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Geography, the study of the Earth and of man’s interaction with the environment, is very important because of the very profound ways in which humans have directly and indirectly affected the environment. The Earth is considered by astronomers to be about four-and-a-half billion years old. During that period, its surface has changed radically, from the massive continental drift that created today’s continents, to the gradual creation of huge planetary features like the Grand Canyon, the Amazon rainforest, the polar ice caps, and the disposition and characteristics of the world’s oceans. Little that exists today in terms of topiary features existed at the time of the Earth’s formation. Since the dawn of man, and especially since the industrial revolution of the late 18th to the early-to-mid 19th Centuries, humans have deliberately and accidentally altered the physical characteristics of the Earth, from their effect on salinity levels in the oceans and the consequent ramifications for all life in the sea, to the distribution over many decades of substances like hydrocarbons into the atmosphere that have altered the natural air supply, to the destruction of entire forests, which leads to changes in the quantity of fresh oxygen the Earth produces, mankind has interacted with the planet in very substantial and long-lasting ways. It is the geographer’s mission to study and understand all of these phenomena.
Geography covers a broad expanse of areas, including the study of Earth Sciences and the study of human migration patterns over thousands of years. The knowledge attained through the study of these subjects is vital to our understanding of the planet on which we live. Understanding man’s interaction with his environment has been crucial to the political efforts that have been made over the past decade to modify technologies on which people have grown dependent over the years, but which have contributed in large ways to the damage to the Earth’s atmosphere. A geographer’s job is important because every living creature on the planet is dependent upon the knowledge attained through the study of geography.
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