Throughout mankind, geography has always impacted its ability to continue prospering and developing. Whether it be the wars that have been fought in the past or man’s ability to discover new areas on earth, geography has always prevailed and provided an almost formidable challenge for the human race. One area of geography that continues to remain relevant in the 21st century, as it has been in the past is natural disasters and how they have challenged the ability of mankind to persevere and become more resilient in nature. Each year, natural disasters occur worldwide whether it be in colder conditions at the poles or in areas of remote United States where tornadoes are more prevalent (Hughes, 3). Natural disasters continue to result in extensive loss of life.
This paper will argue that geography, based on its fierce nature with respect to natural disasters, has imposed numerous obstacles for mankind but has also provided opportunities for rejuvenation and growth in the future. In supporting this argument, the following points will be analyzed and also scrutinized in detail: 1) The natural disasters that continue to plague the earth, 2) Climate change, and 3) geography and war. The broad focus of this paper is on the natural components of geography such as storms, natural disasters and its rapidly changing nature and how this has impacted world history over centuries.
With respect to natural disasters, they occur very year and have for thousands of centuries. When looking back over the last century of world history, the majority of fatal events or periods of struggle and challenge have resulted from natural disasters imposed by geography itself. For example, the numerous volcanoes that plagued the western coast of the United States throughout the early 20th century were not a result of mankind or its wrongdoing but rather nature itself and some level of spontaneity (Hughes, 4). These earthquakes destroyed thousands of western communities and extensive loss of life.
However as mankind would suggest, a certain level of perseverance and resilience was shown when man was able to respond to this by developing architecture, which could better withstand these natural disasters and the potential for tsunamis along the western coast. Similarly in 2011 and 2012, Christchurch in New Zealand, over 5,000 miles away from the United States, experienced earthquakes of similar magnitude and also resulted in extensive loss of life and re-developments to help society resist any further damage from future earthquakes altogether. In the text “The Fleeting World”, one major part of the history of mankind is its ability to experience natural disasters and the inherent “Wrath” of mother nature has we perceive it to be (Christian, 32). This supports the ongoing nature of natural disasters and how they continue to plague the world with loss of life. World history would also suggest that natural disasters are spontaneous and have the ability to change lives and therefore, the course history. For an additional example, communities in the United States have been completely rebuilt and rejuvenated as a result of tornadoes that ravaged these areas throughout the 20th century and many years prior to this. They certainly changed the course of history by providing mankind with a unique and almost overbearing challenge altogether (Hughes, 5).
There are other parts of the world that have experienced similar natural disasters and which prove that can affect a broad and diverse range of people worldwide. For example, the tsunami’s that are experienced by southeastern Asian nations such as Indonesia are further testimony to the ability of geography to provide spontaneous and ruthless natural disasters that change communities, at first for the worst but often in the long term, for the better overall (Hughes, 6).
The issue of climate change is also another aspect of geography. Similarly to natural disasters, it can have a rather detrimental impact on mankind and the subsequent loss of life; however, can be argued as being induced by the ruthlessness and ignorance of mankind over many centuries. Climate change is a negative impact of geography in society as can be explained by variable temperatures and conditions and climate data that is now irrelevant for any part of the world. For example, the melting of the ice caps at the North and South Poles is one negative component of climate change and has significant changed world history and how society is developing today in the 21st century (Christian, 51). Thousands of habitats have been wiped out by climate change and animals, essential to the existence of mankind, are dying out. For example, the polar bears can no longer maintain their habitats as the ice is melting at both poles whilst sea temperatures are increasing and such phenomenal natural beauties that society heavily relies on as the Great Barrier Reef are being destroyed. Despite the extensive and rather detrimental impacts of climate change, which have been proposed as having a very detrimental impact on weather and the conditions we face on a daily basis, it has also allowed mankind to rejuvenate and find ways around it (Hughes, 5). Additionally, climate change has changed world history by further inspiring mankind to better adapt to certain conditions and find ways to reduce its overall and rather detrimental impact on the environment. For example, the use of greener and more efficient energies is one way that man has responded positively to climate change whilst also highlighting how geography can have a positive impact on mankind and provide numerous opportunities for future development (Christian, 20). Based on climate change, geography does determine the course of human history as humans are now relying less on highly toxic energy sources and more so on cleaner and more environmentally friendly energy sources overall.
It can also be proposed that geography has had both positive and negative impacts on society through wartime operations. In many ways, geography has resulted in war as humans fight over land or the rights to a particular area. For example, the American civil war was fought over land to the south and north and issues involving slaves and the harsh conditions provided by geography. Furthermore, the constituents of Texas were also deliberating over whether to divide the state into more regions. The American civil war ultimately resulted in the deaths of thousands of people and was regarded as one of the bloodiest battles of the modern age (Christian, 30). It also highlights how geography can have such a menacing grip on relations between different societies. Despite the bloodthirsty battles that have encapsulated geography and its detrimental impacts on society, mankind has still been able to persevere and eventually the American Civil War ended and has ultimately resulted in the United States becoming liberated. Furthermore, the United States is now at peace as a result of geography and its ability to influence different regions and their perspectives towards one another (Hughes, 4). Similarly throughout the first and second world wars, geography determined which side won and how many people were killed. The final result of both wars was peace with wars thereafter being short lived and focusing on bringing together society and overcoming such negative influences as terrorism (Hughes, 5).
In conclusion, each the points provided in this paper have highlighted how geography can initially cause significant detriment in society and throughout world history but also have the affect of inspiring growth, development and most significantly, rejuvenation. Geography does, based on these many examples and instances, determine the course of human history and as a result, society is now better for it and more advanced in a number of different ways.
- Christian, D. This Fleeting World. Barnes & Noble, 2006, Text, Accessed on 25th April, 2016.
- Hughes, K. Geography’s influence on World History, Society and Human
Development. You Tube, Video, 2011, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IM8Kea4OBfk (25th April, 2016).