Changes in the definition of resources over time Essay

To what extent do changes in technology and society result in changes in the definition of resources? 30 Marks

This obtained 27/30 marks from my teacher, so I hope it helps. I took the OCR A2 Geography. 

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  • Created on: 23-06-11 16:44
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To what extent do changes in technology and society result in changes in the definition of
resources? (30)
Over the course of human history, changes in technology and society resulted in changes in
how we define a resource. More recently, with the advent of modern technology there have
been technological changes and exploration, extraction, transportation and processing of raw
materials which have made them economic viable to be called resources. Together with this,
changes in society's attitude to resourcing use as well as government legislation change the
demand for resources and so too, the definition.
Natural resources can be defined as stocks of physical assets that are not produced goods,
and that are valuable to humans". The term resource can also be sub defined in terms of its
renewability, i.e if it is theoretically inexhaustible. Resources can also be defined in terms it's
biotic nature. Biotic, meaning living, includes resources such as crops, domestic livestock
and wildlife. In contrast, abiotic includes resources which are nonliving such as wind, solar, oil,
copper etc. A further sub section of resources can be human and nonhuman. Nonhuman
resources of those such as word, copper and fossil fuels. Human resources can be thought of
in terms of human capital, vital to any society and economy.
By definition, a resource must be of value to humans, and therefore there must be the
technology available in which to find, exploit, process and use the resources. Over time, as
technology develops the resources available to us will change. For example, as the growth in
the nuclear industry grew in the 20th century, uranium is now considered a valuable resource
due to our ability to exploit, transport and use (as well as dispose of) it. In 1789, and uranium
with undiscovered, yet by 2008 there were 435 nuclear reactors worldwide in 30 countries
producing 17% of the world electricity.
It is important to to identify the importance of social attitudes in determining the value of
resources such as uranium to the nuclear industry. Firstly, government attitudes and
legislation in recent years in many more economically developed countries have aimed to
diversify energy sources to reduce their over reliance on finite fossil fuels such as oil.
Moreover, agreement such as the Kyoto agreement has placed increasing pressure on many
governments worldwide to adopt "greener" technologies in which to provide their nations
energy. To many countries, such as France to whom 75% of their energy comes from nuclear
power, uranium is a significantly valuable resource. Social attitudes towards uranium have
however been mixed. While many proposed the use of uranium as a clean and economically
viable energy solution, many people question its safety, particularly after Chernobyl and the
recent Fukushima nuclear disaster earlier this year.
It is also interesting to note that while a resource may technically be considered finite, such
as uranium or the sun for instance, this definition may change over time In terms of its
estimated "run out" time. Uranium can be looked at two ways, the current wasteful method
prescribed by the environmentalists that prevents recycling of all nuclear materials may run out
in 150 years. However with recycling and breeder reactors, that are currently banned by the
Carter Doctrine, they could last several million years or more with just known supplies. Once
this happens, the once said "finite" resource, may be considered, in relative human years, as
Government policies to have an important influence on social trends which impact our
demand from resources, and therefore their definition.The Californian government for

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This comes as pressure is mounting from the public and international governments of
the most polluting state in America, California, to adopt more forward thinking approaches to
its energy use. 100 years ago, before the photovoltaic cells were invented, use of the sun as
an energy source was only to be considered possible in terms of photosynthesis, however
with modern technology and changing social attitudes, new "Sun Farms" are being opened in
Southern California to meet this optimistic target.…read more


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