Resources can be divided into three types:
- Natural Resources
- Human Resources (the skills of a population in a society)
- Material or capital resources (the goods and equipment already in place in a society)
In many contect the term resources is taken to mean natural resoucres. The definition of which is: Those things found in the batural world that are of use to us, and that we have the technology and willingness to use.
Resources also include those found in the natural environment such as water, air and the biosphere.
- Non - renewable resources - like coal, oil or diamonds - cannot be remade, because it would take millions of years for them to form again. They exist in a fixed amount that is gradually (and sometimes rapdily) being used up.
- Sone sustainable resources - like wood - can be deliberately renewed. This means that they can be managed so that they are usable now but will also last into the future.
- Some sustainable resources - like solar power or wind power - renew themselves, and do not need to be managed.
Benefits and Costs
One way of assesign resources is to look at the benefits that come from their use and compare tghese with the costs. This can be difficult because some of the costs and benefits can be indirect and even unintentional. These factors are important today becasue we are facing a future in which cheap oil is running out and alternative enbergy will need to fill and increasing gap between demand and supply. For example:
Solar energy - On one hand, solar energy is unlimited and it is environmentally friendly with mininal carbon emissions after initial panel production. There are also new thin panels that are being developed that will be much more efficient than the present technology.
On the other hand, it is intermittent, so back up systems and new ways of storing electricity are needed. The current production is tiny and it is also very expensivce. Presnt pannels last about 20 years and for houshold usage do not pay for themsleves. Also, huge panels are required to produce significant amounts of energy.
The Malthusian Theory and the Boserup Theory
- Malthus believed that because population increases in a different way (and faster) way than the food supply, there would inevitably come a time when the world could not cope. He argued that the population would increase geometrically but the food supply on the other hand would increase arithmically becasue improvements in farming could only come gradually.
- Boserup on the other hand, had a very different view. She suggested that population growth has a positive impact on people that will enable them to cope, becasue as resources start to run out we are forced to invent or innovate our way out of the problem.
Corperate Action to Reduce Resource Demand
Companies have mission statements that frequently talk in terms of striving for sustainability. The companies have identified seven goals to improve its environmental performance:
- Eliminating waste - in every area of business
- Benign emissions - eliminating toxic substances from products, vehicles and facilities
- Using renewable energy sources - solar wind, biomass, geothermal, tidal, etc.
- Closing the loop - redesigning processes and products to close the technical loop using recovered and bio-based materials
- Using resource efficient transport - to reduce waste and emissions
- Creating a culture amongst stakeholders that integrates sustainability principles and improves their lives
- Creating a new business model that demonstrates the value of sustainability - based commerce.