Sustainability and Natural Resources

Sustainability and Natural
What is a resource?
It is anything that we find useful
Includes human resources (skills,
experience etc.) and…
Natural Resources
These are all natural
What is a natural resource?
Anything we find a use for
that the Earth produces.
Two types of natural
 resources that can be
replenished in a human
 resources that do
not replenish (within a
human lifetime)
 forests, fish,
hydroelectricity, solar
energy, etc.
 oil, gas, iron, etc
Use the handout to identify renewable
and non renewable resources.
Renewable Resources
tree, water, rubber
(from rubber trees),
wool, acorn, solar
energy, soil,newspaper,
whales, grapes, fish,
cotton, and pigs
Non-Renewable Resources
green garbage bags,
rubber (from oil), lead,
margarine containers,
glass, oil, gasoline, nickel
and coal
What is sustainable
 Meeting the needs of today without
compromising the needs of tomorrow.
 ex. Harvesting trees but replanting.
Consider this Cree prophecy
"Only after the last tree
has been cut down,
Only after the last river
has been poisoned,
Only after the last fish
has been caught,
Only then will you find
that money cannot be eaten."
How much is too much?
 Every living thing (including humans) on the
Earth needs to be in balance with its
environment. If there are too many of
something, the environment degrades resulting
in deaths.
 This concept is known as carrying capacity,
which refers to the maximum amount of
individuals a region can sustain indefinitely.
Carrying Capacity
– Stable Ecosystem
An unlikely example!
Easter Island
A mysterious
island in the
Pacific Ocean off
the coast of Chile
In 1722 a Island
few hundred natives and very little
else, were found on the island.
 There is evidence of a great civilization (Rapa
Nui) of about 9000 people.
What happened?
 Archaeologists believe that early Polynesians settled
the island on purpose and thrived.
 They cut down the forests to plant crops, build
ships & buildings, move giant stone heads, and cook.
 This overuse of resources had drastic consequences.
 The initial carrying capacity of the island was
 The island’s soil eroded into the sea.
 There was less rainfall.
 Crops failed and the inhabitants warred with each
other over the remaining resources.
 They even turned to cannibalism
This is called a stressed
over carrying capacity
Reduced carrying capacity
after the stress.
Does this situation look
 Our global population is over 6.4 billion.
 We see:
 famine
 drought
 desertification
 food shortages
 war
 Should we wait for cannibalism before we act?
 Reduce world population (developed
worlds have declining birth rates)
 Increase food production with new
 Reduce use of non-renewable resources
and use renewable resources sustainably
 Don’t waste!