The increasing pressure on the resources of the world because of the rapid population growth and economic development has meant that management of resources has become imperative. Management can take a number of forms, some of which are explored in detail here:
- The finite nature of fossil fuels has led to the development of alternative energy producing methods. Although not strictly a method of renewable energy, nuclear power was seen during the 1960's and 1970's as the perfect answer to the problem. Accidents, such as Chernobyl, and the danger of radioactive leaks have meant that now other energy forms are being sought. The most commonly used one is hydroelectric power, whilst wind power, solar power and geothermal energy have all been successfully harnessed on a smaller scale.
- Conservation of resources is a vital part of management. This includes natural resources such as areas of scenic beauty as well as the efficient use of things like minerals and forests.
- Resource substitution is where easily re-usable materials are used rather than the original materials. It comes under the banner of conservation.
- Recycling is a vitally important part of the management of natural resources.
- Pollution Controls have been introduced to try to reduce emissions from the use of fossil fuels and other natural resources. They have been heavily polluting other natural resources such as the atmosphere and the oceans, causing problems from a local to global scale.
Running water, either directly from a fast flowing river, or usually from a river that has been dammed, turns turbines in the power station. These turn generators that produce electricity that is then fed into the national system. Hydroelectric power (HEP) only forms about 8% of the world's energy production, but some countries rely on it almost exclusively. It has been introduced to developing countries, such as Brazil and Ghana; to help their industrial growth as well as being used in more developed countries like Norway and New Zealand.
- Requirements: The only requirement is a suitable, fast flowing river and an area to flood with the reservoir that is formed behind the dam. HEP schemes have to be in areas of consistently good rainfall.
- Advantages: It is a relatively cheap form of energy production, once the initial costs of building the dam have been met. The water can be used for other purposes as it just flows through the turbines and out the other side. It produces very little pollution. The reservoirs provide areas that can be used for tourism development. The dams can help to control the flood risk further down the river.
- Disadvantages: Not every country has suitable sites for the dam and reservoir. The reservoir may flood towns and villages,causing lots of people to have to re-locate. It may also flood prime valley-floor farmland. The dams are not things of particular beauty and so may spoil the natural environment.
Wind power is being harnessed using massive modern wind turbines. In the past windmills have been used for power in places like Holland, but these new ones are quite different in shape. They stand approximately 25-30 metres high, and are made of fibreglass. Wind Farms have been set up, like the one at Delabole in Cornwall, in many areas of the UK. Very simply the wind turns the turbine, which turns a generator, which produces electricity.
- Requirements:Exposed hilltops are the usual location for a wind farm. They need somewhere with a fairly constant supply of wind, so many in the UK are located either on the coast or in high moorland. With the exception of three, they are all towards the West of the country because the prevailing winds blow from the southwest.
- Advantages: Wind farms are cheap to run and produce very little pollution. Wind turbines take up very little space on the ground, so the land around them could still potentially be farmed.
- Disadvantages: They are fairly costly to set up. They produce only a small amount of electricity, although that is improving. The wind does not necessarily blow all the time. They are eyesores,spoiling the natural environment of the area. They can be noisy, disturbing local people. They disrupt TV signals in the area.
Solar panels are used to convert the energy from the sun into power.
- Requirements: The most obvious one is that you need the sun. Countries like Australia are perfect for solar power as there is a fairly high chance of prolonged sunshine. The UK would not be so suitable. Many developing countries in Africa could potentially make good use of solar power.
- Advantages: It is a limitless supply of energy, that is completely pollution free. It is a very efficient form of energy production.
- Disadvantages: You need the sunny conditions.It is expensive to set up and at the moment really can only produce a minimal amount of energy. Winter, when more energy is needed, does not have as much sun as the summer.
Countries like New Zealand and Iceland have exploited their natural resources to use geothermal energy. Water is piped down in to the ground in areas where volcanic activity is close to the surface. The water is heated and turns to steam. This is then used to turn turbines, which turn generators and produce power.
- Requirements: There is only one main requirement, and that is that the area must be one where volcanic activity means that the rock near the surface is heated. If this occurs, the being beside a river is beneficial because of the need for water.
- Advantages: It is a completely renewable source of energy, using only the heat of the Earth and water. It is pollution free and does not change with the season, as some of the other sources do.
- Disadvantages: It is a very costly form of energy to set up. A volcanic area is needed. Volcanic areas are susceptible to not just eruptions, but also earthquakes, so the power station may be in a dangerous area.
As stated before the conservation of resources is a vital part of resource management. Schemes include national conservation plans for areas of natural beauty and importance, like wetlands and coral reefs. However they also include smaller scale schemes where people are educated in how to help conserve resources. Things like saving water, switching off lights to save energy, and education about how to treat the countryside all help to look after the resources of the world.
Forestry is one industry where the conservation of resources is very important. In some countries the natural wood resources are exploited, never to be replaced. However an increasing amount of countries are introducing schemes to re-forest areas once the trees have been cut down,so that they can be harvested again once they have grown. These are fast growing coniferous trees that take only about 25 years to reach maturity.
Conserving and managing fishing stocks is also a very important management issue. Over fishing an area can mean that there will be a declining number of fish every year. By introducing fish quota's, saying how much each boat can catch each year, and by introducing rules about not fishing during the spawning season, fish stocks should be able to be conserved.
Recycling is a vitally important part of the management of natural resources. Bottle banks, paper and tin recycling are all common features of our lives now, and they all help conserve the resources of the world. There are many other natural products that can be recycled and the more that there are, the better for the remaining natural resources.
Pollution Controls have been introduced to try to reduce emissions from the use of fossil fuels and other natural resources. They have been heavily polluting other natural resources such as the atmosphere and the oceans, causing problems from a local to global scale.
Fossil Fuel power stations release harmful carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which adds to the greenhouse effect. They also contribute emissions to acid rain. Controlling pollution like this has to be done on a government level, and in the UK tough new controls on the amounts of pollution allowed by power stations have been introduced.
Cars are one of the worst polluters in the world, giving off a variety of harmful gases, including carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide. There are more and more cars on the roads and this trend will surely continue. Not only do cars pollute, but they also use up the oil reserves of the world. Initiatives to make cars cleaner and more fuel efficient have been introduced relatively successfully, for instance all new cars now have to have catalytic converters.The problem is that all of these things add to the price of the car, and the manufacturer doesn't want to put the prices up because they may lose customers.It is a difficult balance.