Natural Resources Essay Research Paper A natural

Natural Resources Essay, Research Paper

A natural resource is defined as a natural material found on earth that is useful

for humans in some way. It is often processed of manufactured in order for it to

meet the needs of a society. Resources then differ spatially, as different people

have different needs and therefore require different resources, and temporally

as a society grows and advances their needs will change and so to their

resources. Natural resources range from minerals and metals to people (their

labor and skills). (Kleeman 1997, Pashley 1996, Plant 1998)

In this response 2 major sample studies will be used, these are, water and

energy (in the form of uranium) on a variety of scales.

Reference List


The Uranium Information Centre.

Sydney water

Sydney Catchment Authority


KLEEMAN (1997) Global Interactions: A Senior Geography Rigby Heinemann,


PLANT (1998) Get Smart Study Guide Science Press, Australia

PASHLEY (1996) Excel HSC Pascal Press, Australia

Natural resources are natural materials found on earth that is useful for

humans in some way (Kleeman 1997) They can be divided into categories.

Diagram 1 shows the 4 types of natural resources and an example of each.

From the above we can see that coal is an example of an exhaustible resource,

this means there exists a finite stocks. These resources are non renewable in the

ascertainable future. Renewable resources, have the potential to be renewed.

Forests will be replenished over time after they have been harvested for human

needs either naturally if left alone to do so, or with human help in the form of

plantations in an alternate area. Renewability is then often dependent on proper

management over time. Recyclable resources are also renewable but can

recycled indefinitely through reprocessing. These resources will not always come

back in the same form after undergoing recycling. Glass bottles can be recycled

into furniture, windows, ornaments, etc. Continuous resources are continually

renewable. Solar energy will always exist and can be harnessed and used without

concern for recycling or replenishment time. It can be said that it will never be

finite and the supply will always be greater than the demand.

Question 3

Natural Resource: Uranium

A variety issues arise when uranium is found, extracted, processed, consumed,

and disposed of. Management strategies are in place to combat these issues.

Environmental Issues

The use of uranium produces waste has an impact on the environment. Waste

produced is radioactive and therefore hazardous, depending on the waste’s

level of radioactivity and half life it will remain hazardous for a long period of

time. The environmental issue effecting uranium is waste disposal. The view

below is from Pangia Resources, a US company that seeks to dispose of

nuclear waste in outback Australia.

“nuclear waste is a problem that won’t go away, that the best

known way of dealing with it is putting it somewhere in stable

rocks, that these rocks must be away from population centres”

(Campaign for a Nuclear Free Future – Update 17 Dec 98)

Table 1 shows radioactive waste scales and their individual disposal method.

The burial of waste, in the short term has been a suitable method but in the

long term proves to be uncertain. There are always risks of the radioactive

waste leeching out into the soil and impact on the biophysical environment.

Diagram 2 shows the spread of radioactive contamination via abiotic

processes to the biota.


Unless a proven long term method of waste disposal is developed, uranium will

loose resource value as demand decreases due to environmental and


Social Issues

The Mirrar of the Northern Territory are concerned about the Jabaluka uranium

development, and any development that impacts on their cultural sacred sites

and traditional way of life.

They are traditional owners of land. They claimed much of ‘their land’ back under

the Aboriginal Land Rights (NT) Act 1976.

They claim to have sacred sites in the uranium mine area. These sites are directly

and severely impacted upon by the Jabiluka uranium mine.

The Mirrar believe that culturally significant sites will be damaged by the

construction of the Jabiluka uranium mine. Damage to these spiritual sites

destroys living tradition.

The indigenous population, with support and backing from a very much diversified

global community struggled against adversity in the fight to stop the Jabaluka

uranium mine and were successful in doing so. As of September 1999, all work at

Jabaluka ceased indefinitely which has effected resource by reducing supply.

Question 4

Natural Resource: Water

Water is the most plentiful, vital, non-substitutional resource on the planet. Life

exists and is sustained because of and by water. Though there is abundant water

in the world and available for use, attainable potable water for human

consumption remains scarce. Map shows the global inequitable distribution of

water on a global scale.

Water is needed by all but all do not have equal access to supplies. Due to the

scarce nature of water it is necessary for management strategies to be practiced

to ensure optimum uses of water are not hindered by damage to water quality and

limited water quantity.

A case study of Sydney water will demonstrate water management strategies

utilized, their results and suggest enhancement of these strategies to ameliorate

water issues on a local scale.

Sydney water provides approximately 1500 million litres of water per day to more

than 3.7 million people. Map shows the Catchment area and the infrastructure

that supplies Sydney (33 51 S, 151 12 E) with it’s water.

The following flow diagram illustrates the path of Sydney water from Catchment to

where it is used in homes and businesses


water collection


water storage

Filtration Plants

removal of contaminants


Residential Industry Businesses

Management strategies currently used in Sydney are aimed to secure adequate

quality water for consumption and use by the population of the Sydney region.

These strategies are also devised so that there will be access to sufficient

amounts of water for all.

These strategies include:

Water recycling

Thus providing another water source and reducing anticipated increased future

usage. Also reducing discharge into rivers and oceans. Recycled water is used in

residential gardens and toilets, in industry and irrigation so that fresh water can

go directly to the people for consumption. This then leaves the present

infrastructure able to withstand present demands without the construction of new


Irrigation practices – increasing water efficiency

e.g. central pivot sprinklers and drip or trickle systems

Design features of Infrastructure

e.g. The Prospect plant (and others) were designed to be ‘easily upgraded’

(SMH98). So when new technology evolved and new information accumulated the

plants could be ready to put them in practice, put them to use.

Pay per use

Consumers are charged for water usage as the following diagram illustrates.

There is then an incentive to use less, conserving the resource, because of

reduced costs of consumption.

Public awareness and education programs

National programs such as WaterWise which “aims to inform and educate the

community on how to use water wisely and promote the need for water

conservation” ( Also specifically Sydney water conservation

campaigns such as “Sydney water: Good enough to bottle, too good to waste”

Monitoring of the system and water quality

Managing the levels of contaminants and foreign particles in the water to ensure

the public has access to the optimum water possible.

These strategies and others used are effective to a certain degree though are

not always faultless as the 1998 Sydney water crisis pointed out.

Cryptosporidium and giardia parasites entered the supply system jeopardizing

public health and safety which emphasized the need for the evaluation and

improvement of the current management strategies being employed.

Suggestions for improvements of management strategies

water recycling

More water recycling for all uses so less water is deducted from storage


Irrigation practices

The spreading of the new efficient methods so the benefits can be felt


Implication of new technology to existing infrastructure

As new technology is made available it should be put to use.

Water costs

Put the ‘user pays’ principle to further use. All costs of getting the water to the

consumers, building the infrastructure and the environmental costs are

factored into the costs to the user. Consumers would then be hesitant of the

inevitable new dam because they would have to finance it themselves. They

would be forced to conserve.

Public awareness

Strengthen campaigns to make the message loud and clear.

Monitoring quality

Develop and strengthen regular thorough checks on water composition. Set

strict tight controls on acceptable levels of parasites and ensure these are met

and not surpassed.

Other suggested strategies

Quotas and limits

If these are preceded, heavy fines should be demanded

Weather forecasting

If the weather is accurately predicted it can be known when demand will be at

a high (when it’s hot) and when supply will be abundant (when it rains heavily

for a prolonged period of time)

Population reduction

Migration restrictions and incentives to move elsewhere to reduce the

population hence reducing demand (provided demand per head does not

increase also)

Water management in Sydney is a long term process but the strategies used

must be evaluated in the short term for the strategies to be effective. Water

provision is a function of a city and the people of the city have a right to

assessable clean water . This can be granted and sustained provided the

proper management strategies are set in place and new ones are continuously

developed and implemented.

Question 2

The spatial distribution of the world’s resources is inequitable. Humans have

no say or no hand in where the majority of natural resources are located. It is

the physical processes that brought about the appearance and the make up of

the earth as we know it today that is the force behind the scattered

non-uniform distribution of worldwide natural resources. The maps below

illustrate the distribution of some examples of natural resources throughout the


The reason behind the differences between production and consumption of

natural resources lies in the fact that the so called ‘North’ countries or the

developed countries industrialized early on and first. They then depleted their

local resource stocks temporally and were compelled to search elsewhere for

the resources to satisfy their needs. To do this they turned to the developing

world and exploited foreign resources. A cycle of supply and demand was soon

afterward created, where the demand originated from the developed countries

who saw the supply of cheap raw materials and cheap labor, and the supply

emanated from those the developing counties who sought to the capital


Distribution and consumption evolved to be based on wealth. Access to and

supply of resources is granted to the country, corporation or company that

makes the most lucrative offer. Typically the developed nations of the world are

in a position to do this, but as discussed above, not locally. They have the

means to consume what is produced elsewhere. In percentage figures this

translated to 90% of the world’s resources being consumed by 30% of the

world’s population.

Technology has played a part in creating disparities between production and

consumption. Transportation carries resources all over the world, no longer is

there a need to locate near the resource you need to have access to it.


The map below indicates uranium production and consumption on a global


The trends, as can be seen from the map, uranium is produced in areas where

it isn’t consumed. The wealthier nations with the money for nuclear electricity

generation import their needed uranium. The producer/supplier nations do not

have the same needs for uranium so they export it.

Political Issues

In today’s unstable state of the world international and national conflict and

aggression is a prevalent concern. So too is the world armament and defensive

measures that exacerbate these concerns. Nuclear weaponry is a concern on a

global scale because of it’s potential cataclysmic damage it could inflict on the

world. Measures have been taken to prevent this.

The International Atomic Energy Agency was set up by the United Nations in

1957 to help countries develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

Safeguards are in place to discourage the change of course of nuclear material

from peaceful use by increasing the risk of early detection…i.e. the principle of

prevention by stopping it at the source as opposed to the cure after a warhead

has been fired.

When Australian uranium export was approved it was under the condition of

safeguards which meant that countries importing Australian uranium did so

under the strict condition that is was used specifically for peaceful purposes,

namely electricity generation and not for military purposes. The pie chart below

shows Australia’s uranium exports

Other forms of Political issues include government policy such as the “three

mines” policy by the 1983 Hawke Labor government. By only operating 3

mines this limits supply.


Natural resources are present in different categories : exhaustible, renewable,

recyclable and continuous. On a global scale spatial and temporal variations on

the distribution and production and consumption rates and levels exist.

Differences in production and consumption of natural resources arise because of

environmental, social, economic, and political factors. In the finding, processing,

consuming, producing, and development of natural resources issues emanate.

These issues include that of a social, political, economic, environmental, and

technological nature, But management strategies are formed and utilized to

confront these issues. Management strategies are based on the conservation of

natural resources and maximizing their efficiency in meeting the needs of society

without damaging people or the environment..


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