Global Connections: Geography for the 21st Century – CORBIN et al (CSS)

CORBIN, Barry; TRITES, John; TAYLOR, Jim. Global Connections: Geography for the 21st Century. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 2000. 442p. Resenha de: BOYD, Kenneth. Canadian Social Studies, v.38, n.2, p., 2004.

This textbook approaches the main threat and issues that the planet will face from a global geographic study perspective. Six concepts of geography are used to help the students learn to approach and analyze global issues. The book starts with justifying a geographic approach. It outlines the reasons why we should be studying geography. The area of geography plays an important role in deciding if our very survival is at risk. Geography also offers us the opportunity to study a wide range of topics. From this study we have a unique framework to examine global conditions and global issues.

Unit II examines the connections between humans and the physical world. It starts with the global village and the interdependence that is so important to the study of geography. Technology now brings people closer together, allowing them to communicate with each other almost instantaneously. By exposing things like sweatshop labour that produces clothing for the North American market we begin to see how we are interconnected. Dealing with subjects like education levels, economic development and standards of living also helps to make the North-South Gap more clear.

By looking at the Earth’s cycles and systems we begin to realize just how delicate the balance is on Earth. We come to realize the connection between the human world and the physical world. Unit III deals with the threats that are putting our planet at risk. While some of these originate in the physical world, the more serious ones come from humankind and the human abuses of the physical world. If we are to solve these problems we are going to need to understand how the problems developed. We must look at both the natural events and the processes that do pose risks for human life along with the human activities that pose threats to the planet. Natural hazards can quickly turn into natural disasters. One just has to look at things like the eruption of Mount Saint Helens in Washington State. One hundred years ago there was almost no human activity that could cause more than local damage to the Earth and the environment. Along came tremendous advances in our scientific and technical knowledge. Now we have global warming, ozone depletion, loss of biodiversity, forest destruction, desertification and introduced species. All these problems are global in nature and will require co-operation at the global level to overcome them.

Unit IV takes an in-depth look at the question of population in order to get a clearer idea of why the health of the planet is so closely tied to the health of its human population. With the rate of population increase we need to be looking at questions like what will be the outcome of such explosive growth? Population problems are among the most serious and pressing issues facing the world today. We see the need to collect information on the world’s population and utilize this data for analysis. Global Connections helps us to see how applying the numbers dealing with population will help us to understand more about the current state of the world’s population and what this information tells us about the Earth’s future. The concept of carrying capacity is dealt with by examining the trends of world population and the very serious consequences of overpopulation.

Can the Earth’s natural resources support the population and quality of life?
Unit V deals with global resources. It is resources that allow us to satisfy different human needs and wants. In this unit we look at the various ways humans have developed natural resources on both land and sea, as well as the methods of sustainable development that may hold the key to preserving these resources for future generations. The textbook addresses the impact of resource development, the impacts on the environment, and our need of an understanding of ecology (the science that studies the way organisms relate to one another and to their physical surroundings).

Unit VI deals with the global economy. This unit looks at the ways the economy influences people and their environment. It examines why economic conditions vary so widely in the different regions of the globe. Global Connections looks at the ways in which a country develops or fails to develop wealth by, for example, examining the Industrial Revolution and its impact around the world. Economic systems of the world and the spacial distribution of wealth around the planet are addressed. The topic of global trade is also examined. We see how the globalization of the world economy has shifted its geographical focus from the countries surrounding the Atlantic Ocean to those surrounding the Pacific Ocean. The impact that the increase in world trade has had on the environment is explored. There is a study of the act of buying and selling between nations of the world. Trade is one way in which nations can acquire the wealth necessary to develop their human and natural resources. Topics such as the Exxon Valdez oil disaster, NAFTA, the Group of 8 and multinational organizations are also addressed.

Unit VII deals with the subject of urbanization. It looks at the growth of the modern city and the ways in which this concentration of large numbers of people in relatively small areas has presented new challenges to the global environment. It is the city that is the breeding ground of much of society’s innovations and inventions and the driving force in economic development. More and more of the world’s population are living urban lifestyles. The concept of the mega-city is dealt with along with the push and pull factors influencing the migration of the world’s population to the cities.

Unit VIII looks at the heartening signs that are out there. The authors identify the positive steps and encouraging signs that give us cause for hope for the planet and our species. We examine how the actions of government and individuals can together make humankind’s occupation of earth a more sustainable enterprise. The world does have difficult problems to overcome but we do have reason to expect that we will overcome these problems. We see how education is key for achieving a better world. It is the means by which we tax the potential of the human brain. We see from one study how increasing the average education of a country’s labour force by one year will increase its GDP by nine per cent.

The text is well illustrated with colour. The pictures and examples used throughout the book are current and should appeal to students. Case studies, quick facts, student activities and web sites are clearly indicated by colourful icons along the borders. Overall I am highly impressed with Global Connections.

Kenneth Boyd – Rosetown Central High School. Rosetown, Saskatchewan.

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