Monday, February 10, 2014

Global depletion and conservation of natural resources

Natural resources are the materials which are required for the survival and prosperity of human beings. They are objects, materials,creatures or energy found in nature that can be used by humans. A Resource is something that is useful and valuable in the condition in which we find it. Natural resources are not equally distributed in or on the earth. All resource use bears a cost to nature. Human activities have misused, abused and over-used the natural resources.
Perpetual resources -  are not affected by human use   E.g., sunlight and wind .
Renewable resources –are replenished through biogeochemical and physical cycles.
Renewable resources are  of two types : 1.Critical  and Sustainable renewable resources e.g., forests. 2. Non-critical and Everlasting renewable resources e.g., water
Non-renewable resources - do not replenish themselves, or, do so  at a very slow rate.

Forest resources 

A forest is an area with a high density of trees. The trees grow to different heights. Forests are home to 50-90% of earth’s species. Forests meet the social, economic ,ecological, cultural and spiritual needs of human society.
 Functions of Forest Resources
Productive functions - timber, bamboos, food, essential oils,resins,  alkaloids, latex, medicines etc.
Protective functions - conservation of soil and water; Prevention of drought ; Protection against, wind, cold, radiation, noise.
Regulative functions - Absorption, storage and release of gases, water, mineral elements and radiant energy; Regulation of floods, droughts and biogeochemical cycles.
Effects of deforestation  - Unregulated precipitation, runoff water and floods; Influences of rainfall pattern; Increased soil erosion and decreased soil fertility; extinction of organisms; Induces regional and global climate change; reduces forest resources; threatens the survival of tribes.

Water resources 

Water is an essential natural resource for sustaining life. Water forms 60% of our body weight. Water is a renewable and limiting resource. About three – fourth of earth’s surface is occupied by oceans. About 97.5% of the earth’s water is strong saline. The rest 2.5% is fresh water. Pure, usable water on land is only 0.3%.
Conservation of water resources –
- increase irrigation efficiency and reduce water wastage.
-recycle industrial waste water.
-construct waste water treatment plants.
-reduce domestic water wastage.
-adopt rainwater harvesting methods.
-protect watersheds and afforestation to improve water economy.
-never dump wastes and garbage in streams and river.

Land Resources

Land is one of the major life supporting systems. It forms about one fifth of the earth surface. Soil covers about four fifth of the land area. A fertile soil is a living soil containing billions of living organisms in every cubic centimeter. Solar energy is the natural fuel that drives the soil cycles. The activities of living organisms all sizes are interdependent and combine harmoniously to provide the nourishment that sustains all life on earth. Soil erosion is the removal of top soil by physical agents like wind, water, ice etc. Depletion of soil fertility is caused by removal of vegetation, water logging and application of non-degradable chemicals.
Soil conservation :
Conservational tillage – Ploughing improves soil permeability, soil moisture and nutrients.
Organic farming – More organic inputs to soil.
Crop rotation – Growing legumes after cereal crops.
Contour ploughing – Ploughing with alternate furrows and ridges.
 Mulching – Soil is allowed to remain untilled and is covered with plant litter.
Strip cropping – Planting in rows or strips.
Terrace farming – Slope is converted into terraces.
Agrostological methods – Grasses are grown in rotation or along with agricultural crops (lay farming).

Afforestation – Trees or wind breaks are planted in deserts.

Food resources

The major source of our food are plants / plant products and animal meat / animal products.
Major problems of modern agriculture - Intensive farming reduce fertility and productivity of soil. Increase soil salinity. Over use of chemical fertilizers contaminate soil and ground water. Excessive use of pesticides and herbicides kill beneficial soil organisms.

Air resource 

Air is one of the natural resources and is a life-supporting system. It forms the immediate environment of the earth and biosphere. Organisms can respire oxygen and survive in the world. Rainfall in any area depends on wind or air current. Wind has been used to generate electrical energy. Ozone protects the earth from Ultra violet rays. Nitrogen is an important mineral nutrient for plants. Air acts as a medium for some microorganisms. Water vapor maintains atmospheric humidity and in precipitation.

Mineral resources 

Minerals are exhaustible, non-renewable. Minerals are relatively plentiful. Minerals are extremely expensive. Minerals are extremely expensive. Disposal of minerals have negative effects on environment. Metallic minerals - e.g., iron, copper, silver, gold etc. Non-metallic minerals -e.g. Sand, stone, salt, phosphates.

Energy resources 

Life depends on energy flow through ordered structures of matter. Energy is produced usually from fuel burning and atom splitting. About 70% of the world population has no sufficient access to energy.
Types of energy resources
Renewable an energy source that can be replenished in a short period of time.  e.g. solar energy, wind energy, hydro-energy, tidal energy and geothermal energy.
Non-renewable –  some energy sources cannot recreated in a short period of time.  e.g. Coal, petroleum and natural Gas

Sustainable Conservation

Stabilizing population growth
     The relentless growth of population has been a critical factor in over utilizing natural resources. Human race must willingly practice population control.It should be stabilized at the level of carrying capacity.
2. Change-over in energy use
     A change – over is necessary from non-renewable polluting energy to renewable and non-polluting.
3.Change – over in technology: Change is needed from resource – intensive and pollution – prone technologies to environment – friendly technologies.
4. Change – over is economy: The economic development must be environmentally sensitive and sustainable.
5. Scientific conservation: Conservation is the “global of efficiency”. Scientific methods should be followed to manage nature and natural resources efficiently.

Quote for self-reflection

"Conservation is a state of harmony between men and land." -Aldo Leopold.

"Green economy is not a luxury of the rich,
 but an imperative of the poor." -Nick Nuttall.

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