What is environmental geography?

Geography is a well established discipline and it has historically been focused on two main branches: human (urban, political, transportation, health to name a few) and physical(hydrology, climatology, glaciology to name a few). In the early to middle of the 20th century geography had more areas of inquiry emerged, they are: regional and Geographic Information Systems, or GIS.

However in the later portion of 20th century, there was an emergence of a new branch of geographic inquiry. With these intertwining of research from all the branches of geography created a new branch. This new branch is referred as environmental geography, or its other name is integrated geography. To define this new branch of geography: it is to describe the positive/negative feedbacks and other phenomena between humans, human-built environments and natural environments with a defined scale over a spatio-temporal structure.


Environmental Geography

Environmental geography can include all these topics from the image above. Additionally, it is how human activities over time have effected nature and then how nature has responded back on past and current human activities.

What human activities that is effecting nature:

  • Land use and change
  • Damming of rivers
  • Pollution of air, soil and water
  • Greenhouse gas emissions
  • Urbanization

What has changed with nature from human activity that is now effecting humans:

  • Climate change
  • Rising sea level
  • Eutrophication of rivers, lakes and oceans
  • Forest fires
  • Stronger storms like hurricanes, tornadoes, typhoons
  • Droughts

Literature is thin on this topic based on search results via Google Scholar, as of Jan 1 2014; for “integrated geography” has only 250 articles and “environmental geography” has 3,520 articles; versus “human geography” or “physical geography” which both have over 100,000. By all means using Google Scholar is not the best option; but if you do not have access to academic scholarly databases, it is the closest means of having the most options to get scholarly research papers.

(this was post original on july 27, 2013–cleaned it up and added more to it)


2 thoughts on “What is environmental geography?

  1. Syndroms of global change
    Being a student of geo-ecology for quite a while, a small course of studies that taught in Germany only at a view universities and is quite similar to what you discribe as Integrated Geography, I found your blog-post quite interesting.
    I would like too make you aware of a handy concept developed by Hans-Joachim Schellnhuber et al. (http://www.pik-potsdam.de/~luedeke/lit/gaia97.pdf):
    The Syndroms of Global Change
    examples would be
    the Aral Sea Syndrom — damage of landscapes as a result of large scale projects
    the Dust Bowl Syndrom — non-sustainable agro-industrial use of soils an bodies of water
    What do you think about it? Do you already know it?

    • Yes, I have read about the Aral Sea and Dust Bowl issues about the effects from anthropogenic processes and the feedback it has had on the environment over time. I have seen and looked at Dr Schellnhuber’s work.

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