Global, Local & Regional Geography

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  • 0:03 What Is Geography?
  • 1:13 Local to Regional to Global
  • 3:42 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: David Wood

David has taught Honors Physics, AP Physics, IB Physics and general science courses. He has a Masters in Education, and a Bachelors in Physics.

Learn why geography looks at the world on local, regional, and global scales. Discover how connected the world is, and then measure the scale of your new knowledge with a quiz.

What Is Geography?

The world is a big place: a gigantic ball in space, orbiting around the sun. But in some ways, you could say that the earth is more like an onion than a ball because it has many layers. The earth contains lots of small pieces that make up the planet as a whole. Local weather patterns come together to form regional ones, which collectively form global currents and cycles. Local earthquakes are caused by the movements of gigantic tectonic plates that cover the whole of the earth's surface. The smallest things on earth are interconnected with the largest ones. And so studying geography means looking at all these levels.

Geography is the study of the physical features of the earth's surface and atmosphere and how those features are affected by natural and human effects. Geography also studies how humans are affected by the earth's surface.

In this lesson, we are going to discuss how geography involves looking at the earth on local levels, regional levels, and global levels - how everything fits together. By studying all three levels, geographers can fully understand how the world works.

Local to Regional to Global

Geography can easily be studied at the local level. It asks questions like: what is the local topography and how does it affect weather patterns? Or, how does a supermarket affect the local economy? Or, how did the river carve out the valley in which this town is found?

But as you study the answers these questions, you can't help but start to wonder about the region that surrounds that local area. The local weather patterns aren't just a product of what the local area is like but also what air currents enter the area from the surrounding region. The supermarket didn't just appear one day like magic in the town; it came because they saw a business opportunity, based on its experience in the wider region and success elsewhere. Maybe supermarkets just got a subsidy from the government, or maybe the population of this area is rising.

And it's all well and good studying how the river carved out the valley, but that river is affected by things outside of the local area, like the amount of rainfall near the river's source or the slope of the land leading into the local area. The local area also affects what happens to the river after it leaves into the wider region - the faster the water is allowed to flow through the town, the more erosion might happen further downstream as it approaches the sea.

Once you start to study regional geography, you quickly find that global geography becomes important, too. For example, how does the weather in the region relate to global air and water currents? Perhaps the area is warmed by the gulf stream or cooled by arctic winds. Or perhaps the local area is getting warmer because the whole world is, too.

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