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Demand for Resources

Demand for Resources

The world is rich in resources for food, energy and water. As technology advanced and accessibility to these resources grew, exploitation and overuse became more apparent. The Global Footprint Network calculates that we use 1.7 Earths to provide resources and absorb waste.¹

Reasons for an increased demand for resources

The increasing demand for resources is due to:

1. Rising population – as the global population rises, more people means a greater need for resources.

2. Economic development – as populations become wealthier, more disposable income leads to increased consumption of resources.

This has led to land use changes, which threatens terrestrial carbon stores and affects both carbon and water cycles.

How the demand for resources changes land use

Land use change is usually triggered by human activity and can transform the natural landscape. In particular, let's look at an example of how forests are affected by the growing demand for resources.

Forest loss

Forest loss has become a problem partly due to the rising demand for biofuels such as palm oil. To meet this demand, oil palm trees are grown on deforested land. Tropical rainforests in South-East Asia are being deforested to form large scale palm oil plantations. This process leads to huge amounts of carbon dioxide released because rainforests are carbon pools. Deforestation also destroys any biodiversity that the rainforest houses.

Demand for resources, deforestation for palm oil plantation, StudysmarterDeforestation for palm oil plantation, Indonesia. Image: Aidenvironment, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 2.0

Forest recovery

As a reaction to forest loss, in May 2011, Indonesia's president declared a 'forest moratorium' to try to reduce deforestation. With the help of funding from the UN and the Norwegian government, this stopped permits being issued to clear primary forests for peatland for timber, wood pulp, or palm oil. In May 2015, the moratorium was extended and led to a reduction of carbon dioxide emissions of 26% by 2020. However, there were many loopholes – such as not stopping projects that were given permits before 2011 – and illegal logging continues. Due to this, there was only a reduction of 15% in clearance.²

The Kuznets curve

The Kuznets curve is a hypothesis developed by Simon Kuznets in the 1950s and 1960s. It describes how as economic development advances, there is a point when human development, water, and food supplies are stable. Many people have started to realise that environmental care for the planet is important.

Demand for resources, Kuznets curve, StudysmarterFig. 2 - The Kuznet's curve

Effects of deforestation

Deforestation is when a long-established woodland is removed.

The opposite of deforestation is reforestation which means replanting a forest. Afforestation is planting a forest that hasn't existed for a significant amount of time.

Impact on carbon stores

Deforestation has a major impact on the size of terrestrial carbon stores. Removing forests affects both fluxes and stores as there's a reduction in carbon dioxide absorbed by the stores and the atmosphere. The amount stored in biomass above and below ground decomposes to release more carbon dioxide.

Demand for resources, Diagram of carbon stores in deforestation, StudysmarterFig. 3 - Carbon stores and deforestation

Impact on water cycles

Deforestation decreases infiltration and interception, which causes soil erosion and surface runoff. This means more eroded material is carried in the river, as bed load, silt, and clay in suspension. This increases discharge and the risk of flooding. In addition, annual rainfall is reduced without vegetation returning the water to the atmosphere by evapotranspiration.

Impact on the biosphere

Deforestation can reduce species diversity (e.g. less resilient forest plants die off), so fewer animal species survive when habitats decrease. This can lead to biomass loss due to reduced plant growth and photosynthesis. This can lower the absorption of carbon dioxide, reducing the carbon store.

Other impacts of the demand for resources

The atmosphere

Deforestation can increase turbulence as the ground is heated, inducing convectional air currents. It also decreases oxygen content as transpiration rates are lower. Evapotranspiration rates are lower, making the air dryer and less humid.

In the ocean

Ocean acidification results from the ocean absorbing the increased carbon dioxide from human activities. This acidity leads to coral not absorbing the alkaline calcium carbonate it needs to maintain its skeleton. The coral then begins to dissolve.

On land

The amplification of the greenhouse effect by increasing carbon emissions leads to global climate change. This causes rising sea levels, frequent and intense storms, hurricanes, floods, droughts and heatwaves. Arid areas and semi-arid areas will likely expand to continental areas of Asia as well as parts of northern and sub-Saharan Africa.

Strategies for the future

Climate scientists have warned that the rapid melting of the Arctic ice cap could cause uncontrollable climate change. As energy consumption continues to rise, it is expected that greenhouse gas emissions will rise as well. To tackle this situation, the IPCC outlines two approaches:

  1. Adaptive strategies

  2. Mitigation strategies

Adaptive strategies

Adaptive strategies are strategies to adopt a new way of doing things to live with the possible outcomes of climate change. They include water conservation and management, land use planning and flood risk management, resilient agricultural systems and conservation cropping and solar radiation management.

Mitigation strategies

Mitigation strategies are strategies that re-balance the carbon cycle and reduce the effect of climate change. Examples of mitigation strategies would be carbon taxation, energy efficiency, afforestation and reforestation, renewable switching and carbon capture storage.


Demand for Resources - Key takeaways

  • Rising population and economic growth are driving factors for the growing demand for resources.
  • This demand for resources causes land use changes, threatening terrestrial carbon stores and affecting carbon and water cycles.
  • This demand for resources is influencing the earth. It is apparent in ocean acidification and drought.
  • The IPCC suggests strategies for the future to tackle this situation with adaptive and mitigation strategies

1. https://www.footprintnetwork.org/our-work/ecological-footprint/

2. https://news.mongabay.com/2019/08/indonesia-forest-clearing-ban-is-made-permanent-but-labeled-propaganda/

Images

Deforestation: https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10605283

The Kuznets curve: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kuznets_curve#/media/File:Environmental_Kuznets_Curve.png

Carbon stores: https://www.grida.no/resources/6948

Frequently Asked Questions about Demand for Resources

There is an increase in demand for resources due to population growth and rising levels of living standards.

Examples of resources are air, water, minerals and metals.

The determinant of demand for a productive resource is how productive the producing output is compared with the price of the output.

A resource in geography is a physical material that is part of the Earth that people need and deem as valuable.

The increase in demand for resources affect the environment as raw material extraction and processing can result in processing soil degradation, water degradation, biodiversity loss and damage to ecosystems.

Final Demand for Resources Quiz

Question

What is driving the demand for resources?

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Answer

Rising population and economic growth.

Show question

Question

What is the problem with forest loss?

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Answer

Forest loss is continuing to become a problem as rising demand for biofuels such as palm oil are grown on land that has been deforested to make space to grow these trees.

Show question

Question

What are the consequences of tropical rainforests in Southeast Asia being deforested for large scale palm oil plantations?

Show answer

Answer

This process leads to huge amounts of carbon dioxide being released and destroys any biodiversity the rainforest houses.

Show question

Question

What is a 'forest moratorium'?

Show answer

Answer

The moratorium stops the conversion of primary natural forests and peatlands for oil palm, pulpwood and logging concessions with the help of funding from the UN and Norwegian government.

Show question

Question

What were the problems with Indonesia's 2011 'forest moratorium'?

Show answer

Answer

In May 2015, the moratorium was extended and led to a reduction of carbon dioxide emissions by 26% by 2020. There were many loopholes such as not being able to stop projects that were given permits before 2011, and illegal logging still continues.

Show question

Question

What is the Kuznets curve?

Show answer

Answer

Kuznets curve is a hypothesis developed by Simon Kuznets in the 1950s and 1960s. It is about how as economic development advances, there is a point when human development, water and food supplies are stable and many people start to realise that environmental care for the planet is important.

Show question

Question

What is deforestation?

Show answer

Answer

Deforestation is when a long-established woodland is removed and afforestation is when a forest is planted which hasn't existed for a significant amount of time.

Show question

Question

What is the opposite of deforestation?

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Answer

The opposite would be reforestation which is replanting a forest.

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Question

What is afforestation?


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Answer

Afforestation is when a forest is planted which hasn't existed for a significant amount of time.

Show question

Question

What is the impact of deforestation on the water cycle?

Show answer

Answer

Deforestation decreases infiltration and interception which causes soil erosion and surface runoff which means more eroded material is carried in the river, as bed load, silt and clay in suspension. This increases discharge and the risk of flooding. Another factor would be without vegetation returning the water to the atmosphere by evapotranspiration, annual rainfall is reduced.

Show question

Question

What is the impact of deforestation on the carbon cycle?


Show answer

Answer

Deforestation has a major impact on the size of terrestrial carbon stores. Removing forests affects both fluxes and stores as there's a reduction in carbon dioxide being absorbed by the stores and in the atmosphere, and the amount stored in biomass above and below ground decomposes to release more carbon dioxide.

Show question

Question

What is the impact of deforestation on the biosphere?


Show answer

Answer

Deforestation can lead to reduced species diversity (eg. less resilient forest plants die off) so when habitats decrease fewer animal species survive. This can lead to biomass loss as there is reduced plant growth and photosynthesis. This can also lead to less absorption of carbon dioxide and reduces the carbon store.

Show question

Question

What is ocean acidification?


Show answer

Answer

Ocean acidification is a result of the ocean absorbing more carbon dioxide because of human activities. This acidity leads to coral not being able to absorb the alkaline calcium carbonate it needs to maintain its skeleton. It begins to dissolve.

Show question

Question

What are adaptive strategies?


Show answer

Answer

Adaptive strategies are strategies to adopt a new way of doing things in order to live with what might happen due to climate change. This includes water conservation and management, land use planning and flood risk management, resilient agricultural systems and conservation cropping and solar radiation management.

Show question

Question

What are mitigation strategies?


Show answer

Answer

Mitigation strategies are strategies that re-balance the carbon cycle and reduce the effect of climate change. Examples of mitigation strategies would be, carbon taxation, energy efficiency, afforestation and reforestation, renewable switching and carbon capture storage.

Show question

Question

On Earth, water is found in 3 states of matter. Which states and where do you find them?

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Answer

  1. solid - ice in glaciers and snow at the North and South Poles
  2. liquid - oceans, rivers, lakes, streams, and in the soil underground
  3. gas - water vapours, found in the Earth's atmosphere

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Question

Where on Earth can you find water?

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Answer

  • Oceans, seas, and bays
  • Ice caps, glaciers, and permanent snow
  • Groundwater
  • Soil moisture
  • Ground ice and permafrost
  • Lakes
  • Atmosphere
  • Swamp water
  • Rivers
  • Biological water

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Question

What is running water in geography?


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Answer

In geography, a river is what is called 'running water'. It refers to a mass of water that flows over the land surface from its source and usually empties into the seas, lakes, swamps or depressions

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Why is water important?


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Answer

All of the above

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Question

What is the water cycle?


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Answer

The water cycle is the path that all water follows as it moves around the planet. It follows a cycle of evaporation, condensation and precipitation. This is also known as the hydrological cycle. 

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Question

Which processes make up the water cycle?


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Answer

  1. Evaporation
  2. Condensation
  3. Precipitation
  4. Runoff
  5. Transpiration
  6. Evapotranspiration

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Question

What is a water deficit?


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Answer

A water deficit, also known as water stress, happens when the water demand (far) exceeds the water supply. This can occur in areas with low precipitation, high evaporation rates, high population density, or any combination thereof. 

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Question

Water deficit can be divided into which 2 scarcity types?


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Answer

  1. Physical water scarcity - there is not enough water due to physical reasons, such as climatic reasons
  2. Economic water scarcity - there is enough water but no economic means to access it or make it safe to drink

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What does a water surplus mean?


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Answer

This is when the water supply of a country/region exceeds the water demands

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What is a water supply system?


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Answer

A water system, or water supply system, is the infrastructure for collecting, transmitting, treating, storing, and distributing water

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Question

What are the 2 main reasons for an increase in global water consumption?


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Answer

  1. Rising populations
  2. Economic development

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Question

Which factors affects water availability?


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Answer

  • Climate
  • Geology
  • Pollution
  • Over-abstractions
  • Limited infrastructure
  • Poverty

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Question

What does water supply in geography mean?


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Answer

By water supply, we mean the provision of water by public utilities, commercial organisations, community endeavours, or individuals. A system of pumps and pipes usually accomplishes this. 

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Question

Explain 'water table'.


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Answer

The water table is an underground boundary between the soil surface and the area where groundwater saturates between sediments and cracks in rocks. At this boundary, both water and atmospheric pressures are equal.

The water table is also known as the level of groundwater

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What does water management mean in simple terms?


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Answer

Water management is the control of water resources to minimise damage to life and property to maximise efficient, beneficial use

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Why is water resource management needed?


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Answer

It is needed to prevent water shortages. These shortages will not only lead to fewer people having access to clean drinking water, but it will also lead to conflicts between countries/regions over access to water resources and the sharing of water

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What is climate change?

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Answer

The long-term shifts in the climate

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Name some examples of climate change

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Answer

Global warming; changes in precipitation; extreme weather events

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How is climate change affecting extreme weather events?

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Answer

It is making them more frequent and more intense

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What is the evidence of global warming?

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Answer

Melting ice; rising sea levels and higher recorded temperatures

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Name some examples of extreme weather events:

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Answer

  • Tropical storms/cyclones

  • Heatwaves/cold waves

  • Droughts/floods

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What is the greenhouse effect?

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Answer

Where more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere trap solar radiation and cause the Earth to warm up

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What are natural causes of climate change?

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Answer

Changes in the Earth's orbit and natural fluctuations in the climate budget

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Name 2 ways that humans are altering the carbon cycle:

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Answer

Deforestation and the extraction and burning of fossil fuels

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Question

True or false: some people are more affected by climate change than others

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Answer

True

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Which organisation was set up to share information about climate change?

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Answer

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)

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What are the effects of climate change?


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Answer

Climate change affects the environment (melting ice/glaciers; more frequent and intense extreme weather events and sea level rise); society (death; displacement and political tensions) and economics (causing financial crisis). 

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Which cycles strongly affect and are affected by climate change?

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Answer

Water and carbon

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What will happen if climate change is not addressed soon?

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Answer

Irreversible damage to the planet

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Question

By how much has the average land surface temperature increased since 1850-1900?

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Answer

+1.59°C

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How much have the oceans acidified since 1750?

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Answer

30%

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Why are climate adaptation strategies important?

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Answer

All of the above!

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Question

What is the primary greenhouse gas that causes climate change?

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Answer

Carbon dioxide

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What is climate mitigation?

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Answer

Mitigation strategies are strategies aimed at reducing or preventing climate change from happening. It includes:

  • Alternative energy
  • Carbon capture
  • Planting trees
  • International agreements

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Question

What are examples of adaptation practices?


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Answer

Some examples of adaptation practices include:

  • Changing agricultural systems
  • Managing water supplies
  • Reducing the risk from rising sea levels (e.g. through the construction of higher land/infrastructure)

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