In this lesson you will comprehend how the consumption of everyday products affects the availability of renewable and nonrenewable natural resources for future generations and learn about environmental threats to our home.
Read the following information to help you define three different types of resourcesâ€”renewable, nonrenewable, perpetual.
1. On earth, there are only limited amounts of fossil fuels, such as coal, oil and natural gas. There are also only limited amounts of minerals, such as iron, copper and bauxite. These resources either cannot be replaced by natural processes or require millions of years to replenish.
2. Some renewable and nonrenewable resources can be recycled or reused. This process decreases the rate at which the supplies of these resources are depleted. For example, aluminum cans can be recycled and turned into â€œnewâ€ cans or other aluminum products many times over. Recycling reduces the need to mine bauxite, the mineral used to manufacture aluminum.
3. Renewable natural resources include plants, animals and water when they are properly cared for. Minerals and fossil fuels such as coal and oil are examples of nonrenewable natural resources.
4. Trees, wildlife, water and many other natural resources are replaced by natural processes. Plants and animals can also be replenished by human activities. Water is continuously cycled and reused. Sunlight, wind, geothermal heat, tides and flowing water are perpetual resources.
Water is a resource that is typically considered renewable. However, over usage of water can cause us to use it faster than it is replenished.
The chart below approximates daily water consumption in the United States:
1. Thermoelectric Utilities 187 billion gallons/day
2. Irrigation 137 billion gallons/day
3. Public Water Supply 36 billion gallons/day
4. Industry 26 billion gallons/day
5. Rural and Livestock 8 billion gallons/day
Total 394 billion gallons/day
What are the threats to our environment?
Biodiversity is all of the Earth’s plants, animals, ecosystems and genes. It includes the tallest tree, the smallest insect, and the most delicate coral reef ecosystem. Biodiversity is what allows the Earth and all of its creatures to adapt and survive.
As humans, we are completely dependent on biodiversity for survival. Yet we are destroying large parts of our natural world. In places far and wide, humans are squeezing out other forms of life, sometimes causing the extinction of entire species.
We have the power to change our course. Each of us can act to protect our biodiversity and help create a sustainable future for life on Earth. Learn more about biodiversity and how YOU can make a difference.
Pure water is essential for all life on Earth. The Earth is 70% water, as are our bodies. We can last for about 2-3 weeks without food, but we would be dead within 3 days without water.
Humans are increasingly putting this essential resource in serious danger. We poison our ground and surface water. We burn fossil fuels that cause acid rain and global warming. We dam our rivers, interrupting water flow and destroying delicate ecosystems downstream. We clear vegetation and pave massive land areas, decreasing the groundwater level and increasing flooding and soil erosion. On top of all this, those with access to the most water are wasting vast amounts of it.
Each of us can play an important role in conserving and protecting our local water supply. Educate yourself about the many threats to water.
If forests fail to strike you as beautiful, peaceful and worthy of existence for their own sake, take a moment to consider their value to natural systems. Forests are the lungs of our planet. They purify the air, protect our water and soil, and are a critical habitat to millions of animals and plants.
By destroying our forests, we are losing our most reliable ally in the struggle with global warming, floods, droughts, and soil erosion. We are wiping out the guardians of the planet’s freshwater resources and the garden that gives life to medicinal plants, foods, and many other products.
Learn more about the main threats to forests.
Energy is integral to virtually every aspect of life – it is hard to imagine life without it. Yet many of our most serious threats to clean air, clean water, and healthy ecosystems stem from humans’ energy use.
Currently, most energy is produced from coal, oil, natural gas, and uranium. These energy sources pollute our air and water, change the Earth’s climate, destroy fragile ecosystems, and endanger human health. A large amount of the energy we generate is wasted, raising energy costs and harming the environment.
We can meet our energy needs while protecting human health, our climate, and other natural systems. The solution is a rapid transition to energy efficiency and the use of clean, renewable energy sources such as the sun and wind. Renewable energy sources are abundant and inexhaustible. They do not use fuel, so fuel costs and price fluctuations are not an issue. They generate energy with minimal pollution, causing no oil spills, nuclear meltdowns, nuclear wastes, smog, or acid rain.
When joining together, ordinary citizens are the most powerful political force in the world. Learn more about how you can help create a clean energy future. Go to this energy fact sheet For Residents.
You’ve got a personal environment, too.
To help keep yourself fit and healthy, as well as live longer, you’ve got to take care of that personal environment as well as the rain forests, whales, and ozone layer. So the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences have put together a checklist of things you can do. Look at the 21 Easy Steps to Personal Environmental Health
Explore the Kid’s page by the National Institute of Environmental Health.
Please read about Recycle City to learn more about recycling and why we do it.
1) Some nonrenewable and renewable natural resources can be recycled or reused. This process decreases the rate at which the supplies of these resources are depleted. Can you name two items in your house that can be recycled or reused?
2) Minerals and fossil fuels such as coal and oil, are examples of nonrenewable resources. Can you think of two non-renewable fossil fuels?
3) “Sustainable Yield” refers to a renewable resource’s threshold for regeneration. Put very simply, it’s the point at which a renewable resource can no longer “renew” itself. Imagine and briefly describe a situation wherein a resource’s sustainable yield is exceeded, and the consequences of that over-use.
4) Which resources, if any, would continue to be available no matter how much people used them?
5) Write 2-3 paragraphs about your chosen topic of study. Please include specific ideas about how you can help safeguard these resources, list all websites used and also your opinion on the topic as well.
6) Devise 3 environmentally healthy steps of your own, using the links above as a model. (You can incorporate the silly rhyme scheme if you like, but it’s certainly not a requirement.)
7) Name 3 enviormental threats
8) What about personal enviormental health?
9) In your own words, why is it important to recycle?
10) In your own words, how does recycling help the environment? What do you think would happen to the environment if we stopped recycling
11) Name a few things that can be made from recycled materials.
12) What are some hazardous waste materials that should not be thrown in the trash can?
13) Do you recycle in your house? If you do, please explain the process. If not, can you come up with a plan to implement recycling in your home?