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The 5 themes of geography Geographers must deal with vast volumes of data in many varied fields of study.

The five themes of geography were created in 1984 by the National Council for Geographic Education and the Associa tion of American Geographers. These 5 themes give geographers an effective way to categorize and organize geog raphic information and help create a framework for the teaching of geography. 1. Location This theme answers the question 'Where in the world is something located?' Location may be relative or absolute. Relative location would tell you approxima tely where a place is located. For instance, Victoria, BC is at the southeast tip of Vancouver Island. It is also a cross the Strait of Juan de Fuca from the city of Port Townsend, Washington. Absolute location gives the exact global position of Victoria in latitude and longitude. Your house address is the absolute location of where you live. 2. Place This theme asks, 'what is the place like'? There are no two places exactly the s ame in the world, each has its own unique characteristics. Both physical and human characteristics are included in this theme. Physical characteristics include landforms, vegetation, water, soil, climate and the animals that inhabit a place. By asking yourself questions such as... Is this place hilly or flat? Are there lakes and rivers nearby? Is it rainy or dry? Is the climate suited for agriculture? you will be able to paint a picture of the physical characteristics of a place. Human characteristics of a place include what people have done to change the pla ce by building homes and making a living. Questions to ask would be... Is this place urban or suburban in nature? What types of buildings are there? Are they largely residential or industrial? How do people make a living? Is there evidence of farming, fishing, forestry, in dustry? In Canada, forestry, mining and industry are important human activities that hav e left their mark on the landscape. 3. Human/Environmental Interaction The physical environment in all places creates challenges. People modify it for their advantage, often with negative impacts. Some ways people alter their physical environment are... We build shelters. The severity of the climate dictates what type of housing is required and whether homes must be heated or cooled. We divert water to our homes. Using water from a river for domestic and agricult ural use is a human adaptation to living in a certain area. If there are no rivers to supply water, we drill wells to tap into groundwater supplies. We build dikes to control the flood waters of rivers. In desert regions where the land is barren and void of natural vegetation, farme rs have adapted to the harsh climatic conditions by growing crops using irrigation systems. vi Introduction We have invented machines to move us, our manufactured products and the earth's resources great distances. Unfortunately, we burn fossil fuels for energy to power our transport sector, th ereby accelerating global warming.

Factories and power plants create beneficial goods and power to heat and light o ur homes but also create harmful air pollution. Poor air quality creates health problems and acid rain harms vegetati on, farm crops and aquatic life in lakes and streams. Farm fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides help crops to grow but excess amount s can pollute streams, lakes and groundwater and unintentionally kill plants and animals that come in contact wit h the poisons. We have the ability to treat sewage before it is released into local waterways. Home building on steep slopes removes vegetation and prevents water from seeping into the soil, often resulting in severe landslides. We can build retaining walls or plant vegetation to reduce th e possibility of damaging landslides. 4. Movement Today's technology has transformed movement into a web of global interaction. Th e ease and speed of travel today takes people to all parts of the world on business and pleasure. Resources and m anufactured goods also move easily around the world. Animals move to find food sources and migrate with the seasons . Birds that fly or swim can travel tremendous distances. But the scope of this theme is far more diverse than the l ocal and international movement of people, animals and goods around the global community. Wind patterns, ocean c urrents and tides, tectonic plate movement, landslides, lava flows and moving glaciers are all common movements of our dynamically active planet. These all fall under the geographic theme of movement. 5. Regions There are many different types of regions but in the study of physical geography , mountain ranges, biomes such as world deserts or rain forests, and specific climate types are a few that come to mind. Agricultural regions are often defined by a specific crop that is grown. For instance, the Wheat Belt region is an area of North America where much of the wheat is grown. Studying regions allows geographers to better understand how humans have adapted to living in varied conditions around the world. Planetary sphere interactions In this book you will study the different spheres of the environment - lithosphe re, hydrosphere, atmosphere and biosphere as separate components, but in reality these spheres interact with one another continuously. When studying sphere interactions, we focus on both the interactions that occur naturally and the human interactions within the 4 spheres. As the world population grows and our technology becomes ever more soph isticated, the human impact and control of the planetary environment increases. Humans attempt to control and ch ange the environment to meet their needs. Often the consequences arising from our planetary sphere interactions tur n out to be disastrous. The diagram on the next page shows some simple planetary natural interactions oc curring between the 4 spheres. Remember that people are considered part of the biosphere. Some examples of huma n interactions within their own sphere and with the three other spheres are listed on the opposite page.