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Human and Natural Hazard Impacts: Uneven Distribution of Resources

The Problem

WHAT IS THE PROBLEM? My teacher just shared the graphic below with my science class and asked us if we thought it was accurate?  She explained to us that it is showing estimates of when the planet will run out of certain resources based upon current consumption rates.  My teacher even shared that some minerals like diamonds will run out in the next 20 years.  My table and I talked about it and thought it could be possible.  For instance we’ve always known that oil is a fossil fuel and will run out one day.  But there are alternatives to using oil.  My aunt for instance has a hybrid car with a lithium battery and Mike said his uncle is getting ready to buy a Chevy Volt, an all electric car.  So, we must be getting close to changing over.  George knew that gold is used inside cell phone wiring, and jewelry. Which is when I remembered that, my cell phone and I-pad battery are made out of lithium.  Kyle said his cousin was injured in the war and now has a leg made out of Titanium because it is super strong and lightweight.  Mark knew diamonds are supposed to be the hardest substance in the world, but people mainly use them for jewelry, so we still don’t see the big deal there.   



Natural resources

Mineral resources

Energy resources

Non-renewable resources

Mineral formation

Geoscience processes

Distribution of resources (maps)

Uses for minerals

Uses for diamonds

Uses for titanium

Formation of titanium, diamonds, copper, lithium


ore deposit

energy consumption

mineral reserves

Perpetual Resources

Renewable Resources


Fossil fuel

Geothermal power

Nuclear reactor


Solar power



Natural Resource Conservation



6th grade


Mineral Energy Groundwater

Books and Videos

Standards addressed

NGSS Standards

MS-ESS3-1. Construct a scientific explanation based on evidence for how the uneven distributions of Earth’s mineral, energy, and groundwater resources are the result of past and current geoscience processes.

MS-ESS3-4. Construct an argument supported by evidence for how increases in human population and per-capita consumption of natural resources impact Earth’s systems


RST.6-8.1 - Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts. (MS-ESS3-1)
SL.8.5 - Integrate multimedia and visual displays into presentations to clarify information, strengthen claims and evidence, and add interest. (MS-ESS2-1)
WHST.6-8.2 - Write informative/explanatory texts, including the narration of historical events, scientific procedures/ experiments, or technical processes. (MS-ESS3-1)
WHST.6-8.9 - Draw evidence from informational texts to support analysis reflection, and research. (MS-ESS3-1)

I wonder

I wonder who’s using all these resources and why?  How did these resources form in the first place and where are they?  Will these resources form again?  If so, how long will it take for new resources to form?  Are diamonds really needed?  What other resources are we running out of and how quickly?  Are there alternatives for each of them?

Are there steps people can take immediately to lessen their use of these resources?  Could lithium be in short supply because we are now using too much of it for car batteries?  Uranium is used in nuclear power plants to produce energy and is supposed to help replace our reliance upon oil and coal, but it’s radioactive.  So is it a good replacement if it’s dangerous and also in short supply?

Is using lithium batteries in devices better than using oil?  Or is it just using another limited resource.  Is there a renewable energy source that can be used to power cars and electronic devices?



Ever since the earth was inhabited, humans and other life forms have depended on things that exist freely in nature to survive. These things include water (seas and fresh water), land, soils, rocks, forests (vegetation), animals (including fish), fossil fuels and minerals. They are called Natural Resources and are the basis of life on earth.

All these mentioned above are natural, and they exist in nature. No human created them. We tap into their supply to survive and also to function properly. Natural resources are all connected in a way. Therefore if one is taken away, it will affect the supply or quality of all others. For example, if water is eliminated from an area, the vegetation, soils, animals and even the air in that area will be affected negatively.

Below is a simple illustration of some great things that we get from some natural resources.

Nonrenewable Resources

Database Articles

Gale Science in Context

Can Limited Resources Lead To Better Innovation? (2015, July 17). NPR: Economy.

Nonrenewable resources. (2011). In Environmental Encyclopedia. Gale.

Natural Resources. (2010). In A. B. Cobb (Ed.), Animal Sciences. New York: Macmillan Reference USA.

Resources, Renewable and Nonrenewable. (2008). In Earth Sciences for Students. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA.

 Rampell, C. (2013, May 26). Up, Up and Away. New York Times, p. 4(L).

Oil and Gas: Reserves, Prospecting for, Recovery of. (2008). In Earth Sciences for Students. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA.

Alternative Energy Sources. (2015). In A. H. Blackwell & E. Manar (Eds.), UXL Encyclopedia of Science (3rd ed.). Farmington Hills, MI: UXL.

Are We Headed Toward Extinction? (2008, August 8). Talk of the Nation: Science Friday.