Major Geography Themes
To examine major geography themes that relate to resource management and maintaining a sustainable environment.
In addition to the Five Basic Themes of Geography (location, nature of place, human-environment interaction, movement, and regions), there are other Major Geography themes that are critical to understand.

These Major Geography Themes will be especially important when you get to the Environments and People / Resource Management portion of the course. There, they serve as anchors of understanding of how to better manage the environment and lay a foundation for finding practical solutions to environmental problems. They can also be incorporated into appropriate test answers and may fit in very nicely into several government exam answers including the case study. 
Pollution knows no borders

Global Citizenship

- is part of the notion that human beings have responsibilities to one another and a responsibility to care for the global environment

- global citizenship implies an understanding of and sensitivity to the use and management of resources

- global citizenship emphasizes the theme that many environmental problems extend beyond individual political borders (eg ozone depletion, acid rain, depleting fish stocks) and hence cooperative action must be taken amongst peoples to bring about practical and positive changes

"Think Globally, Act Locally"

- Dr. David Bellamy

"We do not inherit the land...and the sea...from our forefathers. We borrow it from our children."

- Haida native quote

If you are going to have resource use regulations, make sure they are enforced with meaningful consequences for violations.

"Bottom Up" approach to resource management

i.e. empower the local people in managing resources rather than only a top down approach where a central government dictates a solution without consultation

When humans try to manipulate or control nature on a major scale, often major problems arise.

How to relate these themes to environmental issues?

Parts of California left in their natural state would be desert and unsuitable for large scale agriculture. However, the construction of mass irrigation schemes and diversion of water from rivers such as the Colorado river have allowed for an expanded agricultural industry. But this attempt to manipulate the natural environment on a grand scale has generated some major problems.
For instance, salts coming off the land get into the river water and when diverted onto the farm land increase the risk of salinization of the soil especially in an arid environment with rapid evaporation and crystallization of salts. A potential solution to this problem is to wash the salts down out of the soil with other fresh water. But this causes the water table below ground to rise and become salty. If that rising, salty, water table reaches the roots of the plants they could die. A solution to this would be to build drains to flush the excess salty water away from the farm land. This drain water must go somewhere though; back into the river. This becomes a concern for people downstream (i.e. in Mexico) as pollution knows no borders. This can be solved by building a desalinization plant to treat the salty water before it re-enters the river.
Imagine though the cost associated with each step mentioned above to try to solve the problems associated with this massive project. This drives up the cost of food production and is one of the reasons that the farm industry must be heavily subsidized (i.e. given financial assistance by the government) in order to continue to operate.

However, in parts of California as water supplies become more scarce and the competition for water increases amongst various user groups (i.e. agricultural vs. residential vs. industrial), some farms are having their water supply cut off forcing the land back into its natural state. It will be interesting to see how the state handles the need for future water supplies. Will there be further moves to cut back farm production? Will there be forced conservation measures for all user groups? Will there be renewed mass water diversion schemes? Will there be pressure on Canada to sell bulk water to the state?
In summary, the large scale water diversion projects in California have definitely benefited the economy of the state, yet over time they have generated some unforeseen and costly problems. Furthermore, there are questions about the long term sustainability of the activities they support.


Assignment Work
Pick two environmental issues that you are familiar with. For each issue, in one or two paragraphs relate three different Major Geography Themes to that issue. So in total you will have covered six of the seven Major Geography Themes. E-mail your response. This is worth a total of 10 marks. Also make sure that you print out a copy for yourself which goes in "The Nature of Geography" section of your notebook.
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