Living in the era of the geographer Posted on April 9th, 2013 by

This quote comes from the Preface of the National Research Council’s 2010 report Understanding the Changing Planet: Strategic Directions for the Geographical Sciences.

earth“We are living in an era of receding glaciers, accelerating loss of species habitat, unprecedented population migration, growing inequalities within and between nations, rising concerns over resource depletion, and shifting patterns of interaction and identity. These phenomena are changing Earth’s geography—altering the character and organization of the planet’s surface and the relationships that exist among its peoples and environments. At the same time, we are in the middle of an explosion in the availability and use of geographical information. From the screens of our personal computers to the dashboards of our cars, spatial information abounds. Geographic information systems (GIS)—and the analytical tools for using these systems wisely—now play a fundamental role in the provision of emergency services, transportation and urban planning, environmental hazard management, resource exploitation, military operations, and the conduct of relief operations. In the years ahead, geographical tools and techniques will be of vital importance to the effort to monitor, analyze, and confront the unprecedented changes that are unfolding on Earth’s surface

“The foregoing circumstances explain why Stanford ecologist Hal Mooney has suggested that we are living in “the era of the geographer”1—a time when the formal discipline of geography’s long-standing concern with the changing spatial organization and material character of Earth’s surface and with the reciprocal relationship between humans and the environment are becoming increasingly central to science and society. . . To be a geographical scientist is to be concerned with reciprocal links between people and nature, as well as the spatial analysis and representation of the flows of mass, energy, people, capital, and information that are shaping, or have shaped, the evolving character of Earth’s biophysical and human environment.”


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