Big Idea: Society depends on natural resources for energy and materials.

Key Concept:  Natural resources support human activity.


1. Natural resource- Any energy source, organism, or substance found in nature that people use.

2. Renewable resource- A natural resource that can be replaced in nature at about the same rate it is used.

3. Nonrenewable resource- A natural resource that exists in a fixed amount or that is used up faster than it can be replaced in nature.

4. Fossil fuel- A nonrenewable energy source formed from ancient plants and animals buried in Earth’s crust for millions of years.


I.  Natural resources provide materials and energy

A.  The four parts of the Earth system- atmosphere, biosphere, geosphere, and hydrosphere- provide all the resources needed to sustain human life (Think: How?)

B.  We know that we have both costs and benefits when it comes to the use of natural resources

      1.  Burning coal:  produces heat but pollutes the air

      2.  Cutting trees:  produces paper but speeds up erosion


II.  Renewable Resources

                                                RESOURCE            COMMON USES



Power for solar cells and batteries, heating of homes and businesses, generating electricity



Power to move windmills that pump water, grind grain, and generate electricity



Power to generate electricity, transportation with boats and ships, drinking and washing



Materials for furniture, clothing, fuel, dyes, medicines, paper, cardboard, and generating electricity


Animal waste

Material for fuels


III.  Nonrenewable Resources

      A.  Generally, all resources produced by geologic forces over millions of years

B.  Today, people are using coal, oil, and natural gas much faster than they are forming in nature

C.  Conservation and renewable energy sources




Fuel to generate electricity, chemicals for medicines and consumer products



Fuel for cares, airplanes, trucks; fuel for heating and electricity; chemicals for plastics; synthetic fabrics, medicines, grease and wax


Natural gas

Fuel for heating, cooking, and generating electricity




Fuel to generate electricity



Materials for coins, jewelry, building, computer chips, lasers, household products, paint, and dyes


IV.  Fossil fuels supply most of society’s energy

      A.  The energy in these fuels represents a form of stored sunlight

      B.  Fossil fuel formation

            1.  Ancient organisms depended on the sun

            2.  Organisms die and are buried

            3.  They form layers at the bottom of oceans, ponds, and swamps

4.  Over a long period of time, the materials are compressed and pushed deeper into the crust

5.  High heat and pressure change them chemically into coal, oil, and natural gas

C.  Fossil fuels burn easily and produce a lot of heat

D.  Used to run most of the power plants that generate electricity


V.  Coal

      A.  Solid fossil fuel formed underground from buried and decayed plant material

      B.  World’s largest coal deposits are in the US, Russia, and China

      C.  Obtained through surface and deep mining (Think:  Pollution)

      D.  When burned as a fuel, has polluting byproducts

      E.  Society’s choice:  low energy costs and pollution vs. high energy costs and clean)


VI.  Oil and Natural Gas

      A.  Trapped underground in porous rock

B.  Heat and pressure force them upward until they can collect in a layer of nonporous rock

      C.  Wells can be drilled into this rock to tap into the oil and natural gas

      D.  Major deposits are found under oceans as well as the land

      E.  How does the oil get to the people?

1.     Recovered oil is transported by ships, trucks, and pipelines (pic

) from wells to refineries

2. Refineries use heat to break down the oil into its different parts

3. Each part is used to make different products

a. Jet fuel

b. Gasoline

c.  Cleaning supplies

d. Plastics

F.  Oil and natural gas are easily transported and release energy when burned, making them ideal home heating fuels

G.  Costs- oil spills and air pollution


VII.  Fossil fuels, minerals, and plants supply materials for modern products

      A.  Oil = plastics, gasoline

      B.  Minerals= cars, airplanes, tools, wires, computer chips building materials/cement

            *In the US one person uses 20,000 lbs. of minerals per year!!

C.  Plants = wood, utensils, paper, dyes, fibers, medicines