Throughout history, geography has affected the people that inhabit it. Geography has affected how people live, their culture, and their type of society. To make life easier, people have often altered the land they live on. Sometimes these changes can damage the land and the people that live there. There are several examples of societies changing the environment to benefit their lives. Two cases of this are the Chernobyl’ accident and the draining of the Aral Sea. The Chernobyl’ nuclear power plant was built by the Soviet Union in the 1970’s.
It was built to provide electricity to about ten percent of the Ukraine. The building of the power plant had no large effects on the environment, but the incident that happened there had many. On April 26, 1986 there was a planned shutdown occurring at Chernobyl.
When reactor number 4 was at low power it became very unstable, after a sudden power surge the reactor was destroyed by two explosions. A large hole was formed in the roof of the building.
Radioactive debris escaped from the building and entered the atmosphere. The debris contaminated a lot of surface water and topsoil. The radioactive debris that escaped from the hole in the plant had several effects on society. After the explosion, winds carried the radioactive particles northwest to Belorussia. Because of the explosion and the danger of the radioactive particles, many people had to be evacuated from their homes. It is estimated that over 200,000 people were evacuated because of the explosion. There were also many long lasting effects on society due to the exposure to the radio active particles.
Many of the effects are controversial because they cannot be proved that they were due do the exposure of radiation. One effect that has been directly linked to the Chernobyl’ accident is the rise in thyroid cancer in children. For example, thyroid cancer rates in one area were twenty-two times higher after the accident than they were before the accident. In the early 1960’s, the Soviet Union began to expand agriculture. Due to Central Asia’s dry climate, it was necessary to irrigate water from the Amu Darya and the Syr Darya to grow crops.
These two rivers were the main source of water for the Aral Sea. By the 1980’s, because of the irrigation, the inflow to the Aral Sea was ten percent of what it used to be in the 1950’s. Subsequently, due to evaporation and little rain, the level of the Aral Sea dropped dramatically. By 1996 the Aral Sea has lost 80 percent of its volume. The draining of the Aral Sea had several negative effects on the environment and the society. The deltas of the Amu Darya and Syr Darya were degraded severely by desertification. The change also had many vast impacts on society. Because of the lowered sea level, shipping on the Aral was forced to stop because the sea retreated several kilometers from the major ports. Salt and dust from the old sea bottom became airborne and is linked to a rise of several respiratory illnesses in the area. The airborne salt also causes problems with crops and damages them. In the end, the irrigation indirectly made it harder for crops to grow in the area. Both of the changes that society made to their environment had great benefits at the time. The changes made life simpler and easier; at the same time, both produced very serious consequences. When the environment is changed by society, it changes their lives as well as the land.