An increasing global population needs more resources. At a basic level we need uncontaminated food and water supplies, shelter, clothing and good health. Resources are also required to make all the things that we use in our daily lives.
Sustainable use of resources
The world’s natural resources have conflicting demands upon them and can be difficult to manage.
Aims of sustainability
A recycling point in Eastbourne, Sussex
- The environment should be preserved.
- Resources need to be retained for future generations to enjoy.
- Humans need to continue to make and do the things that allow them to live comfortably.
- LEDCs need to develop, through exploiting their resources.
- There should be a better balance between the consumption of those resources between LEDCs and MEDCs.
Wind Turbines on Ovenden Moor, West Yorkshire
To conserve natural resources for future generations, sustainable management of the natural environment is necessary. Alternative resources might be developed in order to ease the strain on finite resources. However, alternative resources can be expensive and take time to develop. Existing resources could be used more efficiently, to prevent finite resources being used up so quickly.
Ways to limit the damage caused by humans to the environment include:
Tents at a music festival in Gloucestershie
- Sustainable resource management can help ensure that the use of resources does not cause an imbalance in the environment. Increasingly, sustainable practices are being encouraged to preserve animal and plant life for the benefit of future generations. An example of sustainable development is ecotourism. Tourists are able to enjoy areas of natural beauty without requiring overdevelopment that might harm the environment.
- Recycling resources reduces waste. Used cans, bottles, paper and cardboard can be recycled, which reduces the need to use extra resources.
- Limiting carbon emissions generated from industrial and domestic use of fuels can assist in reducing pollution levels and limit environmental problems such as global warming and acid rain. Some governments, including the UK, signed the Kyoto Protocol to say they will try to reduce carbon emissions.
- Resource substitution is another sustainable way in which resources can be managed. Renewable resources can be used instead of finite resources. Electric power can be produced by using a renewable energy resource such as tidal, wind or solar power instead of fossil fuels.
Sustainable energy resources
To meet the increasing global demand for energy, while reducing the risk of damage to the environment or contributing to global warming, it is important that:
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- Countries find new types of energy, whilst developing and expanding existing sources that are more sustainable than fossil fuels.
- Industry and domestic users of energy use it more efficiently (ie stop wasting it).
- MEDCs start to switch from fossil fuels to alternative sources.
- As LEDCs start to use more energy they are encouraged to develop more sustainable sources of energy.
The purpose of sustainability is to manage resources or run projects or industries, so future generations can use the resources too.
International concern has led many countries to try to reduce their use and consumption of carbon-based fossil fuels. Many governments signed the Kyoto Protocol, committing them to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Energy efficient bus
With energy consumption rising, it is important that industry, transportation and consumers in their homes use energy more efficiently, so that less is wasted. This will also save money on fuel bills. We can all help by making changes to our lifestyles and our houses.
Examples of energy efficiency
- Walking, cycling, or using public transport rather than fossil-fuel powered cars.
- Using smaller more energy-efficient cars.
- Reducing the number of aircraft journeys taken (especially short-haul flights).
- Switching off lights, power sockets, phone chargers and TVs when not in use.
- Using energy-efficient light-bulbs and rechargeable batteries.
- Recycling and reusing plastics and oil-based products.
- Insulating house roofs, blocking drafts, using double-glazing and more efficient heating systems.
- Considering introducing solar panels, or switching to an electricity supplier that supplies green electricity.
Case study: Burbo Bank Wind Farm, Liverpool Bay
Wind power is a controversial commodity. Although it is renewable, and goes some way towards solving the problem of scarce fossil fuels for energy, not everyone is in favour of wind farms. Those who live close to wind farms claim that they are unsightly and noisy.
A wind farm off Crosby beach
Burbo Bank wind farm has been fully operational since summer 2007, and consists of 25 turbines, which produce enough energy to supply 80,000 homes. The wind conditions in this part of the Mersey estuary are perfect for harnessing wind energy.
During the installation noise could be heard by nearby residents as the turbines were fixed into the seabed.
Some people living along the Sefton Coast have since had their view of Snowdonia blighted by the windmills.