LONGENECKER: I work on hurricanes, I work
on earthquakes, I work on tornados and floods and a lot of other natural hazards. Geography
is really important because we have to have maps that communicate very quickly what happened.
I’m a senior physical scientist with Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA and my name
is Gene Longenecker. MASBACK: You’ve got to care about geography.
In the intelligence world, to understand that something happened is very exciting. But it
really isn’t valuable unless you understand where it happened. I’m the president of the
United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation and my name is Keith Masback.
FAYANJU: When I want to be, geography was very much a two dimensional subject. Now with
Google Earth, we can fly into a city. I’m an economic analyst at the Environment Defense
Fund. My name is Oluseyi Fayanju. LARSEN: Being an explorer is basically being
a geographer because you’re trying to understand what our world looks like. I am a polar explorer,
mountaineer and expedition guide. My name is Eric Larsen. For me, the crux, where
there so many things that can go wrong despite your best efforts. On an expedition, I really
rely heavily on a map to better understand where I’m traveling and knowing if I need
to get here, some of the obstacles that are in the way.
And that name, Seyi Fayanju of New Jersey is the 1996 National Geographic Bee champion.
Congratulations. FAYANJU: Studying geography, it makes you
more appreciative of the world as a whole and of being a global citizen. And if you
have from an early age been accustomed to thinking of yourself as a global citizen in
addition to an American citizen did not really gives you an advantage.
MASBACK: By simply understanding the physical geography, you have to truly embrace and understand
human geography as well. And that provides things like culture, history, religion, language,
ethnicity. LONGENECKER: Where hazard occurs and where
people happen to be is something that’s very important. We need to know if it’s a big earthquake
and it’s been shaking a lot. Did it shake a bunch of people? An earthquake that happens
on the desert doesn’t shake people. LARSEN: Once we’re on the expedition, from
the field I can send an email and sends out my blog post, a picture and my GPS position,
my latitude and longitude. And that goes right into a Google Earth layer that marks out on
the map. So, people can zoom in to Google Earth. They could see roar in Everest all
the way up to the summit. It allows us to be able to understand our planet and be connected
one another in a way which we’ve never been able to.
MASBACK: The highlight of my career was certainly what we did in support of the aftermath of
hurricanes Katrina and Rita. To take all these systems that we had built for national security
purposes and apply them to be able to guide the rescuers to their door in time to save
them was absolutely a wonderful, wonderful thing.
FAYANJU: When we think about the geography, it shouldn’t just be viewed in a vacuum as
like a childhood hobby that just sort of ends there. I think you really should look at it
as a path that can lead you in a lot of different great directions in terms of your career,
in terms of what you think of.