Scarcely a day goes by when we are not reminded by the media of the ongoing struggle for survival that is being waged in all the far-flung corners of Planet Earth. Headlines tell of a flood in Bangladesh, a famine in Ethiopia, an earthquake in Guatemala. We read of war in Bosnia, terrorism in the Middle East, and religious strife in Northern Ireland. Our TV screens shock us with on-the-spot photos of racial violence in Los Angeles and military clashes in Central America and China. But, some of the most important news items never appear under datelines, because they are so pervasive, so insidious, and so continuous. For example, the escalating growth of the world's population and the seemingly inexorable deterioration of the earth's environment. The air we breath and the water we drink is becoming fouled; acid rain takes a rising toll of life in our forests and lakes; increasing emission of certain gases threatens our planet with climbing temperatures and decreasing protective ozone; the devastation of tropical rain forests and the depletion of groundwater reserves continues apace; problems of waste disposal loom steadily larger; the AIDS epidemic spreads its scourge ever farther and wider; refugee crises threaten regional geopolitical stability.
In a world so shrunken in distance and time that you can almost instantly communicate with any other city on any other continent, and in which you can fly to virtually its remotest corner in a matter of hours, a knowledge of differing peoples and places can no longer be considered the luxury of a few. It is, instead, a necessity of every individual. Our interdependence is now so complete that business decisions taken in Tokyo or Singapore have repercussions in Copenhagen and Peoria. Just to stay abreast of world events, much less to function effectively as informed global citizens, requires that we learn not only where these events are occurring, but also why they are taking place and how they will impact on our lives. Such considerations are the very essence of geography--a discipline whose study has unfortunately been sorely neglected at all levels of the American educational system for some time.
Last Updated: 9/10/12