San Diego County, California is a popular geographic location in the United States. The properties of the physical geography of this area create favorable opportunities for economic growth. At the same time, this region possesses a number of environmental threats that need to be addressed to ensure a favorable environment for humans, flora, and fauna. This paper aims to survey the history of the geography of San Diego as well as to detect its today’s political, economic, and environmental implications and perspectives for the future.
In terms of political geography, the history of every city/country is predefined and greatly affected by the natural geography of the area. San Diego County is a good proof of this rule. This location possesses several geographic properties that made it a valuable destination for settling down. Firstly, it has access to water, namely, the western part of San Diego is washed by the Pacific Ocean (“Programs & Projects,” n.d.). Therefore, the history of this geographic place starts as a port city, which makes it closely related to international trading and tourism.
Simultaneously, the geological history of San Diego County reveals that this region is rich in gem minerals. In particular, scholars accentuate that “pink and green tourmaline, aquamarine, golden topaz, and blood-red almandine garnet are but a few of the gems found in these earliest igneous rocks of the eastern zone” (Walawender, n.d.). Undoubtedly, considerable deposits of gem minerals make San Diego a popular destination for many people. It implies a significant capital inflow, which predefines economic development because natural resources are turned into capital that is accumulated in the urban infrastructure of the region. In addition, the closeness of the ocean and rocks stimulates the development of tourism, which is another considerable source of enrichment.
The atmosphere of San Diego County is Mediterranean (Berger, 2013). This property is stipulated by the closeness of the ocean and mountains. The wind “has a northerly component all through the year, a fact that is responsible for the California Current running southward” (Berger, 2013, p. 9). The amount of rainfall is moderate in the western area; however, the presence of mountains predefines dry climate in the desert area, which is situated on the east of the country.
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San Diego County contains sufficient reservoirs of fresh water, in particular, the basin of the San Dieguito River (Image 1) (Berger, 2013). Moreover, the western part of the county is washed by the Pacific Ocean. In addition, frequent rainfalls ensure rich water deposits in the western area.
The land area constitutes 4,206.63 square miles (United States Census Bureau, n.d.). San Diego contains a range of landscapes, such as rocks, drylands, coastal areas, mountains, and valleys. Berger (2013) accentuates that “the tremendous diversity of landscapes and living things within the region,” ranging from kelp forests, lagoons and marshes in the west to the Cholla- and Ocotillo-bearing drylands in the east, is the hallmark of San Diego County (p. 4). In this regard, it is appropriate to define that the major peculiarities of the lithosphere are mountains that continue to grow and marine realms.
The biosphere of San Diego is represented by a great diversity of flora and fauna. This particularity is predefined by geographic diversity (Berger, 2013). Both visitors and local citizens can enjoy co-existence with numerous species. Berger (2013) informs that “for all types of plants, vertebrates and invertebrates there is an unusually high number of species, reflecting a plethora of ecological communities within the general geographic setting of the county” (p. 2). Undoubtedly, a rich biosphere encourages the development of tourism and related services and thus becomes a crucial factor in facilitating the enrichment of the discussed territory. Thus, preserving biodiversity is one of the main tasks that should be accomplished. Nevertheless, it appears to be a challenging task, as judged by the number of ecological issues, which are discussed in detail below.
Undoubtedly, physical geography significantly impacts the patterns of settlement. For example, this influence is tangible in terms of industry orientation and schemas of urbanization. For example, the ever-growing mountains that trap rain make the eastern area of San Diego County even dryer and thus less suitable for settlements (Berger, 2013). Besides, scholars suggest that the presence of mountains and coastal areas increases the likelihood of natural disasters (The San Diego Foundation, n.d.). Furthermore, while a great part of San Diego is covered with mountains, it is possible to deduce that the remaining territory is at risk of overpopulation. In 2010, the density of the population in San Diego amounted to 736 inhabitants per 1square mile (United States Census Bureau, n.d.). These statistics indicate a moderate ratio of density, which may increase if the territory is limited further by physical geography. Moreover, this tendency may increase the level of poverty because, despite favorable geographic properties, limited territory and environmental issues may lead to greater income polarization. Today, the ratio of the poor is rather high in San Diego. Thus, according to the United States Census Bureau (n.d.), about 15% of local citizens live in poverty. To anticipate the further negative effects of climate change and altered physical geography, it is appropriate to detect and mitigate the current ecological issues. Therefore, the next paragraph is aimed at discussing the major environmental problems affecting the area.
Acknowledging the global climate change, The San Diego Foundation (n.d.) elaborates on the environmental sustainability program 2050. This initiative is supposed to reduce the ecological footprint and prevent market failure caused by the production and consumption of the negative externalities of business performance. Defining the target areas, it is presumed that “the various impacts of climate change expected in the region related to extreme weather events, water supply, wildfires, natural resources, and public health” (The San Diego Foundation, n.d., p. 1). Potential ecologic issues are grouped into four main spheres and discussed below.
The San Diego Foundation (n.d.) forecasts that in the middle of the 21st century, the average temperature in this area will increase significantly. In addition, the rise of temperature will change the pattern of rainfalls. Specifically, it is expected that rainfalls will be less frequent but more intense. These two factors will alter the climate to an extent when people, flora, and fauna must adjust rapidly to the new environment. Undoubtedly, it threatens the survival and well-being of many species and may significantly deteriorate economic development of San Diego. Furthermore, this rapid change inflicts such ecological disasters as flooding, wildfires, and health issues related to the increase of temperature (The San Diego Foundation, n.d.).
The rise of temperature heats the sea and freshwater reservoirs. As a result, many marine species will be endangered, thus making a tremendous negative impact on the businesses connected with seafood and tourism. Furthermore, hotter water intensifies the droughts. In addition, the quality of fresh water may be deteriorated because of temperature rise. Besides, the sea level has a tendency to increase, which means that the land territory is at risk of being reduced. It means that the coastal area, which is greatly profitable because of the well-developed tourism sector, will suffer great losses. Apart from that, the rise of the sea level often results in excessive coastal flooding (The San Diego Foundation, n.d.).
In general, landscapes are expected to alter in terms of decreased coastal territory and enhanced areas of dry lands and deserts. Moreover, the rise of temperature makes soils less fertile, which endangers well-being of humans as well as negatively affects the wildlife. In addition, the wildfire seasons will be prolonged and more severe. Apart from the increased mortality rate among flora, fauna, and humans, this adverse tendency will increase the economic burden on the state and every individual. Specifically, enhanced funding for emergency prevention and management is required to anticipate and withstand the above-discussed changes. This peculiarity implies the growing costs of tax-payers and enhanced individual expenditure for troubleshooting the damages of climate change (The San Diego Foundation, n.d.).
The hallmark of San Diego County, its biodiversity, will be reduced because of the aforementioned ecological issues. Undoubtedly, this negative trend decreases the profits obtained in the tourism sector. Moreover, misbalance between ecosystems will lead to greater environmental issues, which may increase the ratio of the poor.
Summing up, it is necessary to stress that San Diego is an important area in terms of political geography. It is famous for the diversity of landscapes, biodiversity as well as the Mediterranean climate, which attract lots of visitors. Therefore, tourism is one of the key industries in this area. In general, the benevolent climate conditions are interwoven with the environmental threats that need to be anticipated and mitigated to ensure the future flourishing of the region. In addition, one should accentuate that physical geography restricts further development and expansion of urban infrastructure. In particular, the growing mountains and decreasing coastal territory are the factors that limit urban possibilities. At the same time, scientists detect a number of ecological problems that are expected to exacerbate within the next 50 years. The issues are mostly connected to global warming. Overall, the properties of physical geography and current climate change in San Diego contain both threats and opportunities, which should be seriously considered to enhance the prosperity of the discussed area.