- Geography has been instrumental in many ways in the history of humanity. Precisely, geography refers to the study of place as it seeks to comprehend the manners in which humanity influences their environment and how the environment impacts humans. Classical environmental determinism has been instrumental in explaining and underlining the significance of geography to human societies. Geographical determinism attempts to relate how the physical aspect of the environment predisposes the human societies and nations towards the specific development trajectories (Holloway et al. 20). In this regard, it would be descent to state that geography does not only establish whether people can live in some areas or not but also establishes the peoples’ cultures, as they adjust to the climate patterns and available food (Fouberg et al. 30). As humanity migrates across the globe, they have been forced to adapt to every changing condition they come across. Thus, this essay seeks to discuss the roles geography play in the fate of human societies.
Geographical determinism is primarily useful in predisposing the nations as well as societies towards distinct trajectories of political and economic development. The issues relating to how environmental and geographical forces affect economic development, state building, and institutions are all attributed to this critical aspect (Pile 10). For example, historians have documented that population densities tend to have concentrated on the coastlines and countries, which have longer coast often benefits from bigger average revenues compared to landlocked nations. In this regard, coastal configuration, an aspect of geography, plays a huge role in shaping the lives of people, the societies around, and the country at large (Holloway et al. 30).
In addition, coastal living, for many years has been instrumental as human civilizations depended on the coastlines and other waterways for crucial issues of trade, food sources, and irrigation. On the contrary, states lacking coastlines or any form of navigable waterways tend to be less urbanized and possess less development capability because of the slow movement of people, technological advances, and knowledge capital (Pile 10). They have to depend on the time-consuming and costly overland trade that frequently leads to inadequate access to international and regional markets, further deterring growth. Thus, coastline geography plays a huge role in shaping the societies (Fouberg et al. 40).
Furthermore, geographic location assumed a novel significance from the late 15th century, where it propelled countries such as Portugal and Spain, and later the Great Britain and the Netherlands to establish their influence on global human societies. Water transportation was useful in this age. Specifically, the dawn of seafaring exploration age made it possible as countries build their conquests in American and African continents. For instance, Portugal gained access to West Africa coast while Spain gained huge portions of South America (Pile 10). The two nations benefited from gold and slaves thus making the countries wealthier. In later years, the Netherlands and Great Britain carved out global empires, which was attributed to their geographic location that allowed them to influence warfare and trading opportunities.
Impacts of climate on society productivity
Climatic condition is an issue that has mostly affected human society for many years. Primarily, climate refers to the pattern of deviation in temperature, pressure, and humidity in a place or region for an extended time. Climate can be described in numerous ways: tropical with temperatures more than 180C and high rainfall, subtropical climate with mild winters, dry, polar, and continental with some cold winters. Precisely, productivity cannot thrive in places that experience harsh climatic conditions. Human societies need appropriate climatic conditions to become productive. Scholars encompassing Fouberg, Erin, and Alexander have shown that water navigability and climate have an impact on gross domestic product (GDP) per capita and economic growth. The variables such as climate, latitude, land composition, as well as the presence of communicable disease, has accounted for patterns in economic growth on local, regional, and international scales (Holloway et al. 28). This study was arrived by gauging economic development with the GDP per capita attuned to the purchasing power parity (PPP), taking into account labor productivity and population density (Holloway et al. 30).
It can be noted that climate is meticulously associated with the agricultural production because, without good weather conditions, agricultural activities alone shall not generate the excess supply required to build and maintain the economies. This highlights how human societies hugely depend on ideal climate for better productivity (Pile 15). It is common logic, locations experiencing hot tropical climates tend to suffer considerable underdevelopment because of low fertile soils, extreme plant respiration, unpredictable water supply, and ecological factor favoring the existence of infectious of diseases. Tropical climate provides conditions that make infectious diseases to thrive. In fact, the climate has affected humans’ societies throughout the history. Studies reveal that climatic changes played a huge role in the outbreak of the Black Plague during the Middle Age, which resulted in large-scale death among the populace. The Black Death also caused huge migration on the populace. Thus, it can be seen how geographic factor has hugely affected and shaped human society for many centuries (Holloway et al. 30).
Soil performs numerous roles that profoundly impacts the human activities. This aspect is vital in shaping the society in multiple ways. Primarily, soil recycles the nutrients, controls the quality of water, provides structural anchorage to buildings, sustains life, etc. Thus, without healthy soil, a given fertile place shall turn into desert place thereby making it challenging to support the plant’s growth and sustenance of life. Humanity depends on soil for numerous roles. Importantly, it used to support agriculture, an essential aspect that humanity depends (Holloway et al. 30). Moreover, soil does not only support agriculture and other functions mentioned above but also shapes modern life since it contains useful minerals that have currently been instrumental in making numerous things. For instance, the mineral may encompass iron ore that constitutes metal utilized for making heating tools. In addition, some people may shortly migrate to fertile places in the bid to provide for themselves or families, particularly the proletariats in the society (Holloway et al. 30). Thus, human society has been largely impacted by this aspect of soil.
Fouberg et al. have noted that rugged terrain typically makes farming activities challenging. It also prevents travels and restricts societal development. In fact, early African nations applied rough terrain to their benefit: it protected them from the slave trade and other harsh duties subjected to them by colonialists. The rugged terrain restricted the flow of the trade goods and lowered crop availability. It also contributed in isolating societies from enhancing the knowledge capital (Fouberg et al. 30).
Land formation refers to the physical of a place and the various processes that assist in forming a particular shape. Geomorphologic studies help to understand this process. Precisely, geomorphology refers to the study of landforms as well as the processes contribute to their formation. It investigates the impact and nature of the wind, rivers, ice, erosion, volcanoes, earthquakes, living things, and other tectonics forces that shape the Earth’s surface. One particular process that hugely shapes land formation is the plate tectonics, which relates to the movements of the crustal plate within the face of the earth. The plates consistently slide into and past one another (Fouberg et al. 30). These plate movements can impact water availability by disrupting the rivers and land formations that human beings have already settle. For instance, earthquakes have consistently raved cities and settlements areas thus disrupting human societies. It has led to the destruction of properties and loss of lives in many cases. This shows how this process is complete disastrous to human lives and societies (Fouberg et al. 37).
Others such as volcanic eruptions have created disruption to communities. In fact, studies relating to the geographic distribution of humanity settlements point how economic forces, as well as modes of transport, impact the location of cities and towns. Furthermore, climatologic researchers have been vital in evaluating the effects of climatic systems to human societies. They have predicted about El Nino, which is cyclical weather pattern of warm temperatures in the ocean. El Nino can cause flooding and destruction of properties thus disrupting human societies (Holloway et al. 30). Thus, this shows how geography is vital in determining the fate of societies.
Geography and politics
In most places, the politics of the human societies have been shaped by geographical boundaries that societies settle. The politics of the day largely depend on geographic locations. For instance, the societies where two towns share a particular geographic border might be massively influenced by the way they relate with the neighbors (Fouberg et al. 30). When the border is often disputed, this can result in some conflicts but when sound relations exist, trade can occur between the town societies. Furthermore, the position of the city or cities substantially relies on the geography. For example, city planners across history have hugely relied on geographic locations to offer defense against attack as well as permit efficient access to trading opportunities (Fouberg et al. 30).
In conclusion, the essay elucidates how geography is instrumental in determining the fate of human societies. Applying the geographical perspective in explaining how humanity depends on geography for numerous aspects is vital. The concept of geographic determinism summarizes that core role of physical environment in shaping development trajectories in countries and societies. Ideal climatic conditions have also been shown to be useful in supporting agricultural production that human society hugely depends on for survival. Land formation process through the movement of crustal forces occasionally results in earthquakes and volcanoes that disrupt human societies. Similarly, geographic boundaries have been instrumental to human societies in many ways. They have been used as a demarcation of borders in the bid to enhance peace and trade among communities. Disputed geographic locations have always resulted in conflicts among societies and highlights how geography plays a huge role in shaping the societies. The paper has also highlights that the conditions such as El Nino have brought adverse effects to humanity and the community must resolve to various ways to fight for survival.
Fouberg, Erin H., Alexander B. Murphy, and Harm J. De Blij. Human geography: people, place, and culture. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 2009. Print.
Holloway, Lewis, and Phil Hubbard. People and place: the extraordinary geographies of everyday life. London: Pearson Education, 2001. Print.
Pile, Steve. “Emotions and affect in recent human geography.” Transactions of the Institute of British Geographersvol. 35.1 (2010): p. 5-20.