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Chapter 12: Natural Resources

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Introduction

How important are natural resources to you?

Look around you. Wherever you happen to be and whatever you are doing, you're using natural resources. Since you're reading this you're probably on a screen attached to some sort of computer, which uses metals, plastics that come from fossil fuels, and many other materials. The computer is powered by electricity, which may come from a nearby coal or nuclear plant or possibly from solar panels on the roof of your house. One thing is certain, modern life requires lots of natural resources!

Chapter Outline

Chapter Summary

Summary

Natural resources, including energy resources, may be renewable or non-renewable. Non-renewable resources will not be replaced faster than they can be used up; when they're gone, they're gone. Renewable resources can be replaced as rapidly or more rapidly than they are used, so they can supply human activities forever. Fossil fuels are very popular non-renewable resources. Cheap, abundant fossil fuels have been responsible for the development of modern human society due to their impact in transportation, industrialization and agriculture. Nuclear energy is also non-renewable because the necessary element uranium is limited. Renewable resources tend to be clean, with less or even no pollution or greenhouse gas emissions, but they come with their own problems. Some are relatively expensive, hard to develop, or difficult to find locations for. Increasing demand for renewable resources increases the research going into them, so the technologies are improving and becoming less expensive. Still, there are some problems that may not be resolved except on a case-by-case basis, such as the siting of wind farms. The best and cheapest way to increase resource availability is conservation, which can be done by an individual, a family, an industry or a society.

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Date Created:

Feb 24, 2012

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Aug 27, 2014
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