Earth Science: Geology, the Environment, and the Universe
Human Impact on Earth Resources
Earth resources can be derived from either living or nonliving things. Many
Earth resources are essential for life. Once used, some resources cannot be
replaced, whereas others can be replaced in relatively short periods of time.
The use of Earth resources must be balanced for life on Earth to continue.
Resources can be divided into two types: renewable and nonrenewable. Renewable
resources are those that we may use indefinitely without causing a reduction
in the available supply. Trees are examples of renewable resources, as well
as air, water, soil, and all other living things. Nonrenewable resources are
those that exist in a limited supply and might not be replenished as fast as
they are formed. Diamonds are examples of nonrenewable resources, as well as
fossil fuels and elements such as gold and silver.
Humans use resources every day to grow, develop, maintain life processes, and
reproduce; in doing so, we use both renewable and nonrenewable resources. Governments,
conservationists, economists, and others might ask the following questions in
their search for a balance of resource use and conservation:
- How do we use resources while ensuring that the same
resources will be available to future generations?
- How do the federal and state governments work with
communities and conservationists to ensure that resources are used wisely
- How do national and state parklands coexist with traffic
and tourism while protecting natural beauty?
- How do industries maintain sustainable ecosystems while
running economically viable operations?
- What role does the government play in mediating between
industry, tourism, and conservation?
In this WebQuest, you will explore ways that different governments and organizations
strive to maintain the “balancing act” between resource use and conservation.
Your job in this WebQuest is to learn about how resource management and resource
use are able to operate in balance with conservation of the environment, habitat,
and natural beauty. You will research important resources and parks nationally,
internationally, and in your own state. You will discover which organizations
work toward conservation and about regulations that are in place to limit or
control crowds in parks or overuse of resources by industry.
When you have completed this broad survey, you will consider parks, conservation,
industry, and tourism issues in your own area. How can your national, statewide,
or international knowledge of similar issues help with problem-solving at home?
You will demonstrate how studying the history of issues in other areas can help
you make good decisions for your local area.
Your task will be to produce a document or presentation that will use solid
scientific explanations to help citizens understand the importance of each angle
to the balancing act and to see solutions to a nearby problem.
Read through the following set of questions before you begin your internet
research. As you explore each site, look for answers to the questions.
- What resources are being used in your state?
- What are the major parks in your state?
- What regulations are in place in parks or wilderness areas? What is the
purpose of these regulations?
- What restrictions are placed on resource industries in your state?
- What international relationships exist between resource use and conservation?
- Are there any particular international hot spots for conservation and/or
resource use? Where are they? What organizations are involved in those places?
Do you feel a greater international effort is required?
Next, decide how this information could be used to change public attitudes
in ways that will help the balancing act. Consider all the angles involved,
- What employment opportunities are available in your community?
- How do you think the average citizen feels about having conservation objectives
carried out when it means the loss of their livelihood?
- What will happen if resources are allowed to be used at whatever rate people
want to use them?
Prepare a pamphlet, display, computer presentation, or brief report that could
be distributed at a community center or at a community information meeting.
Include scientific facts and information as well as details of recent government
and research initiatives. Try to write or present your information so that your
audience will understand more about both (or all three!) sides of the issue.
To help make your point, summarize situations, government policies, and conservation
efforts in other states or countries. What has happened in the past that has
worked well? What has failed? What types of cooperation and conservation efforts
are in place now that seem to work well?
ResourcesNew Mexico Information
U.S. Geological Survey
National Park Service
National Park Service and Mining
University of Montana College of Forestry and Conservation
USDA Forest Service National Workshop on Recreation Research and Management
Industrial Research Cooperative Forum
California's Department of Water Resources
United Nations Environment Program
You will have two weeks to find information on this topic to produce a report
or visual display.
In the process of completing this WebQuest, you have expanded your knowledge
of the balancing act that is required between resource use and conservation.
You have also:
- learned about some methods that are in place and about
organizations that work for resource shareholders and those that work for
- learned about cooperative efforts that are planned
for sustainable future activities.
- developed important critical thinking skills.
- learned that there are often many factors involved
in an issue and how to examine these different aspects.
- read information to answer key questions about a topic,
and you have formed your own educated opinion.
- learned about writing persuasively in order to convince
your audience, and put that to work by creating your own presentation.
These skills will serve you well as you form opinions on other issues in the
future. Congratulations on your hard work!