Smog over a city

Our Planet Pleads: Invest in Geography

In a world where environmental issues including climate change and global warming are rarely out of the news, where population increases and the continued pursuit of fossil fuels create endless stress and strain on our planet, it’s understandable to see why Michael Palin once said that “geography students hold the key to the world’s problems.”

The prospects for geography students at university certainly hold promise for their future employability; a study of graduate unemployment rates six months after graduation by the Higher Education Careers Services Unit charity showed that geography, along with psychology graduates, were least likely to be unemployed.

Studying geography equips young people with a wide range of transferable skills which employers are keen to see: skills in numeracy, teamwork and project work gained through field trips, applied analytical and research skills and the ability to use a variety of computing applications. In an economically and environmentally challenged world, the diverse disciplines of ‘soft’ social sciences of human geography blend with the ‘hard’ sciences of physical geography, to give students a unique overview of the complexities facing our planet and its inhabitants. The subject brings an awareness of how to navigate socio-cultural differences required to address global issues and gain an understanding of natural disasters and their possible prevention.

We need our young people to pursue studies in geographical sciences and to carry their passions into the industry of the future.

This also means we require increased private and public sector investment in geographical science research and application; the creation of jobs which will improve the future for our planet and its inhabitants. If we consider natural disasters alone, specifically studies on storm and flood disasters, according to the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters, the amount of incidents have risen by 7.4 percent annually in recent decades.

Not that we need to be reminded, of course. In 2014, the UK suffered its worst rainfall in at least 248 years. Thousands of homes across the country were flooded, culminating in an estimated more than £1.1bn of damage. This could be the start of things to come – with the Met Office predicting that global warming could mean heavy summer downpours are five times more likely by the end of the century. Perhaps now, more than ever, our planet pleads – invest in geography.

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