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Environmental geography

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Revision as of 16:05, 13 November 2007 by Johanna Haas (Talk | contribs) (Environmental determinism: added Sauer, reference)

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Environmental geography examines interlinkages between human and natural systems. This discipline combines parts of human geography and physical geography.


History of environmental geography

Geography's origins lay in the linkages of human and natural systems. Early geographic study was tied to exploration and cartography as well as understanding the distribution of natural phenomena.

Environmental determinism

Environmental determinism is the doctrine that human activities are controlled by the environment. This belief has waxed and waned over the years, and was dominant in human geography in the early part of the twentieth century, in the work of such scholars as Americans Ellen Churchill Semple and Ellsworth Huntington, and Briton Halford Mackinder whose work traced linkages between natural and human patterns, following in the tradition of the German Friedrich Ratzel. This work was linked to Social Darwinism and utilized to justify colonial expansion and racial typecasting. Ratzel, as Hitler's geographer, was influential in German expansionism. Scholars in this field attempted to create a causal science creating ties between environmental causes and human results.

Today, environmental determinism has been discarded, replaced by ideas of environmental influence (where nature shapes but does not mandate human activity), and complex multi-directional influences between nature and society. Carl Sauer's work was important in showing how humans change nature as well as nature shaping humans Cite error: Closing </ref> missing for <ref> tag