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Michael Evans

Resource refers to everything in the natural environment around us that we are able to use in some way. Food is a resource – it gives our bodies the energy to live. We use resources such as iron and oil to make a car and we use mineral resources to provide the energy to drive it. Energy exists in many of the resources we use and we have exploited the Earth’s resources by using this energy. For this reason, control over the use of Resources is needed, to ensure that we always have enough for the future. This handling of the resources is called Resource Management. RESOURCE MANAGEMENT is a way of making a resource either renewable or sustainable (to be used forever) and if this can’t be accomplished, then to restrain the use of non-renewable resources. The main reasons we need RESOURCE MANAGEMENT are population increase, the previous wasting of resources, population demands and to conserve for the future.

Resource Managment - Will the environment run out of material for Industry to survive?

Humans have always needed energy. Food is one source of energy, directly available to humans. Agriculture is the science of growing food and has allowed humans to develop large, complex civilisations. Obviously, food is a very important resource to humans. However, through peoples struggle to gain more land for farming, other resources have been exploited. The land upon which the crops are planted is a resource and may once have been covered by forests, another resource. Soil has been made over hundreds of years, from weathered rocks and decayed plants and animals. But through bad management it can only take a few years to drain a soil of its minerals. If people cut down too many trees, wind and rain erode the soil and wash it to sea. Fertilisers and pesticides can poison the soil and undermine its structure making it unsuitable for future crops. In some regions, people burn natural fertilisers, such as crop remains and animal dung, as fuel and so reduce the soil’s fertility. But people have found various successful ways of using the soil. By terracing steep hillsides and using watering methods that release nutrients trapped deep inside the soil, people can manage soil in such a way that it can sustain vast numbers of people. And since the population of the earth is continually growing, this management is crucial. All countries must find the limits of this great resource and not exceed its limits.

The topic of Land clearing leads onto the management of forests and Biodiversity. When early humans discovered fire, they also discovered a way of releasing heat energy. They did this by burning wood and the forests have been cut down ever since to provide fuel. Biodiversity describes the huge variety of living things on Earth. It is a resource made up of all plants and animals and their genetic material, as well as the ecosystems of which they are part. They need as much management as any other resource. Biodiversity includes crops and forests and provides (especially in developed countries) building materials for wood and fuel from plant material and animal waste. Recently scientists have found ways of using genes from plants and animals to make medicines and drugs; but most of this natural diversity is lost as people destroy whole habitats and ecosystems. Tropical forests, which hold up to 50% of all species on only 7% of the Earth’s surface are at risk. After seeing these figures, you can understand why they’re at risk, as it isn’t hard for man to completely destroy whole forests with fire and technology to make room for ever increasing (thus ever demanding) population. This is where resource management is needed. People and leaders of countries, must find ways to sustain forests – to only cut down trees needed for paper, furniture and building, so that forests can return to their full potential after time. Management of forests includes stopping complete destruction of forests through burning or careless logging. Forests have been described as “Lungs of our planet” and it will be explained why in the next paragraph.

The Lungs of our Planet, will they be left to live ?

The air we breathe is made up of gases including Nitrogen, Carbon Dioxide and Oxygen. Oxygen is the most important of these, as all animals need it to survive. People pollute the air with dangerous chemicals all the time. Some chemicals are from farming, others from industry. Before the Industrial revolution, the amount of Carbon Dioxide didn’t change much. However, since the Industrial Revolution, more Carbon Dioxide has been released into the atmosphere (from burning fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas). To make matters worse, trees cut down to supply paper and carpentry, or make room for farms, can no longer clean the air by changing Carbon Dioxide for Oxygen. It is easy to see the damage of air pollution in a place of no RESOURCE MANAGEMENT like Indonesia and Malaysia, where burning of forests has lead to widespread health problems. The extra Carbon Dioxide has caused an increase to the earth’s temperature and no one knows what the effects of Global Warming will be. In this example, Resource Management can have little direct effect on the atmosphere. However, by finding alternatives to using Carbon Dioxide releasing industry (which will be discussed in the next paragraph) and sustaining and regrowing forests, the air so vital to us can be cleaner and safer for our huge and growing population.

As was mentioned in the above paragraph, the burning of Fossil Fuels releases Carbon Dioxide and other dangerous gases and chemicals. These fuels present a few major problems when it comes to RESOURCE MANAGEMENT –
(1) They aren’t renewable;
(2) as a planet we’re dependant on them;
(3) when they are burnt / processed, they give off harmful substances (with the exception of natural gas).

Burning of fuels have made New York City what it is today - Unsightly.

These mineral resources are valued because of their ability to create energy and be used either directly or in the process of creating products. e.g. Coal heating furnaces in the creation of glass and pure metals. The main user of these Fossil Fuels are power stations. People in developed countries use a lot of power. In Canada each person uses the equivalent of 9 tonnes of coal, or 45 barrels of oil, a year; Americans use slightly less than this; Whereas people in countries such as India and Nicaragua use an average of one barrel per person a year. At this rate, some people believe we’ll run out of these fuels in the year 2050. However, with RESOURCE MANAGEMENT, things are slowly turning about, with some countries switching to renewable energy sources. Canada, Norway and many countries in South America and Africa use hydropower, while Denmark is investing in wind power. Alternative energy sources are less damaging to the environment, but a wind farm of hundreds of turbines can look very ugly.

Another resource “RESOURCE MANAGEMENT” is effecting is water. Water is essential to all life but only 3% of the water on Earth is fresh – and half of this is frozen as Glaciers. People use water for Industry and irrigating crops. If crops use too much water, the water table lowers. If too many trees are cut down, the table rises. Both of these conditions creates much environmental damage and damage to our crops. Water is especially precious in countries with very little rainfall. Desert countries like Libya depend on water in natural underground reservoirs, called aquifers. These sources of water are left over from thousands of years before the region was desert and will eventually be used up. Water is treated with little respect even though it is precious resource – people pollute it with everything from sewage to highly poisonous chemicals. However, With RESOURCE MANAGEMENT, we can conserve water and save it for further use. By planning farms carefully, salinity and other problems can be overcome. Using cleaner forms of Industry and power production can overcome destruction of this resource so precious to us. RESOURCE MANAGEMENT also includes changing peoples wasteful habits as no city has a never – ending water supply.

Hot sand and more of it, Here is where water is at its most precious.

Wherever people are they have to use resources and they continue to do so even though their use sometimes damages the environment. But if people plan and manage resources carefully, they can use them effectively and efficiently in a sustainable way.