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Natural resources are defined as the raw materials we use for cooking, housing, transportation, heating, etc. They even include the water we drink and the air we breathe. These can all be classified as either:
Perpetual resources, such as solar energy, wind and tides, last seemingly forever, at least in relation to our life span. Super-hot steam from deep underground is another example.
Nonrenewable resources, however, exist in limited amounts, and once they are used up, they cannot be replaced. An example would be fossil fuels such as oil, which are formed through natural processes that span millions of years. If all the oil were to be used up, there would be no more, at least not for millions of additional years. Likewise, selenium and cadmium used in batteries are nonrenewable resources, because there are limited amounts of those elements in the earth’s crust. Other nonrenewable resources such as copper were created billions of years ago during the explosion of giant stars. These types of nonrenewable resources are, therefore, not created through any known, natural process here on earth. Should we run out of these kinds of metals, we could only get them from mining on the moon or other planets.
Renewable resources are materials that can be replenished through natural and/or human processes. For example, even though trees die naturally or are harvested by lumber companies, new trees are re-seeded by nature or planted by people. Another example is livestock. Although Americans consume large amounts of chicken and beef products, new chickens and cows are being raised to maintain the supply. Renewable resources need to be carefully managed. Species of animals may be hunted so extensively that there is no chance for renewal to occur. In addition, grasslands may become overgrazed to the point where the soil loses its ability to support plant life and prevent erosion. Groundwater supplies may be pumped out of the ground faster than precipitation can replenish them. Just ask anyone with well water during a drought!
The maximum rate at which a renewable resource can be used without reducing the capacity of the resource to renew itself is called sustainable yield. This is an especially important equation for the lumber industry, because it means calculating how many trees can be harvested without destroying the forest’s ability to produce replacement trees.
Categories of Natural Resources
1. On earth, there are only limited amounts of fossil fuels, such as coal, oil and natural gas. There are also only limited amounts of minerals, such as iron, copper and bauxite. These resources either cannot be replaced by natural processes or require millions of years to replenish. These are called nonrenewable resources.
2. Some renewable and nonrenewable resources can be recycled or reused. This process decreases the rate at which the supplies of these resources are depleted. For example, aluminum cans can be recycled and turned into “new” cans or other aluminum products many times over. Recycling reduces the need to mine bauxite, the mineral used to manufacture aluminum.
3. Renewable natural resources include plants, animals and water when they are properly cared for. Minerals and fossil fuels such as coal and oil are examples of nonrenewable natural resources.
4. Trees, wildlife, water and many other natural resources are replaced by natural processes. Plants and animals can also be replenished by human activities. Water is continuously cycled and reused. Sunlight, wind, geothermal heat, tides and flowing water are perpetual resources.
Most communities in
The Importance of Recycling and Reuse of Resources
When we recycle or reuse natural resources, we decrease the demand on the resources and also save energy. For example, when we recycle aluminum cans, less bauxite needs to be mined to create “new” aluminum cans.
In summary, whether we use wood for houses, aluminum for airplanes, electricity to light our homes or water to quench our thirst, the choices we make every day to use renewable and nonrenewable resources to meet our needs has an impact on the global environment. Decisions to recycle whenever possible and to develop new recycling technologies can extend the availability of nonrenewable resources.
Benefits of Buying Recycled Products
Recycling is working! The proof is that the paper, plastic, metal, and glass that you've been recycling is now being made into all sorts of everyday products and packages. There's just one thing left to do: Buy them!
That's the "cycle" in recycling: You sort out recyclable materials, your city or town collects them, and manufacturers buy them to make into products again. By selecting those products when you shop, you can spur companies to use more recycled materials and keep the ball rolling. So look for products made from recycled materials, and buy them.
Save Natural Resources
By making products from recycled materials instead of virgin materials, we reduce the need to cut down trees, drill for oil, and dig for minerals.
It usually takes less energy to make recycled products: recycled aluminum, for example, takes 95% less energy to make than new aluminum from bauxite ore.
Save Clean Air and Water
In most cases, making products from recycled materials creates less air pollution and water pollution than making products from virgin materials.
Save Landfill Space
When the materials that you recycle go into new products, they don't go into landfills or incinerators, so scarce landfill space is conserved.
Money and Create Jobs
The recycling process creates far more jobs than landfills or incinerators, and recycling can frequently be the least expensive waste management method for cities and towns.
Buying Recycled Packaging
These four types of packaging can always be counted on to have a high percentage of post-consumer recycled content, even though many such packages are not yet labeled.
About 50% of the aluminum in beverage cans comes from used cans that were recycled and melted to make new cans.
Bottles & jar
Nearly 25% of the glass in bottles and jars has been used before, recycled, and remanufactured.
So-called "tin" cans are actually made of steel, usually with a thin coating of tin. About 25% of the content is recycled steel, half of that being post-consumer.
Gray or brown cardboard egg cartons, fruit trays, and flower pots are made from recycled paper that is re-pulped and reshaped.
Americans use an incredible amount of water
every day. A toilet averages six gallons of water with every flush, and a big
load of laundry requires at least 35 gallons of water. Americans directly
consume 36 billion gallons of water a day. In addition, water used by industry,
utility companies and agriculture (including livestock) brings the total used
every year in the
Only about .003 percent of the Earth’s water is available for use. The rest is either saltwater, locked up in polar ice caps or located too deep in the ground to retrieve. If 26 gallons represented the entire world’s supply of water, then our usable supply of fresh water would be one-half teaspoon. Although natural systems can continually recycle this fresh water, the rate at which we use water is a growing concern.
Much of the water we use every day is
groundwater that fills the spaces between rocks and soil particles beneath the
ground. The biggest source of groundwater is rain and snow that has seeped down
into the soil. This trickle-down process takes time, however, as deep
groundwater supplies may require hundreds of years to be replenished. In many
areas of the
Through dams, reservoirs and wells, people constantly try to increase the availability of fresh water. If everyone made an effort to conserve water by making a few changes in their daily routines, huge amounts of water could be saved. For example, if people made small adjustments to their daily routine such as installing a water-saving showerhead or faucet and turning off the water while they shave or brush their teeth, each person could save 7,000 - 10,000 gallons a year.
Community Water Use
1. Thermoelectric Utilities
187 billion gallons/day
137 billion gallons/day
3. Public Water Supply
36 billion gallons/day
26 billion gallons/day
5. Rural and Livestock
8 billion gallons/day
394 billion gallons/day
Personal Water Use
1. flushing the toilet
2. taking a shower
3. taking a bath
4. washing clothes
5. washing dishes (machine)
6. brushing teeth
7. washing hands
8. watering the lawn
There are many sources of free information about conservation available in your community including the library, local recycling center and your utility company. Many utility companies also have special money saving programs including, classes, free or reduced costs low-flow faucet aerators and shower heads, compact fluorescent bulbs, and low cost loans for replacing outdated heating and cooling systems, water heaters, windows and installing installation.
Aerate Your Faucets
The normal faucet flow is 2-5 gallons of water per minute. By attaching a low-flow aerator, you can reduce the flow by 50%. Incredibly, although the flow is drastically reduced, it will seem stronger because air is mixed into the water as it leaves the rap. Installing low-flow aerators on kitchen and bathroom faucets as well as using low-flow shower heads will save hot water. It will also cut water use by 300 gallons per month or more for a typical family of 4.
Don’t Let the Water Run
The average household can save up to 20,000 gallons of water each year by shutting off the water while brushing their teeth, shaving or washing dishes.
The Greenhouse Effect
The ‘greenhouse effect’ when functioning normally keeps our planet warm. Natural gases in the atmosphere form a blanket which allows sunlight to reach the earth’s surface, but prevents heat from escaping (much like the glass in a greenhouse). This gas blanket traps heat close to the surface and warms the atmosphere. A majority of this greenhouse effect is natural, maintaining Earth's average temperature at about 60o F. Without the natural greenhouse effect, Earth's average temperature would be about 0o F
The Greenhouse Gases
· Ozone. Is an invisible layer of gas in the atmosphere that shields the earth from ultraviolet radiation. While it plays an important role in sustaining life on the earth an increase comes from ground-based pollution caused by motor vehicles, power plants and oil refineries.
The atmospheric concentrations of several greenhouse gases are rising as a result of human activity. Carbon dioxide, the most important human-made greenhouse gas, is released primarily by the burning of fossil fuels like coal, oil, and natural gas. Its concentration has risen by nearly 30% over its value in pre-industrial times. Concentrations of other greenhouse gases have also risen; methane levels have more than doubled and nitrous oxide levels are increasing as well.
There is a worldwide consensus among climate scientists that global average temperature will rise over the next 100 years if the release of greenhouse gases from human activity continues to grow. Assessments by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) project that Earth could experience the fastest warming in the history of civilization during the 21st century. Specifically, according to the IPCC, Earth may warm by 1.8oF to 6.3oF by the end of the next century, potentially making it warmer than at any time since the evolution of modern humans.
Such a global
temperature rise would be associated with significant climate change. The
difference in global average temperature between modern times and the last ice
age -- when much of
Aluminum cans are easily recyclable. Some states including
Aluminum is the most abundant metal on earth, but it was only discovered in the 1820s. At that time it was worth more than gold. The first aluminum beverage can appeared in 1963 and today accounts for the largest single use of aluminum. In1985 more than 70 billion beverage cans were used, of which almost 66 billion were aluminum.
Some interesting fact about aluminum:
Auto manufacturers recommend that we change the oil in our cars every 3,000-5,000 miles. But they don’t tell us what to do with the old orders. Used motor oil also contains toxins picked up by flowing through your engine.
Things you can do with used oil:
What happens to used oil?
1. What options would we have if we used up a non-renewable resource? ______________________________
2. What does the term “sustainable yield” mean? ___________________________________________________
3. Why is sustainable yield important to the
4. What are the five benefits of buying recycled products? __________________________________________,
5. Use the “Personal Water Use” chart on page 3 to estimate the number of gallons of water you might use in an average week: ___________________________gallons.
6. Which of the following is a good and easy way to conserve water in the home?
A. Install low-flow aerators on the faucets
B. Install low-flow heads in the showers
C. Turn off the faucet while your are shaving and brushing your teeth
D. All of the above
7. What are ‘greenhouse gases’?
A. An alternative fuel source for automobiles
B. Chemical compounds in the earth’s atmosphere that prevent heat from escaping
C. The gases that are produced by plants grown in a greenhouse
D. None of the above
9. What is Ozone?
A. An invisible layer of gas in the atmosphere that shields the earth from ultraviolet radiation
B. A byproduct of water purification
C. A new energy drink from the Pepsi Cola company
region of central
7. What is the proper way to dispose of used motor oil?
A. Pour it into the sewer or down your sink so it can be properly processed
B. Collect it in a sealed container and put it out with your recycling, bring it to a recycling center or to a Quick Lube so it can be reprocessed
C. Collect it in a sealed container and throw it away with your trash
D. Collect the oil in a shallow pan, set it outside and allow it to evaporate over time
8. Classify each of the following resources as renewable (R), nonrenewable (N) or perpetual (P).
a. field of corn ______ g. tuna in the ocean ______
in the Arctic tundra ______ h. gold mines in the western
in the Appalachian Mountains ______ i.
d. sunshine everywhere ______ j. sand on a seashore ______
f. trees in a forest ______ l. a salmon in a stream ______