PHYSICAL GEOGRAPHY AND BIOGEOGRAPHY
The earth is rude, silent, incomprehensible at first, . . . Be not discouraged, keep on. . . . .
THE interest and importance of physical geography is not, as a rule, doubted by the non-geographer to whom it seems an obvious and necessary part of the subject. Nor dare the geographer of any school of thought deny its relevance. Yet, academically speaking, it has become something of a cinderella in Britain and America for reasons not difficult to imagine, but impossible to excuse. The necessary scientific background of the subject tends to render it difficult and unfamiliar if not "arid" to the humanist. Since it would plainly be absurd to seek to dispense with it altogether, the line of least resistance for those inclined to such a view is to reduce it to its very simplest terms and to regard it as basic or preliminary training which may be "got through and left behind." Such simple essence may be deemed to comprise the descriptive study of relief and of climate, as represented by monthly mean figures of temperature and rainfall. It requires no great intellectual effort on the part of geographers or non-geographers to compass a physical geography so limited. It is only when we begin to increase the precision and the detail of our geographical picture that physical geography becomes in the best sense "technical" and its study in any sense a discipline.
Physical geography is, in a sense, better organized than its human or social counterpart because it rests upon specialist sciences like geology and meteorology which had made great progress before the aims of modern geography were formu-