At present, and for many generations yet, we are still the creatures and subjects of geography; the oceans and great mountain chains condition our lives. They determine habitats, which again determine the human type best adapted to live for the greater part of its life in this or that region. Every kind of us, dark or fair, thick-set or slender, black or buff, has its own distinctive best place in which to rear its children and work and rest. It may roam the earth as it will, but only in certain regions is it altogether at home. No type is at home everywhere. There is no universal man. A universal type of man would be possible only on a flat and uniform earth. There is a necessary variety in humanity which no one now desires to diminish.
But the question the modern geographer puts to us is whether there is not a classification of habitats possible into very desirable, desirable, undesirable, and inimical, and whether a certain modification of the planet-levels operating in conjunction with the restoration of forests now in progress would not greatly increase the desirable habitats, by a redistribution of rainfall, a change in the fall of the surface waters, protection from winds and so forth. A not very considerable rise in the Appennines, for instance, would bring them up to the permanent snow-line and change the character of the entire Italian peninsula. And an increase in desirable habitats may bring with it an increase in the variety of desirable human types.
Yesterday this sort of thing was called “chimerical,” to-day it is impracticable and unnecessary, because of the volcanic forces that might be released. So for the present the geogonist, like the geneticist, must content himself with dreams—in his case dreams of moulding a fire-spouting, quivering planet closer to the expanding needs of man. His turn to remodel the world will come perhaps in a thousand years or so. There is plenty of time for that.