why do we live near them?

  • Fertile soils – the physical breakdown and chemical weathering of rocks over thousands of years forms fertile soil (e.g.  Hawaii)
  • Geothermal energy – water in permeable rocks is heated by the magma beneath to form steam. It can be used to drie turbines for electricity, for spas or for space heating. It is an environmentally-friendly and limitless source of enerfy. (e.g. in Iceland 70% of homes are heated by geothermal energy)
  • Minerals – lava can crystallise into gold/silver/diamonds etc. meaning dormant volcanoes provide good mining oppurtunities, which could lead to job creation and the development of near-by towns.
  • Tourism – Hot springs/geysers are huge tourist attractions and provide additional revenue for the country (e.g. Old Faithful in Yellowstone park)
  • Science – Close study of volcanoes could lead to a better understanding of them and help to develop new prediction techniques
  • Other – local inhabitants often think an eruption won’t happen in their lifetime so it is safe to live there and as it has always been their home they are often reluctant to leave, particually as many jobs are based near volcanoes e.g. logging

Case Study – Mt. St. Helens

A detailed account of the eruption and its affects can be found here, but here is a rather informative and at the same time commical song about the eruption:

Hostile Earth (Part 1)

In this mini-series we’ll be exploring the destructive side of the Earth, its effects and how we can help to protect ourselves. (This will also cover everything you need to know for Unit 2 of  AQA GCSE Geography!)

Plate Margins


  • 2 plates slide past each other, travelling in opposite directions
  • Activity: violent earthquakes
  • Example: San Andreas Fault in California (Pacific & North American plates)


  • An oceanic plate moves towards a continental plate, but because it is heavier it sinks and is destroyed, forming deep-sea trenches  and island arcs. Volcanoes also form as the extra magma created from the destroyed oceanic plate is under pressure and is forced upwards through the rock.
  • Activity: violent volcanic & violent earthquakes
  • Example: Chile (Nazca & South American plates)

Constructive (aka Sea-Floor Spreading)

  • 2 plates move apart forming new oceanic crust as well as mid-ocean ridges with volcanoes
  • Activity: gentle volcanic and gentle earthquakes
  • Example: Mid-Atlantic Ridge (e.g. Iceland) (North American & Eurasian plates)


  • 2 continental crusts collide and as neither can sink they are forced upwards, creating fold mountains
  • Activity: violent earthquakes
  • Example: The Himilayas (Eurasian & Indo-Australian plates)

MEDC Case Study – Kobe, Japan

  • Plate Margin: Destructive
  • Plates: Eurasian & Phillipenes
  • Location: Urban
  • Local Date & Time: 17th January 1995 05:46 a.m.
  • Magnitude: 7.2
  • Primary effects: 200,000 buildings collapsed, 3/4 all quays destroyed, 10 bridges along the bullet train route collapsed, 1 km of Hanshin highway collapsed
  • Secondary effects: 5,500 dead, 40,000 injured, 230,000 homeless when temps averaged -2 degrees, fires from ruptured gas/electricity mains, grid-locked roads, lack of water supplies, industries shut down

LEDC Case Study – Sichuan, China

  • Plate Margin: Conservative
  • Plates: Eurasian & Indo-Australian
  • Location: Rural
  • Local Date & Time: 12th May 2008 02:30 p.m.  
  • Magnitude: 7.9
  • Primary effects: 7,000 classrooms and most buildings collapsed, communication (e.g. phone lines) destroyed, landslides, hospitals destroyed
  • Secondary effects: 70,000 dead, 40,000 injured, 4.8 million homeless, 70% roads blocked, 46 million affected in total, 18,000 still missing presumed dead, $86 billion damage, isolation of villages in remote areas

Reducing the risks from earthquakes

Key definitions

  • Prediction: the use of science/technology to monitor techtonic activity
  • Preparation: creating emergency plans to implement once the disaster has struck
  • Planning: e.g. building design – earthquake-proofing buildings in urban areas to reduce damage, injuries & death
  • Retrofitting: addition of new technology to older buildings
  • Appropriate technology: technology designed with consideration of intended community

In an MEDC…

  • Computer controlled counterweight on roof
  • Cross-bracing to add strength and prevent twisting
  • Automatic window shutters stopping shattered glass#
  • Automatic sprinklers to prevent fires

In an LEDC…

  • Roof made of reinforced concrete
  • Hollow concrete bricks which cause less damage if they fall
  • Foundations made mainly of stone from the remains of previously destroyed buildings
  • Relatively cheap and uses recycled materials

Special Case: Costa Rica

  • Bamboo homes – bamboo is strong but also flexible so less likely buildings will collapse. More environmentally friendly as only 70 hectares of land needed to build 1000 homes compared to 600 hectares of forest.

How to prepare your home:

  • Secure heavy, moveable items of furniture
  • Prepare an earthquake kit
  • Practice earthquake drills (e.g. Disaster Prevention Day in Japan)
  • After the shaking stops check for injuries and check the radio for further instructions
  • Building codes – homes built in at-risk areas must have strong earthquake-proofing

Preperation for and Response to Earthquakes..


  • Local services are well trained and regularly have practice drills
  • New buildings comply with strict earthquake planning regulations
  • Emergency earthquake kits packed
  • Education – teach people what to expect in the event of an earthquake
  • Counselling for distressed children
  • Viible identification numbers on roofs to help helicopters assess damage


  • Looks to international aid and world-wide charities for help
  • Cremate the dead to prevent disease
  • Airfields that bring in rescue teams and emergency supplies are often too far away
  • Poorly built buildings
  • Limited supplies for a large number of victims
  • Makeshift open-air hospitals
  • Limited funds to cover cost of supplies and rebuilding projects
  • Lack of radio/tv/internet that could communicate with people to allow time to evacuatedanger zones or help manage relief operations


  • Evacuation centres in safe areas
  • Community ready and willing to search for victims/survivors but lacks the appropriate equipment
  • Monitoring movementss in the Earth’s crust
  • Massive disruption to power lines transport and communications

Le Stage

Je l’ai écrit il y a deux ans mais je pensais qu’il pourrait être utile. (Je voulais mettre les mots <écrit> et <être> à la fin – trop d’allemand, trop peu de français :/

Tous les élèves de quatrième ont fait un stage en entreprise au mois de mai. Le problème,  c’est ils le feront pourvu qu’ils soient payés, mais pendant le stage tu peut apprendre beaucoup même si tu ne peut pas recevoir d’argent. Le stage a duré quinze jours et j’ai eu de la chance de trouver une place dans une école primaire dans la ville ou j’habite. Pour être professeur, il faut que je sois à l’heure et il faut que j’aie de bons résultats. Aussi, il faut savoir bien communiquer, bien ecouter, il faut avait un bon sens de l’humour, ce qui est important dans ce travail.

Mardi j’ai rencontré les enfants. Comme il pleuvait et que je n’avais pas de parapluie quand je suis sorti de chez moi, je n’étais pas de bonne humeur. Je faisais des photocopies, mais je me suis ennuyée parce que je n’avais grand-chose à faire.

Mercredi j’ai joué avec les enfants et je les aidais pendant leurs leçons. Un garçon, qui s’appelle Adam, il s’est trompé car les maths n’est pas son truc. J’étais  un peu déçu parce que bien qu’il fasse beaucoup d’efforts, il n’était pas récompensé.  A peine la pendule avait-elle sonné trois heures et demie que j’ai remarqué tous les jeunes n’étaient plus dans la classe !

Le stage n’était pas complètement positif mais j’ai beaucoup apprécié mon stage car j’ai appris beaucoup de choses. Par exemple je suis maintenant assurée quand je suis en classe. Mes collègues étaient accueillants et pleins de bons conseils.

Je ne sais pas encore si je continuerai mes études après mes examens GCSE mais je voudrais bien retourner y travailler. Je trouve que quand j’ai dix-huit ans je serai a l’université ou j’espère étudier les maths et j’ai l’intention d’être professeur dans un collège. Par contre mon frère n’a pas de projet précis. Il a l’ambition poursuivre les études car il veut devenir homme d’affaires et il sera très heureux avec beaucoup d’argent.


With the January exams looming I thought I’d share my revision notes for the geography unit on tourism 🙂

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Counter Urbanisation


With reference to a specific example describe and explain the causes and effects of counter urbanization in an MEDC.

Counter-urbanisation is taking place in the UK, from London, the capital and most populated city in the UK, to Tiptree, a village along the A12 between London and Colchester.

One of the main reasons for leaving London is that the cost of living is very high. Demand for homes in the capital where there is little room for expansion and lots of businesses means that there is a huge amount of competition for housing nearby people’s workplaces for example. The huge demand means that prices rise and many people can’t afford it. Whereas in Tiptree there is not a lot of competition for houses as there is a more sparse population. House prices here are a lot cheaper than in London, and you get larger accommodation for your money.

As a crowded city, London has a fairly polluted environment, with poorer air quality, lots of litter and a lot of noise from many things such as roads. Whereas in Tiptree, the environment is more welcoming, with clean air, only small amounts of litter, and lots of wide, open spaces.

The amount of immigration to the London area has seen much over crowding in schools in the city, but in the smaller village of Tiptree there is no overcrowding so schools can cope with the amount of pupils and their learning doesn’t suffer.

Transport links into and out of the city of London are very overcrowded and therefore there is a lot of congestion, and many people are often late for work, or late getting home. Tiptree does not have this problem as it is a smaller village and traffic can quickly flow easily through so there is not any lateness.

Due to all these reasons, counter-urbanisation is taking place. The richer population of London who can afford to move do so from the city to local villages like Tiptree. Yet while having a more positive impact on London, it negatively affects Tiptree.

This is because as more and more people move out of parts of London, there becomes less road congestion as there are fewer people with fewer cars, and local school and hospitals may become less crowded as there are fewer people li8ving and needing those services in the area.

On the overhand, in Tiptree, housing prices rise as there becomes a greater demand from all those leaving London. First time buyers then struggle to buy their first property as prices become too much for them to afford.

The local populations are swamped with newcomers who are often disliked as they live but don’t work in the village and are seen as outsiders to the community of Tiptree. Also, there becomes congestion at peak times within the village as people travel to London for work.

The main school in Tiptree, Thurstable School, had to be extended to cope with the increase in the number of 11-18 year olds in the area.

As more and more people move to Tiptree, there becomes a loss of open green spaces as extra amenities such as golf courses, shops, gyms pubs and new roads open due to the high increase in the population. This costs a fair amount of money, and the beautiful countryside is slowly destroyed by excess buildings.

The Tropical Rainforest (Amazon Project Part 1)


The Tropical rainforest is a forest found near the equator. The temperature only varies by a few degrees all year. It looks green all year round even though many of the trees are deciduous, because there is a constant temperature there are no seasons so the trees lose their leaves at different times of year. The rainforests hold more of the world’s species of plants and animals than any other biome. The Amazon has around 50% of the world’s species of plants and animals.


The rainforest is mainly made up of well-designed and adapted trees. These millions of trees grow in four main layers. The top layer of trees is made up of very tall trees reaching heights of over 50 meters called Emergent. They have specially designed buttress roots so they do not fall over. The next layer is called the canopy, with trees growing to around 30 meters. This is where most of the animals live; flowers grow and the layer that gets the most light. The next layer is called the under canopy or under storey with trees growing to around 10meters. Here it is quite dark. The last layer is the shrub layer. Here it is very quiet and plants may only get sunlight for a few minutes of the day, so they have very dark green leaves and turn to face the sun. Some plants have adapted to grow on the taller trees and use their energy to survive. The animals have adapted to have bright and bold colours, being able to make a loud noise and eat diets that consist mainly of fruit as well as living in the canopy where there is more food and light. The nutrients cycle helps to keep the rainforest alive. Most of the trees are deciduous, but they all lose there leaves at different times of the year, so the forest floor is always covered in leaves all year round. Decomposers then eat these leaves. They then excrete and put nutrients back into the soil. The trees then suck up the nutrients so they can grow. Sometimes over plants will grow on the trees, and suck nutrients from their host tree. The tree then loses it leaves and the cycle starts again.


The Tropical Rainforest is found mainly between the Tropic of Capricorn to the south and the Tropic of Cancer to the north. It is found here, as there is a hotter climate because there is more direct sunlight hitting the earth, as it is not as round as the top of the Earth, so the sun has a smaller area of land to heat. The main areas of tropical rainforest are shown on this map. The two red lines show the topics of cancer and Capricorn


It rains a lot in the Rainforest because it is very hot all day. This is part of the water cycle. As the sun heats the ground, it heats the air above it. The warm air then rises, cools, and condenses, causing convectional rainfall.  Some of the rain is evaporated off the leaves or held as moisture in the leaves. Some water runs off the leaves and is absorbed into the soil. The rest runs off into the river. Only about 20% of the rain makes it backinto the river. As you can see by this climate graph, the amount of rain does vary a lot throughout the year; there is always plenty of water. The temperature does not vary much at all.