This book is a collection of short stories that strive to explain the role of geography in understanding how we got to where we are now and where we are going. These stories are, of course, our take on geography, and many others would not agree with this selection. Some people have said to us ‘you should have included...’, ‘what about...?’, ‘I can’t believe you did not consider...’. As we have acknowledged, geographers make mistakes, and we will have made some too. If you are reading this book not in 2016 but a few decades in the future, you may be amazed at what we missed out and you will be puzzled or amused by what we included. You may also struggle to understand why so much that seemed so important to us today was not quite what we should have been concentrating on. We know we won’t be looking at exactly the right things, but we also know that we now look at the world very differently from the way in which most geographers just a generation before us did. The academic subject of geography is changing as the planet changes.
Map: Shipping Routes
This map of the world has been resized to represent where humans currently live on earth by giving each person equal prominence. China and India with their populations of 1.382 billion and 1.326 billion respectively dominate. The largest cities can be seen, and deserts and the polar north almost disappear. This map also shows how the world is connected via the shipping lanes, flight lanes and underwater cables that carry most of the trade that drives the global economy. The route of MSC Oscar’s first voyage from Dalian, China, to Rotterdam, Netherlands, via Tanjung Pelepas, Malaysia and the Suez Canal is shown. This journey took 36 days, with the ship passing close by nearly half the planet’s human population in that short time.