That man’s survival on the earth depends largely on geographical factors has been recognized since time immemorial. Without air and water which surround the earth, as well as food which can be derived from various sources in the world, the existence of life is indeed hard to conceive.
The realization that life is dependent on geographical elements has led to an intensive study of Geography. Men who are engaged in the production of food are continuing their studies of the water, soils and other factors which are essential for the growth of crops and livestock. Such studies are continuing to yield useful results. It has come to be known that all plants and animals do not require the same conditions for survival, and that a plant or an animal that perishes under certain conditions in one area could thrive in a different environment. In other words, different plants and animals draw their nourishment from different sources of the world. This knowledge has enabled producers of food to make the best use of their resources. No longer do they attempt to grow crops or livestock in areas which are known to be unsuitable for the purpose.
Geographical studies have also revealed new sources of power. The discovery of coal and mineral oil has revolutionized the lives of men in all parts of the world. Coal and mineral oil are used to operate machinery for the production of goods, for incineration and illuminations, as well as for propulsion. Many streets in all the towns in the world are illuminated by oil lamps; aeroplanes are propelled by mineral oil, and locomotives require either coal or mineral oil for propulsion. Indeed, coal and mineral are used for a diversity of purposes today.
The discovery of other minerals too such as iron one, has made a great contribution to the service of man. Iron is used for the construction of bridges and buildings, for the manufacture of motor vehicles and other means of transport, which are completely changed the social habits of men and for numerous other purposes. The discoveries and inventions of the modern age have increased men’s leisure and comfort. Men no longer have to walk long distances to attend to their business. Fast running vehicles enable them to reach their places of work with ease and speed. All this is the result of the studies of Geography, to a great extent. In brief, modern civilization is the product of the industrial developments that have taken place since the time men learned to exploit the mineral resources of the earth.
The advantages that men have derived from the use of the natural resources of the world have served as an incentive to deeper studies in Geography. More and more discoveries are being made by geographers and each discovery is adding substantially to the progress of the human race. Geographers are even exploring the depths of the oceans, in their eagerness to make new contributions to knowledge and social progress, and they have achieved a great measure of success. Thus, it must be admitted that “Studies of Geography can make a great contribution to the service of man””