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Autor: anton 06 November 2010
Words: 650 | Pages: 3
Human activity has major effects on geography. When studying the earth you can come to several conclusions about the geography of any particular civilization. Distribution of life in the civilization allows you to analyze whether their geography is their own destiny. Do people control their own destiny? Is geography something that people can control? Technology is really the key to why geography can be overcome by any people.
Throughout the history of the earth we have seen many countries leave their homeland. Most of these countries however, are those that are not landlocked. Countries which were not landlocked organized themselves and set sail for new territories to explore. Boat technology allowed for travel, resulting in the whole world becoming more accessible and allowing people to overcome what was thought to be indestructible geography. Obviously access to the sea lowers transport costs and aids economic growth. Yet this mattered less in earlier centuries. Even in some ancient civilizations, they learned to overcome the problem of not having technology. The original silk route from China to Europe used the camel rather than the ship. Only when ship design became advanced from the 15th century onwards did sea-borne trade gain centre-stage.
India and China however, were landlocked and were by far the greatest industrial powers in the world till the Industrial revolution. Technology, not geography, helped temperate agriculture and industry to zoom ahead. One way a country overcomes geographical isolation is to improve its transportation infrastructure. Better roads, ports, paths, and other modes of transport provide access to world markets. But a country can only derive full benefits from these investments against a backdrop of good trade and macroeconomic policies. Consequently this leads to the belief that people again control the thought of their own geography.
Note that Europeans migrated in enormous numbers to warmer climates from the 17th century onwards. However these warmer climates were not always easy to live in. The conditions that a person living in a tropical climate would put up with were far greater than those who live in the subtropics. Global warming has been a huge concern in the entire world. In The Wealth and Poverty of Nations, David S. Landes argues that Europe's temperate climate encouraged hard work and capitalist development, while the heat of the tropics brought reliance on slaves.
The communications revolution has shrunk distances. Bangalore, currently the software capital of India with Hyderabad a close second, has proven that landlocked countries can do just as well and that overcoming geography can happen. Both are land-locked cities, but satellite communications enable them to link up with cities anywhere in the world at low cost. As a result, technology has made it possible to conquer geography. Provided a country has a desire to expand and creates good infrastructure, geography will not matter.
Apart from good policy, technology can make geography irrelevant. Through most of history, high-temperature areas were dusty and difficult to work in. But air-conditioning has in the last 50 years transformed working conditions in the tropics. In the USA, the massive shift of the economy and population from New York to California and Texas would not have been possible without air-conditioning.
But while geography matters, it does not compel, any more than a child's genetic endowment determines the course of his future development. Geographical conditions do not translate into predictable outcomes. For example, some countries with relatively high living standards are located in tropical areas; a good example is Costa Rica. Conversely, there are poor countries located in the geographically favored temperate zones.
Technology allows people to make choices. They are not limited by the means of the land they live on. If people don't like where they live, they have two options. First, they can move. They can go from places that are too dry, too remote, too disease-ridden, too infertile or too crowded, to a new place where the grass seems greener.
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