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Human-Environment Interaction

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  1. Human-Environment Interaction North Africa and the Middle East

  2. The Aswan High Dam • A dam on the Nile River in Egypt • Completed in 1970 • Increased Egypt’s farmable land by 50% (2-3 harvests per year) • Protected farmable land from droughts and floods • Lake Nasser is the artificial lake created behind the dam

  3. Problems with the Dam • During construction, many people had to be relocated, including 1000s of Nubians, whose who way of life was permanently changed • Ancient sites either had to be moved or could not be saved – temples at Abu Simbel had to be moved; small ancient treasures now lie at the bottom of Lake Nasser

  4. Problems with the Dam • Decreased the fertility of the soil • The Nile no longer deposits its rich silt (sediment) on the farmland, so farmers have to purchase expensive artificial fertilizer • Year round irrigation has resulted in a water table in Egypt • Floodwaters used to flush out the salt, but now expensive field drains have to be installed

  5. Problems with the Dam • Rates of malaria and other diseases have increased due to greater numbers of mosquitos • Egyptians lose millions of gallons of fresh water due to evaporation because Lake Nasser holds the floodwaters

  6. Water in the Middle East • Ancient practices work well with small fields but not large fields • Dams and irrigations systems needed for large fields • Several countries in the region use drip irrigation – practice of using small pipes that slowly drip water just above ground to conserve water used for crops

  7. Negev Desert in Israel

  8. Desalinization • Desalinization is the removal of salt from ocean water • This is done at technically sophisticated water treatment plants • Water may be too salty to use for irrigation so it is used in sewage systems • Very expensive and cannot provide adequate quantities of water to meet all the needs of people in the Middle East

  9. Fossil Water • Water pumped from underground aquifers is called fossil water because it has been in the aquifer for a long time • Fossil water has little chance of being replaced because the region has too little rainfall • It is estimated that at the current rate water is being pumped, only about 25 to 30 years of water usage remain

  10. Impact of Oil on the Land • Petroleum that has not been processed is called crude oil • Crude oil pumped from the ground must be moved to a refinery • The job of a refinery is to convert the crude oil into useful products • Pipelines transport the crude oil either to refineries or to ports where the oil is picked up by tankers and moved to other places for processing

  11. Risks of Transporting Oil • Moving oil from one location to another always involves the risk of oil spills • The largest oil spill ever recorded occurred on January 1991 during the Persian Gulf War • A series of tankers and oil storage terminals in Kuwait and on islands off its coast were blown up • More than 24 million gallons of crude oil were spilled into the water and on land