Human geography is that branch of Geography which is concerned with the spatial differences and organisation of human activity and its inter-relationships with physical environment. Human geography is separate from physical geography and economic geography. It studies topics like man and his habitat, environmentalism, possiblism, world population, structure of population, migration, world society, culture races, languages, religions and settlements.
Man and His Habitat:
Habitat is defined as an eco-system in which animals and plants grow in a natural environment. Presently earth is the only habitat of man on which he is living in different types of eco-systems and climates. The climatic regions vary from extremely cold areas with temperature below freezing point and hot dry deserts which have scanty rainfall. Since the cave age man has not only perfected his skills and knowledge but also has succeeded in improving his habitats according to his needs. In the modern age, we can witness human beings living and working comfortably in all types of regions such as ice-capped polar areas, difficult mountains, valleys, islands, thick forests, deserts, plateaus and plains. Thus it can be said that modern man has succeeded in harnessing forces of nature.
Environmentalism is the concern that the environment should be protected from the harmful effects of human activities. Modern scientific research has proved beyond any doubt that factories emit greenhouse gases such as Carbon Dioxide, Carbon monoxide and N2O which pollute air. These gases also cause global warming through greenhouse effect. The rising temperature of the land and ocean masses has resulted in climate changes including rapid melting of glaciers and increase in rainfall. Similarly the poisonous gases emitted by motor vehicles are also a major source of pollution of air in urban areas. The industrial wastes are busy in contaminating water thus threatening the supply of pure drinking water.
Environmentalists say that the human activities should be controlled to keep air, water and soil free from contamination. According to O. Riordan, there are two types of environmentalism viz. Ecocentrism and Technocentrism. The ecocentrism calls for distribution of power toward decentralized federal economy with more emphasis on informal socio-economic interactions and participatory justice. The technocentrism believes in retention of the status quo in the existing structure of economic and political power but it demands more reponsiveness and accountability in political regulatory planning and educational institutions. There are four major forms of environmentalism.
1. Gaianism: It is the faith in the rights of nature and of the essential need for coevolution of human natural ethics.
2. Communalism: It is the belief in the cooperative capabilities of societies to establish independent self-reliant communities based on renewable resource-use and appropriate technologies.
3. Accomodation: It is the faith in adaptability of existing institutions and approaches to the assessment to accommodate environmental demands.
4. Technocentrism: It is the belief in the application of science-market forces and managerial ingenuity to intervene in nature to create economic growth and overcome environmental problems.