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Natural Resources Global Distribution

Throughout history, mankind has depended on the environment for survival. Even before the dawn of technology, humans needed food in the form of plants and/or animals, wood to build shelter, and fresh sources of drinking water to live. As technology progressed, humans started using more materials from their surroundings to manufacture tools, weapons, and supplies. Materials that come from the environment are called natural resources. Natural resources are the land and raw materials that occur naturally in the environment. Today, there are established political boundaries that divide up the natural resources of the earth. Each country manages its own natural resources, selling what it has in excess and buying what it lacks.

Think about an average home. What are the raw materials needed to make the products that are found in homes? From the building’s structure, to all of the belongings and food found within, the materials and resources had to come from somewhere. With today’s global market, people have the ability to ship materials all around the globe. Economies depend on this movement of goods to thrive. These resources include things like crops, animals, oil, coal, natural gas, gold, silver, copper, iron, diamonds, and water just to name a few.

This week, you will think more about what resources exist around the globe and how they are managed. Some of these resources are renewable, meaning that they can be replaced or replenished. Others are considered non-renewable because they cannot be replaced once they are consumed, or can only be replaced over geologic time (thousands of years). Another term that is often used in conjunction with natural resources is “sustainable.” A sustainable resource is one that can be replaced at the rate that it is being used, which supports its long-term use.

The United States is a large country with many natural resources. You can learn more about how the U.S. manages these resources at the following sites:

Committee on Natural Resources. Retrieved from http://naturalresources.house.gov/

USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. Retrieved from http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/

Natural Resources: EPA. Retrieved from http://www.epa.gov/energy

This week, you will have to conduct research as follows:

Pick a country that you are interested in learning more about (do not pick the U.S.) and review the country’s natural resources. If you are having trouble getting started, try typing the name of the country that you are interested in along with “natural resources” into a search engine and/or you can take a look at the following site:

The World Factbook: CIA. Retrieved from https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/

Next, select one of the natural resources found in your country of choice above and conduct additional research to determine how it is distributed around the world versus your country of choice.

  1. What country did you pick and what are its primary natural resources?
  2. What interesting information did you learn about this country’s resources in general? For example:
    • Are they plentiful in one type of resource yet lacking in others compared to other countries? Discuss.
    • Have there been any conflicts (e.g., war) over natural resources in the country that you researched? If so, which ones? What was the conflict? Has it been resolved? How?
    • Are there any interesting ways in which the country manages its resources? Does its management of these resources differ from that of other countries?
    • What natural resources are most important to its economy?
  3. What interesting information did you learn about this resource in particular? For example:
    • How has it been used throughout history?
    • How is distributed around the world? Is there a reason why it might be in one area versus another?
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