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Natural Resources The big 3 resources: Why Water Resources ... · PDF fileNatural Resources Water resource ... August 1985 North Colorado River Pacific Ocean Salton Sea ... (REEs?)

Aug 10, 2018




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    Natural Resources

    Water resource issues & trends

    Scale of mineral and energy resource use

    Major energy sources

    Trends in mineral and energy resource use with time

    Economic factors resource costs, international relations

    Sustainable resource use, energy efficiency, & recycling

    The big 3 resources: Water, Minerals, & Energy


    Everything that we do requires energy!Almost everything requires mineral & rock resources!

    Everyone needs water for basic survival.

    Natural resources news and information (updated often by Dr. Kuehn):

    Why Water Resources Matterand why they require careful, informed management


    Toward Water Sustainability: A Blueprint

    Why Water Resources Matterand why they require careful, informed management


    The Environmental Cost Of Growing Food

    The Central Valley is sinking: drought forces farmers to ponder the abyss

    Draining Oregon Creeks and wells in crisis (multi-part series)

    What Happens to the U.S. Midwest When the Water's Gone?

    A third of the worlds biggest groundwater basins are in distress - Reserves likely far smaller than previously thought

    More than half of south Asia's groundwater too contaminated to use

    The demise of the Maya civilization: water shortage can destroy cultures

    Israel Proves the Desalination Era Is Here (July 2016)

    Vital Water Graphics United Nations

    4Availability of Water Sources

    Vital Water Graphics United Nations

    5Availability of Water Sources

    Fig. 10.17 Keller, Environmental Geology

    Water Resource Use by source: surface vs. ground water

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    Worldwide, agriculture uses about 75% of global water consumption and industry 20% (electricity production is also a major user)

    Fig. 12.17 Understanding Earth

    7Water Resource Use by purpose 8Water Resource Use and US Economic Growth

    Via @PeterGleick

    Overuse of groundwater depresses the water table and can change the direction of groundwater flow. Water also can flow underground from wetlands toward the area of lowered water table, possibly causing the wetlands to go dry. Land areas can sink. Near oceans, sea water can seep in.

    Fig. 15-18 Geology 2nd edition - Chernicoff

    9Effects of Using Groundwater

    Fig. 10.13 Keller, Environmental Geology

    Groundwater use exceeds recharge in much of the U.S. and many other places around the world. What are the consequences?


    Dropping well water levels in California

    Vital Water Graphics United Nations

    In many places, much of the water in the ground has been there for a very long time. Some of this water is left over from a time when the local climate was wetter than today. When this very old or fossil water is used, it is may not be replaced by modern-day recharge. Use of such water sometimes is called water miningsince the resource is limited and may eventually run out just like when mineral resources are mined.


    Center-pivot irrigation in a desert region, Saudi Arabia, January 1990The water being extracted to irrigate these fields entered deep aquifers at a time when the climate was much wetter than it is today. The amount of this fossil water is limited, and eventually the wells may go dry. Water left behind by ancient wetter climates is being used in many parts of the world. image from NASA



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    13Global Use of Non-renewable Water Supplies(by nation as a percent)

    Wada,Y. 2012, Non-sustainable groundwater sustaining irrigation, GWF Discussion Paper 1205, Global Water Forum:


    Lighter Blue: irrigation using surface water and renewable groundwaterGreen: soil water from local rainfallDarker Blue: non-renewable water useLarger circles = more total water use

    Irrigated agriculture in a desert, Southern California and Northwestern MexicoAgricultural field patterns stand out in contrast to the natural desert landscape. Two rivers, the Colorado and the Gila, are the major sources of water for this arid region. Because of water use for agriculture and other activities, the Colorado River usually goes dry before it reaches the ocean.

    NASA photo taken August 1985


    Colorado River

    Pacific Ocean

    Salton Sea

    Overuse of water also occurs with our limited supplies of surface water San Diego



    California Drought - Folsom Lake example

    Left: July 20, 2011 - 97 percent of total capacity

    Right: Jan. 16, 2014 - 17 percent of capacity

    Why Mineral Resources Matter; Mining for Minerals; Economics16

    Elemental Urgency: Most Metals Have Inadequate or Nonexistent Alternatives

    A world of minerals in your mobile device

    Inside the Billion-Dollar Dig to Americas Biggest Copper Deposit

    New technique to find copper deposits

    High in the Andes, A Mine Eats a 400-Year-Old City

    Think about a world without roads, rails & airplane runways

    Source: Mineral Information Institute

    17At current rates of consumption,

    See also: The Importance of Minerals and Mining about a world without roads, rails & airplane runways

    Fig. 14.21 Keller, Environmental Geology

    Stages and Flow of Materials in Resource Use

    Mining's Hard Rock Legacy


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    Reichard Environmental Geology

    19Resource Trends and Economics

    Reichard Environmental Geology

    U.S. Energy Use Trends Long Term20

    Fig. 22-3 Understanding Earth 3rd edition

    Origin of stored energy in fossil fuels

    fossil sunshine

    Cycle of CO2 and H2O in the Production and Consumption of Organic Matter and Fossil Fuels

    (Part of the global carbon cycle)

    21Where our energy comes from

    Fig. 15.30 Keller, Environmental Geology

    Renewable Energy Options

    Other, non-solar sources:

    Geothermal Tides Etc.


    Fig. 14.2 Keller, Environmental Geology

    Classification of Mineral & Fossil Fuel Resources

    Importance of Economics and Technology in Resource Extraction



    If the unconventional oil and more difficult/lower grade sources are included, we

    wont run out any time soon.

    What are the costs?

    Oil Cost of Production

    Its not just oil. Coal mining keeps getting more

    expensive too.

    What it costs to produce a barrel of oil is a major control on who can make a profit as oil prices change.

    In recent years, fracking has completely changed the economics of extracting oil and gas

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    Reichard Environmental Geology


    Reichard Environmental Geology

    Efficiency has big potential to change

    the energy and materials markets


    If only a fraction of the energy goes where we

    need it, what happens to the rest?

    Overall energy efficiency in the U.S. is estimated at less than



    LEDs are even better (REEs?)


    U.S. energy trends and efficiency:


    Mining for metals in societ

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