Companion Encyclopedia of Geography: The Environment and Humankind

Companion Encyclopedia of Geography: The Environment and Humankind

Companion Encyclopedia of Geography: The Environment and Humankind

Companion Encyclopedia of Geography: The Environment and Humankind

Synopsis

The Companion Encyclopedia of Geography provides an authoritative and provocative source of reference for all those concerned with the earth and its people.

Excerpt

This encyclopedia sprung from a meeting in 1990 between Jonathan Price, then at Routledge, and Ian Douglas. Ian invited us to form an editorial team and we immediately set to work planning the structure of the volume. Routledge gave us carte blanche to express a personal view of geography. We decided to present the view that geography is, and at root always has been (despite excursions into spatial science and other exotic themas), about the interdependence of people and their environment, and about the evolving intercourse between humans and their earthly, and to a lesser extent celestial, habitat. Some geographers would doubtless choose to distance themselves from this view of geography, and would argue that the heart of geography lies elsewhere. That, it seems to us, is a healthy state of affairs. It reflects the rich diversity of the subject, the wide range of approaches it embraces, and the many and varied interests of its practitioners. However, we would claim that a large and growing number of geographers do focus on the people-and-environment theme; and that, in doing so, they bring different approaches to bear on the same fundamental issue of interrelationships between the human species and its habitat.

The contributors to the encyclopedia were alerted to, and asked to write within the spirit of, the editors’ view of geography. They were also encouraged, however, to employ a style more personal and discursive than is usual in encyclopedic works. Happily, we can report that our grand theme is evident in most of the chapters: many contributors take a global view of their subject and stress human-environment interdependencies.

The chapters are grouped into six parts. Part I focuses on the evolution of the earth through geological, and up to historical, time. It explains how earth became more differentiated by physical and biological transformations, how stores of mineral resources were built up in the process, how it was changed by the life-forms that it supported, and how in turn the evolving life-forms responded to the changing physical environment of the planet. It then considers the origins of the human species—whose activities eventually led to the first great

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