[Location: Geography Corner Briefing Room]

Storm: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. I would like to thank you for coming out for the inagural press conference introducing the Geography Corner to the public. You’ve all read the statement issued in the first post, and now I would like to take any questions you may have.

Tall blond guy: Bob White, with the Aberdeen Times. I think the first thing on all of our minds, Storm, is why geography, and why now?

Storm: Thank you for the question, Bob. The answer to both parts of your question is this: with all of the problems our world is facing today, from global warming to terrorism to unfair trade agreements to natural disasters, geography and geographers can play a key role in understanding those issues and working to find solutions. It’s just that no one ever asks us, so we feel kinda left out and get a chip on our shoulders because everyone thinks geography is all about state capitals and mineral exports and stuff when we know deep in our hearts how important geography really is. And then these studies come out from National Geographic that 2/3 of college-age Americans can’t find Iraq on a world map, and 1/3 can’t find Louisiana on a map of the U.S., and you think, are we dumb or what?

Short brunette woman: Lisa Blanca, Hells Canyon Journal. Can you tell us exactly what geography is? I only ever took one class in it and it was the most boring part of my high school years.

Storm: Well, Lisa, geography can be defined one of two ways: the relationship between humans and the environment, or the spatial distribution of phenomena over the earth’s surface.

Short bald man: Mark Byeli, Lyon County Reporter. It sounds to me like you’re talking about environmental studies.

Bob: And spatial relationships are used in fields from epidemiology to migration studies to glaciology. I don’t see what makes geography so special.

Storm: Look, you have no problem identifying what history is, right? [Reporters nod.] And history is a part of a lot of other fields and still retains its own identity. Maybe the best thing to do is to quote Jack Dangermond, founder and head of ESRI, who explains that geography answers three questions: What is where? Why is it there? Why should I care?

Tall blond woman: Renee Weiss, Merrimack Journal. So you’re saying it’s not just a matter of knowing where Iraq or New Orleans are on the map, but why they are where they are?

Storm: Exactly. Why was this country cobbled together in the early 20th Century, and how does that explain why it’s so f–ed up today? Why was this city placed at sea level, and how has the landscape been altered to keep it there? And I think the “why should I care?” is pretty obvious for both of those.

Lisa: So you’re saying that by having a better understanding of the spatial relationships between places, we can better understand the processes that are shaping our world, and maybe how to alter those processes to make the world a better place.

Storm [beaming]: Yes, that’s exactly it.

Lisa: I would have taken more geography classes if I’d known it was so interesting.

Storm: My favorite example is something one of my college professors did. Before class one day, he was hanging one of those old roll-up maps of the U.S. over the chalkboard, but he hung it upside down. Finally someone pointed it out, and he pretended to be startled, then said, “Okay, but what if this was what North America looked like? What if the people who came over from the Bering Strait encountered not range after range of mountains, but the plains and low hills of the East? And what if the Europeans encountered not forested hills and river valleys, but the Sierra Nevada and the Western deserts? How different would the history of the U.S. and the world be?”

Bob: Wow, that would be a lot different. The Pilgrims wouldn’t have lasted a year.

Mark: But the Europeans might have discovered gold right away–

Renee: Yeah, but there would have been a much larger Native population to face–

Lisa: And what about the Caribbean Islands, and the Spanish…

Storm: My work here is done.