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Introduction to Geography People, Places, and Environment, 6e Carl Dahlman William H. Renwick. Chapter 5: Earth’s Resources and Environmental Protection Holly Barcus, Morehead State University And Joe Naumann, UMSL. Resources. Click on the animation below to see the video on resources.

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Introduction to GeographyPeople, Places, and Environment, 6eCarl DahlmanWilliam H. Renwick

Chapter 5: Earth’s Resources and Environmental Protection

Holly Barcus, Morehead State University

And Joe Naumann, UMSL

  • Click on the animation below to see the video on resources
what is a natural resource
What Is a Natural Resource?
  • Anything from nature that exists in finite quantities which people use and value
  • Elements of
    • Atmosphere
    • Biosphere
    • Hydrosphere
    • Lithosphere
  • Distinguished from human creations and inventions
resource characteristics
Resource Characteristics
  • Defined by
    • Cultural values
      • What is used and valued by people
      • Wood, mud or brick building
      • Swamps become wetlands, cultural shifts
    • Available technology
      • Potential resources
      • Ability to extract and use
    • Economics
      • Supply and demand – influences prices
      • Externalities
natural resource use
Natural Resource Use
  • Substitutability
    • Stabilizes prices
    • Limits resource scarcity
  • Nonrenewable resources
    • Limited amounts
      • Gas, oil, coal, metals
    • Reusable – metals, silica (glass), etc.
  • Renewable resources
    • Replaced continually unless . . . . .
      • Air, wind, water, solar
conservation is the answer to natural resource use
Conservation is the Answer to Natural Resource Use
  • Conservation is the wise use of resources
  • Wise use – keeping the 4 laws of ecology in mind
  • Wise use – seeking maximum efficiency in an environmentally safe way
  • Not using resources is preservation, not conservation
mineral resources
Mineral Resources
  • Metallic
    • Copper, lead, silicon
  • Nonmetallic
    • Building stone, graphite, slate, quartz
  • Distribution of deposits is uneven
    • Cartels
  • Depletion and substitution
resources technology
Resources & Technology
  • Generally, the higher the level of technology, the larger the number of things viewed as natural resources or resources.
  • 19th Century Native Americans and 19th Century Americans and
    • Amerindian world view & technology
    • European/American world view & technology
european view of coal
European View of Coal
  • Greatly desired after the industrial revolution
    • Explored for coal deposits & paid high prices
    • Took territory with coal fields as “spoils” of war – i.e. Saar Valley (France/Germany border area)
      • 1793 occupied by France in French Revolution]
      • 1801-15 – France controlled it
      • 1815-1919 – Prussia controlled it (Germany)
      • 1919-35 – League of Nations
      • 1935-45 returned to Germany
      • 1945-48 – France
      • 1948-57 – Economic union with France
      • 1957-Present – part of Germany
more resource terminology
More Resource Terminology
  • Resource Reserves – What has not been extracted from the earth or been harvested.
    • Proven reserves – known deposits that are economically feasible to exploit – the only quantity we can really count on using.
    • Known deposits – not currently economically feasible to exploit at current prices or technology
    • Undiscovered deposits that may exist– can’t be counted on for the future – some may be feasible to exploit & some may not be.
efficiency is the key
Efficiency is the key
  • Efficiency prolongs the use of all types of resources
    • Efficiency in extraction – minimize waste
    • Efficiency in use – get the most out
    • Most important in the nonrenewable resources
  • Sustained yield is the best approach to renewable resources – use them at nature’s rate of renewal
  • Expanded recycling will maximize the quantity of reusable resources and expand the parameters.
  • Finding substitutes & alternatives where possible
solid waste
Solid Waste
  • Landfills
    • Sanitary landfills
    • NIMBY
  • Incineration
    • Reduces volume
    • Provides energy
  • Concept of Urban Ore
recycling of reusable resources
Recycling of reusable resources
  • Reduces need for landfills and incinerators
  • Reuses natural resources
  • Barriers
    • Waste separation
    • Consumer resistance
    • Lack of market
    • Hidden costs
    • Indirect losses
  • New products and technologies
  • Shared costs with consumers
energy resources
Energy Resources
  • Solar
  • Hydroelectric
  • Wind
  • Fossil fuels
  • Geothermal
energy resources industry
Energy Resources & Industry
  • Energy Resources = “Master” Natural Resources – the mainspring of industry
    • Fossil fuels currently are the major source – “solar” power -- NONRENEWABLE
  • Energy can be Extracted in a Number of Ways
    • Muscle power
    • Water power
    • Solar power
    • Fossil fuel power
    • Nuclear power (only one that isn’t releasing solar energy)
energy gdp correlation
Energy & GDP correlation
  • As more developing countries develop economically, the use of energy world-wide will greatly increase.
  • As more energy is demanded world-wide, the cost of energy will increase (laws of supply & demand)
fossil fuels wood pollute
Fossil Fuels & Wood Pollute

Tropical rainforest fire

  • Forest fires
  • Industrial consumption
  • Domestic consumption
fossil fuels
Fossil Fuels
  • Oil, natural gas, coal
    • Stored energy created over millions of years
  • Nonrenewable
  • Wood primary energy source until 19th century
  • Oil is most important energy resource today
  • U.S. and Canadian industry
    • Natural gas, oil, coal
  • Distribution of fossil fuels
    • Uneven
    • Reserves
  • Distribution
    • 2/3 of oil reserves in Middle East
    • North America and Europe have highest per capita oil consumption rates
  • Oil production and pricing
    • OPEC, 1960
    • Oil crises
  • Future of fossil fuels
    • Proven reserves
    • Unconventional sources
energy resources1
Energy Resources
  • Non-Renewable
    • Crude Oil (40% of all energy – excluding wood)
    • Coal
    • Natural Gas
    • Oil Shale
    • Tar Sands
  • Renewable
    • Wind & solar
    • Hydropower
    • Biomass
coal most abundant fossil fuel
Coal: most abundant fossil fuel
  • Pollution from use of coal & production of coal is a problem (costs money to reduce it, otherwise costs are passed on as medical problems for people not associated with the production of coal)
  • Coal can be converted to gas to produce power too
  • Needed
    • Efficiency through new technology
    • Pollution control at all levels
  • Large quantities exist in Siberia, but most are not economically feasible to develop at this time
general mining coal particularly
General mining–coal particularly
  • Surface mining – cheaper initially, but restoration of the land surface can be costly
  • Shaft mining – more expensive initially

Back-filling shaft mines can be very costly. Mine safety is also a major concern.

oil major energy fuel
Oil – major energy fuel
  • Crude petroleum
    • Major fuel: gasoline, kerosene, diesel, aviation fuel, etc.
    • Lubricants
    • Petrochemicals: plastics (tapes, CDs, & other flexible plastics); fertilizers; insecticides; pesticides; & others
    • More than 60% of oil reserves are around the Persian Gulf
    • U.S. imports approximately 50% of its petroleum
  • Extending use
    • New deposits (unlikely); improved extraction efficiency
    • Improved efficiency in use of petroleum
    • Substitutes
    • Limited recycling (motor oil to fuel oil)
natural gas fossil fuel
Natural Gas – fossil fuel
  • Cleanest burning – least polluting
  • Limited quantities
  • Shipping it great distances requires liquefaction or pipelines
  • As with other fossil fuels, it contributes to the “greenhouse” gases in the atmosphere and promotes global warming
nuclear energy
Nuclear Energy
  • Nuclear Processes
    • Fission verses fusion
    • Fusion Problems
      • Potential accidents (safety)
      • Radioactive waste (safety)
      • Public opposition (NIMBY)
      • High cost
fusion power
Fusion Power
  • Nuclear Fusion – has the potential to provide power without nuclear waste
    • Currently only a theory
    • Have been unable to produce more energy than is consumed
    • Holds hope for the future if technological problems can be solved.
nuclear power generator
Nuclear Power Generator
  • Chernobyl was built without adequate containment to save money.
  • 3 Mile Island had double containment structures.
nuclear accidents
Nuclear Accidents
  • Click on the mad scientist below to see the video
nuclear energy1
Nuclear Energy
  • Largely developed by the developed countries of the world
renewable energy
Renewable Energy
  • Biomass
    • Wood – traditional source of energy in many developing countries – renewable but also destroyable
    • Waste – plant wastes such as corn stalks
    • Methane production from “digesters”
  • Hydroelectric Power – methane release is pollution
    • Depends on good sites at economically feasible distances from potential markets
  • Solar Power – climate and weather related
    • Research discouraged by utility companies
  • Other Renewable Energy Resources
    • Geothermal Energy – depends on geological conditions
    • Wind Power – only feasible in some areas
solar power
Solar power

Solar power is well suited for desert areas where cloudy days are rare.

biomass power
Biomass Power

Biomass can be converted to gas almost anywhere.

geothermal energy
Geothermal Energy

Sites:Iceland, New Zealand, Yosemite (USA), Kamchatka Peninsula (Russia)

hydroelectric power
Hydroelectric Power
  • Approximately 25% of world’s electricity is generated by hydroelectric power facilities.
hydroelectric power sites
Hydroelectric Power Sites
  • Abundant, year-round flow of water
  • Sufficient fall – the greater the fall, the greater the power transferred
  • Good building Site such as a narrowing of the valley or a gorge
  • Available consumers or potential consumers within reasonable distance
  • Financing – this isn’t inexpensive
  • Sites in order: #1 Three Gorges Dam, China; #2 Congo basin #3 Amazon basin (poorest)
aswan dam the negatives
Aswan Dam: the negatives
  • Dam does produce much electricity & reduce floods & expand irrigation, BUT. . .
  • Disrupted natural flooding and siltation of farmland
    • Farmers now need to purchase fertilizers
    • Irrigation water is pumped where nature took it before
    • Spread schistosomiasis – snail fever or bilharziasis
  • Reduced quantity of nutrients reaching the Mediterranean & put fishermen out of work
  • Rich Nile delta is eroding due to reduced silt deposits
    • Richest farmland is being lost
energy policies for the future
Energy policies for the future
  • More hydroelectric power
  • Alternative fuels for transportation – hybrid, etc.
  • Research into practical solar power
  • Continue increasing efficiency of appliances
  • Design more energy-efficient homes
  • Operate schools 12 months a year (a smaller building could accommodate the number of students)
nonfuel mineral resources
Nonfuel Mineral Resources
  • The Distribution of Resources
    • Little relationship to size of country
    • Uneven distribution of resources among countries
  • Copper: A Case Study
    • World reserves may last only 33 years
    • Demand for copper
      • Conducts both heat and electricity well
      • Can be hammered into thin sheets or drawn into thin wires
      • Resists corrosion
    • Uneven distribution – convergence of W. S & N America w/Pacific plate & in Australia
    • Increasing efficiency & recycling
minerals in the global economy
Minerals in the global economy
  • No country is self-sufficient in natural resources
  • World trade is the only way for countries to obtain what they lack and sell what they have in abundance – all countries benefit from this trade
  • Self-sufficiency and isolation are not feasible for any country, even the USA, unless people are willing to GREATLY lower their standards of living – not a popular alternative to the way of life to which they have become accustomed.
new technology makes it economically feasible to mine lower concentrations of copper
New technology makes it economically feasible to mine lower concentrations of copper
  • Shrinking supply of copper causes it to sell at higher prices and makes it more feasible too.
air pollution
Air Pollution
  • Human causation
    • Predominately fossil fuels
  • Acid deposition
    • Acid rain - sulfur, nitrogen oxides
  • Urban air pollution
    • Wind, temperature, sunlight
major sources of air pollution
Major Sources of Air Pollution *
  • Transportation sources using fossil fuels
  • Industries processes
  • Electric power generation
  • Residential consumption of fossil fuels
  • Poor soil conservation practices and farming marginal lands

*Not in order of impact



dealing with pollution
Dealing With Pollution
  • The best way is to deal with the problem at the source – prevent the pollutants from entering the air in the first place.
    • Pollution control measures – industrial & domestic
    • Changed life-style
water pollution
Water Pollution
  • Source
    • Point
    • Non–point
  • Concentration and dilution
  • Reduced oxygen levels
    • Biochemical oxygen demand
  • Wastewater and disease
  • Chemical and toxic pollutants
nature has the ability to clean water
Nature has the ability to clean water
  • Nature is self sustaining through natural processes
  • Humans often overload the processes and cause breakdowns in nature’s abilities – pollution
land coastal resources
Land–Coastal Resources
  • Coastal Wetlands
    • Estuarine zone – essential to health of the neritic zones – the commercially productive shallow coastal waters.
    • Breeding ground for much wildlife
    • Scientists say 50% of wetlands have been lost to “development”
    • Outflow of fresh water from streams & action of tides mix deep ocean waters with surface waters in estuaries, contributing to their biological productivity & diversity
      • Lower saline content than the open sea
      • Many shellfish do better in lower salinity at some point in their life cycle.
pollution threatens estuarine zones
Pollution threatens estuarine zones
  • Dead zones develop in the neritic zone near the mouths of major rivers like the Mississippi – agricultural & other pollutants
controlling pollution
Controlling Pollution
  • Controlling pollution
    • Common strategy
    • Removal before entering environment
      • Sewage treatment
      • Catalytic converters
      • Smoke stack scrubbers
  • End of pipe strategies
preventing pollution
Preventing Pollution
  • Paradigm shift in the 1990’s
    • Stop producing pollution
  • Factors
    • Mounting liability and regulation concerns
    • Reduce costs
    • Improve image with consumers and regulators
  • Uses
    • Renewable natural resource
    • Timber, paper, wood products
    • Recreational
  • Ecosystem
    • Habitat
    • Carbon production
    • Biodiversity
land resources forests
Land Resources -- forests
  • Forest Resources have greatly shrunk
    • Cutting for farming and lumbering
      • Lumbering done for years without replanting – sustained yield is the only sensible approach for national health
      • Controversy over cutting methods – selective, or clear
      • Increased erosion and run-off (flooding)
    • U.S. National Forests effort to preserve some
      • Some administrations in D.C. have been more willing to allow private companies to exploit timber and minerals
    • Tropical Forests – major oxygen producers
      • Cutting threatens climate change & plant gene pool
      • Loss of potentially important plants for medicine
cutting methods
Cutting Methods
  • Selective reduces erosion and runoff
    • May be initially more expensive
    • Fits in easily with sustained-yield programs
  • Clear-cutting promotes erosion & more runoff
    • Passed-on costs make this more costly
wood harvests extending usability
Wood harvests – extending usability
  • Substitutes – metals, plastics, etc.
  • Efficiency – masonite, particle board, paper etc
disappearing treasure
Disappearing Treasure
  • Services of forest–home & life-source of people
      • Protects soil from erosion & reduces flooding
      • Major oxygen producers & pollutant filters & humidity “pumps” (helps maintain the tropical rainforest climate)
      • Habitat for wildlife
      • Greatest variety of plant species than any other biome – many with medical uses – many not catalogued as yet
often overlooked soil
Often overlooked soil
  • The food chain depends on 4 basic factors: sunlight, soil, air, and water.
  • Soil: the foundation & it can be destroyed – it takes far longer to create 1” of topsoil than to destroy one.
  • To keep food production ecologically maximized:
    • Anti-erosion farming methods
    • Maintain the micro-organisms that normally live in soil
    • Renew humus content to keep it loose and absorbent of water and to return nutrients to the soil
  • Give farming a higher priority than urban development – good level land reserved for farming
forest management
Forest Management
  • Resolving user conflict
  • Balancing resource and recreation
  • Government involvement
  • Marketplace demands
resource management
Resource Management
  • Environmentally Sustainable Economy – the only sensible approach – satisfies current needs without jeopardizing the prospects for future generations
    • Sustained yield – environmentally friendly logging
    • Efficiency in extraction and in use for production
  • Principles of environmentally sustainable economy
    • Soil erosion cannot exceed soil formation.
    • Forest destruction cannot exceed forest regeneration
    • Species extinction cannot exceed species evolution
    • Fish catches cannot exceed the regenerative capacity
    • Pollutants can’t exceed capacity of system to absorb them.
more resource management
More Resource Management
  • Conservation – Wise use, not preservation
  • Reuse of Materials --


    • Finite materials that can be reused
    • The costs of recycling may offset other costs that will be incurred if recycling is not practiced
  • Substitution – extends the usefulness of any resource, particularly those finite ones which are non-renewable and non reusable.
    • Alternative energy sources are vital
  • Cooperate with natural processes
water so very vital
Water – So Very Vital
  • Earth’s total of fresh water in lakes, rivers, & streams = .3% of the earth’s total water store.
  • The hydrologic cycle keeps replenishing it within the limits of the process
  • Fresh water occurrence varies
    • Ireland – excess 878,000 yrd3 per person annually
    • Persian Gulf countries desalinate sea water
    • Average US citizen uses 62 times as much as the average citizen of Ghana
  • 69% of water withdrawn used for agriculture – varies by country: USA 42%; China 87%
stop all waste
Stop All Waste
  • Reusable fresh water getting scarce
    • World population keeps growing but water supply is rather fixed.
    • Pollution is increasing (developing nations often ignore pollution control)
  • What can be done?
    • Redesign industrial processes to use less – also recover & recycle
    • Redesign appliances–use less–i.e. clothes washers
    • Ban planting of Midwestern plants in desert states
    • More efficient irrigation methods (currently only 37% of water gets to the plants)
Recycling must be part of the solution – it can reduce some of the pollution resulting from improper disposal of products and industrial wastes.
alternatives to landfills
Alternatives to Landfills
  • It is getting increasingly difficult to find acceptable sites for the elimination of solid wastes in landfills
  • Maximizing the use of reusable components of solid waste
    • Reduce quantity of solid waste to be disposed of
    • Landfills would take longer to reach capacity.
    • Reduce the NIMBY reaction
wealth from waste urban ore
“Wealth from Waste” – “Urban Ore”
  • Metal Recovery—copper, steel, aluminum
  • Some plastics can be recycled several times
  • Glass – melted and reused
  • Auto tires – ground up & used to surface roads
  • Combustibles (paper etc.) – burn in electric generating plants (reduce amt. of coal used)
  • Garbage (organics): methane & man-made oil (very $ now)
  • Recycle feces – sludge from sewage treatment plants can produce methane and be dried, sanitized, pulverized, and deodorized and sold as fertilizer – e.g. Milorganite
recovery example
Recovery example
  • Electric utility in the northeast required to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions from its smokestacks
  • Complied under protest of excessive expense that would drive the utility out of business
  • Sulfur recovered by the “scrubbers” was sold to a nearby chemical company and that sale helped pay the costs of cleaning up the emissions
    • Reduced the need for mined sulfur somewhat
    • Produced cleaner air and contributed to better lung health in downwind areas & less acid rain
    • All of the clean-up costs were not passed on to consumers & the company survived
what consumers can do
What consumers can do
  • Products made from or using recycled materials
  • Energy efficient appliances – they may save you more money than their initial higher cost.
  • Think about a gas efficient automobile or a “hybrid” – in 2001, Toyota and Honda started selling them.
what industry can do
What Industry Can Do --
  • Research ways to get greater efficiency in production and in products’ use of energy
  • Example: Saturn automobile introduced in 1991
    • Polymer door and quarter panels
      • No dings or rust holes & uses less steel (substitution)
      • Less weight allows for smaller gas-efficient engine
    • Used recycled materials in some parts
    • Numerous parts could be recycled, including polymer panels
    • Used environmentally friendly paint & painting process
    • Longevity features – steel timing chain & instantly available oil filter feature (should extend engine life and efficiency)