GGR107H1 Chapter Notes -Gerardus Mercator, Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, Carl Ritter

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Published on 3 Oct 2012
Geography Textbook Notes
Getting Started
Geography provides a deeper understanding of how and why difference exist, how
people and goods move from place to place, and how people relate to their
environment and each other.
High concentration of people in urban areas leads to tensions and conflict.
Resource projects located in remote and fragile environments such as oil and gas
drilling in Canada’s north are proposed to meet peoples demands for goods
These issues and interactions for the core of contemporary human geography
Geography devotes to answering questions on biophysical and human systems
Geographers are interested in how things are interrelated in different regions over
space and time
Geography is often referred to as spatial science- concerned with the use of earths
Answers how and why physical and cultural items differ from place to place & how
observable spatial patterns evolved throughout time
Geographic understanding is based on your awareness of where things are, of their
spatial relationships and the varying content of the different areas and places you
frequently visit
Geography matters in the building of schools, hospital, shopping centers ect.
4 areas throughout the world where geographers could make a meaningful
contribution (1) geography classrooms should put students in contact with the world
beyond their immediate communities in order that they learn about distant people
and places (2) geographic technologies could allow for the development of early
warning systems about natural disasters and environmental threats and better plan
our cities especially the developing worlds (3) geographers could contribute to the
Millennium Ecosystem Assessment which will map the health of the planet (4)
development of a common UN geographic database
Geography is about space and the context of space in the present, past & future
Straddles both natural sciences and social sciences/liberal arts
Questions how objects and human activities are related
Geography is concerned with understanding both the physical and cultural aspects
of an area
Evolution of the Discipline
Geography’s name was coined by Eratosthenes from the words “geo”, the earth and
“graphein”, to write.
From the beginning, writings focused on both the physical structure of the earth and
on the nature and activities of the people who inhabit the different lands of the
known world
Strabo- task of geography was to describe the countries of the world and treat the
differences between countries
Herodotus- studied lands, people, economies, and customs of Persian Empire as
background to understanding the causes of the Persian War.
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Greeks & later Romans- measured the earth, devised meridians (latitude &
longitude) and made maps of the known worlds
They explored the latitudinal variations in climate and described the Mediterranean
basin & Europe, Asia & Equatorial Africa
They described river systems, explored causes of erosion, & patterns of deposition,
cited the dangers of deforestation, described natural landscapes, and noted the
consequences of environmental abuse
Focused on how humans lived & distinctive similarities and differences in
language, religion, & customs
Strabo- cautioned against the assumption that nature/actions of humans were
determined by the physical environment they inhabited
Observed that humans were active elements in a human-environmental partnership
Evolution of Geography in Europe
Immanuel Kant- German scholar, suggested disciplines that provided temporal and
spatial perspectives were just as important as economics/sociology
In his view, it was important to understand how events occurred and changed over
time and space
Alexander von Humboldt- described the physical geography of the world
Focused on interaction between nature and people
Also made comparisons among places and made general statements about people
and places
Comparative approach and ability to provide systematic and precise observations
gave scientific credibility to his work
Carl Ritter- keen observer of the landscape who appreciated how humans interacted
with their environment and saw unity in the diversity of the world
Sought to understand the interconnections/relationships that defined regions
During the Renaissance- European exploration prompted governments to map new
Gerardus Mercator- developed a map that allowed explores to maintain a compass
bearing along a straight line drawn on his projection
At this time there were major developments in surveying and mapping that allowed
for more accurate maps to be produced.
As trade increased maps were politically/economically important
Map making & describing areas became dominant aspects of the discipline
Atlases and map divisions were produced to support government claims to
sovereignty and to promote development in new territories
19th century- national censuses & trade statistics gave a firmer foundation to human
geographic investigation
Prussian (now German) government- established permanent chairs of geography at
all its universities
This established geography as a permanent discipline
There are differences among nations about how geography should be practised
Britain- committed to regional geography
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