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Geographers concern themselves with more than maps; they examine the whole of life itself. They view the planet as one interconnected symbiotic system, and this perspective comes to bear in their approach to the problems humanity faces. They favor hard facts over naive idealism. They seek to help the world, but they gird their expectations with pragmatic realism. They seek to answer questions about what humanity is and where it is going with data rather than vague philosophical notions.
To quote Tony Cassidy, “Geography is important because it opens our eyes; a landscape is no longer a static feature, but a complex battleground of physical and human interactions. Local is no longer local, but a collision point for the interaction of many ‘locals’ drawn from a global stage. With technology increasingly drawing the world closer together, it is important that the role of Geography in helping the public in understanding this complex and unpredictable world is championed!”
Humanity finds itself in a position where the ills of poverty can be alleviated, and yet people in various regions of the world continue to suffer. America maintains a 15 percent poverty rate, and it’s a problem that could be alleviated with a mere four percent of the total GDP. The primary obstacle is politics, and although the situation is far more complicated in other countries, politics is the biggest obstacle to systemic change in favor of the poor.
Agriculture is what enabled humans to leave the jungle, but modern farming methods are taking a toll on the very ground where food is grown. Petroleum-based pesticides and fertilizers are eliminating minerals from the soil at an alarming rate, and there’s a possibility that it will soon become harder to grow food for reasons other than unpredictable weather patterns.
Roughly 10,000 species go extinct every year. This is an utter catastrophe that gets less press than it should. Habitats that are vital to various parts of the ecosystem have begun to vanish, and it’s impossible to predict what will happen if nothing is done to decelerate the decimation of animal populations.
The fact that so many people associate the term geography with map making is a big part of a worse problem: People are mostly unaware of what is happening in the world around them and why. That’s inevitable when one-third of school children can’t locate the state of Louisiana. It will be largely impossible to solve the major problems in the pipeline with an ignorant and apathetic populace, and that’s why so many geographers focus heavily on fixing the school system.
The Bright Side
Geographers have quite a few grim things to worry about. They are scientists, and scientists carry the biggest burdens because they know better than anyone else what humanity is in for. On the other hand, this is an amazing time to be alive, and some innovations such as cloud brightening could provide solutions to rising global temperatures and acidic seas. Geographers and other scientists are not concerned because they fear doom and gloom; they are concerned because the actions that need to be taken need to be taken now, and there’s no time to lose if the future is going to be brighter than today.
About the Author: Scott Naisbit writes for education blogs. Interested in a degree in the field of geography? You may want toallowing for a flexible schedule while completing your classes.
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