Consuming Resources

Types of resources

Resources can be grouped into three main categories

Renewable Resources that can renew themselves without any human management (e.g. wind, sunlight)
Non-renewable Resources that can't be remade/renewed, there is only a fixed amount available (e.g. coal)
Sustainable Resources that can be managed so they renew themselves (e.g. wood)

The different types of resources are:

Energy

Mineral

Physical

Biological

Resource and supply use

The global supply and use of resources is not consistent across the world. There are inequalities and pressures on supply and consumption.

Oil supply and consumption

Hydropower supply and consumption

Consumption theories

There are two different theories you need to know about how well the world can cope with current resource consumption. These are:

Malthusian Theory - Thomas Malthus Boserupian theory - Ester Boserup
Population growth went up geometrically: 2, 4, 8, 16 etc. (2 people have 4 children, those 4 children have 8 children between them. Population growth would force people to be inventive to overcome the problems of food shortages and they would find ways to increase food production
Food production went up arithmetically: 1, 2, 3, 4 etc. - because improvements happen slowly Population growth is a good thing and that it is essential to human progress
This meant famines would occur to limit population size naturally.
The poor should realise that having lots of children was only making them poorer

Managing Consumption

Trying to reduce our resource consumption is happening on a global scale, with local and national governments trying to reduce resource consumption to achieve sustainability.

Education - trying to change behaviour

Conservation - maintaining health of natural world

Recycling

Potential of Renewables

As well as managing resource consumption, there are other ways to achieve sustainability, this can be done by developing alternative and renewable resources or technological 'fixes' to solve resource shortages.

Alternative and renewable resources

Examples of alternative and renewable resources include:

Unfortunately, there are some problems with these alternative resources:

Technological fixes

With problems arising from the decreasing amount of vital resources, technological advances mean that new alternatives can be produced.

For example, oil is running out, yet we depend on it greatly for our everyday lives. One possible solution is Hydrogen fuel cells which can be used to power cars. This is a good solution because:

However, it also takes energy to produce and is four times as expensive as power from non-renewable sources.

Another problem we need to overcome is global warming. There are various technological ways which could help solve this problem such as scrubbing technology to take CO2 out of the atmosphere, mirrors in space to reflect solar energy from Earth to reduce temperature rises. Unfortunately, these technologies are very expensive and the possible side effects are currently unknown.