Sustainable Resources

Globalisation and an ever increasing world population has led to an increase in the demand for resources. Some of these are renewable, some are non-renewable and others are sustainable. For your GCSE, sustainability crops up throughout the course so you need to know some examples of sustainable resources and sustainable practices.

At a basic level, humans need food, clean water, shelter and clothing. Food and clean water are both renewable and sustainable resources. They will renew themselves without human intervention, however, in areas of high population, human intervention is required. Shelter and clothing can be made from sustainable and renewable resources. But once we start to use mineral resources such as metals and fossil fuels, then we are using non-renewable resources which will eventually run out.

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It may be possible to find sustainable alternatives e.g. biofuels instead of petrol or diesel to run vehicles, if not, then society will need to adapt. Alternative resources can be costly and take many decades to develop. If every person alive made an effort to use sustainable resources, or to use finite resources more efficiently, non-renewable resources would be used up more slowly.

Sustainability is difficult to manage as there are conflicting demands on the Earth's resources. The use of most resources has an impact on one of our primary resources - the environment e.g. air pollution from burning fossil fuels. The idea of sustainability demands that our use of resources should not harm the environment and also ensure that resources will be available for future generations, so that they can make and do the things that allows them to live a comfortable life. Many of these resources are located in LEDCs and they need to exploit them in order to develop. The temptation is to exploit them in an unsustainable way in order to gain MEDC status as soon as possible. There is a large imbalance in the way that resources are used - the richest twenty percent of humans use over eighty percent of resources, it would be better for the future if there was an improved balance between the use of resources in LEDCs and MEDCs.

Using sustainable practices can greatly help conserve resources like the environment. In some areas of Britain, the environment has been damaged by tourism. The numbers of visiting tourists harms the very place they have come to see, so the managers of these areas need to find ways of developing sustainable tourism. Ecotourism is a form of sustainable tourism which allows visitors to enjoy beauty spots without overdevelopment damaging the environment. Intensive agriculture, including the clearance of tropical rainforest to create large cattle ranches, is unsustainable. Farmers in the UK and elsewhere are being encouraged to follow sustainable farming practices in order to preserve plants and wildlife for the benefit of the planet and future generations of humans.

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  1. Which of the following is NOT an aim of the sustainable use of resources?
    Sustainability aims to protect the environment
  2. Which of the following resources is sustainable?
    A sustainable resource is a resource that can be managed so that it renews itself. Managing forests that provide timber is a good example of this
  3. Where in the world are the most resources consumed?
    People in richer countries have more money to spend on consumer items
  4. Our use of resources increases the volume of pollutants in the atmosphere. One of these is carbon dioxide. What is the name of the agreement signed by many international leaders committing their governments to find ways of reducing greenhouse gas emissions?
    The environment is our most precious resource, if we don't use it sustainably, the future of the human race could be in jeapordy
  5. A resource that does not require human management to renew itself is called:
    Be careful not to confuse renewable with sustainable
  6. In order to put across the ideas of sustainable use of resources, it is necessary to educate people. Why is this likely to be less effective in an LEDC?
    If a nation has poor literacy levels and under-developed communications networks, it is more difficult to reach a lot of people
  7. Farming methods that help to conserve local wildlife and plant life are referred to as:
    Organic farming is an example of a sustainable farming practice
  8. Which of the following activities can help towards sustainable resource use?
    This benefits the environment and reduces the demand for new raw materials
  9. Which of the following is an example of ecotourism?
    Increasing the number of visitors to any tourist destination is more likely to harm the environment
  10. Using which of the following energy resources is a sustainable practice?
    Our use of fossil fuels as a source of energy is not sustainable

Author: Kev Woodward

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