Natural resources are those resources which exist naturally and include air, land

Natural resources are those resources which exist naturally and include air, land, water, forest, wildlife, minerals etc. The value of a natural resource is in what it can produce and what people are willing to pay for it. While natural resources exist naturally, it needs to be harvested or produced before it can be consumed. Human resources are the skills and knowledge which humans have which are helpful in production. The more educated and skilled humans are the more value they have. In its raw form, both natural resource and human resource is of not much use. Land is a natural resource, but in order to be useful, it needs to be cultivated.

Similarly, a human who does not have any skills has very low value. Both these resources have to be worked upon so that they can be productive. However, there is only a finite value which can be added to a natural resource by working on it. Some natural resources may have more value than others but how much a resource is worth is determined by how much someone is willing to pay for it. On the other hand, the value of human resource progressively increases as humans acquire more skills. The more educated and skilled humans are the more value they have and there is no limit to the value of human resource.

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Countries, like Japan, which have a highly skilled work force, are much more advanced than countries where humans have low levels of education, even though they may be extremely rich in natural resources. So human resource is more important for a countrys future because the value of human resource can be increased indefinitely but there is only a finite value of natural resources. The facet that Japan, which has no natural resources is one of the richest country, while many African countries which are rich in diamonds are still extremely poor, proves that human resource is more important than natural resource.

In the 21st century, the less developed regions of world will see the maximum population growth. The South-east Asia, Indian subcontinent and Sub-Saharan Africa will see the maximum population growth in the coming years.

There are several reasons for this high population growth rate in these regions. One of the biggest reasons is the demographics of these countries which have a large population young people. Since women can bear children only for a limited number of years, a younger population will see a higher birth rate than an older population.

Another problem is that fertility rate remains high in these countries, as high as 4 children per woman in Africa. Because of lack of access to health care infant mortality rate remains high and so people are likely to have more children to compensate for this. Even when families want to have fewer children they do not have access to proper family planning methods. Also lack of education means that many people are not aware of the negative impacts of a large family and continue to be guided by outdated traditions.

Very high rates of poverty also lead to people having more children because more children means more people who can work and contribute to family income. Children in such families often start working at a very young age. Thus poverty, lack of education and lack of access to good medical care in developing countries is the reason why these regions are expected to see maximum population growth in the 21st century.

Dependency ratio is the ratio of the people who are too old or too young to work and those who are in the working age. Dependency ratio is arrived at by dividing the number of people who are below sixteen and above sixty four by the number of people aged 16 to 64. The dependency ratio is expressed as a percentage. A rising dependency ratio means that more people are dependent on lesser number of people who are able to support them. This is a cause of concern because it becomes difficult to provide pension and social security facilities to the older non-working population.

In the United States, the population is gradually becoming older and as the baby-boomers are nearing their retirement age, there is real fear of the dependency ratio rising beyond sustainable limits. As population ages, an increasing number of people become dependent on a smaller number of working adults as fewer people enter the workforce. In the US, the social security program is funded by the working population. As the number of working people decreases and the number of retirees increases, governments revenues go down and it becomes more and more difficult to support the elderly. As a result, there is a fear in the US that the social security funds will go bankrupt in a few years.

A scientific study to determine the effectiveness of different approaches to population stabilization would have to use empirical methods. This would require conducting scientifically developed surveys in various parts of the countries where the various family planning schemes have been implemented. In order to be accurate, the survey would need to have adequate representations of both the rural and urban populations, educated and illiterates and men and women.

It would need to include people from and religions. Since unmarried motherhood is a taboo in India, the survey could be limited to married people. The survey questions would have to be carefully worded to avoid hurting the sentiments of the more conservative people. Since many Indians have deep reservations about discussing sex and contraception, the survey could be carried out anonymously. Survey questions should take into account all the available family planning methods. Once the survey results are available, they need to be analyzed mathematically to understand the success of various population stabilization approaches adopted by the government.

Carrying capacity of a species is the maximum population size that can be sustained by the environment in the long term given that the resources are limited. It is very difficult to calculate the carrying capacity of the humans. If we take into account only the very basic human needs of food, air, water and shelter, the Earth could carry a lot more humans than it presently does. However, if we consider the all the facilities and needs of a modern human, the Earth could carry a much fewer number of humans. An optimum carrying capacity of the humans would be one in which all humans have access to all the facilities available. Since, in the current world, a large number of humans living in the developing world do not even have access to the basic needs of food and water, we can say that the current population of 6 billion is way above the optimum carrying capacity of humans.

Answering the question of the maximum and the optimum carrying capacity for humans becomes much more difficult than it is for other species because for humans scientists must also take into account things such as sanitation, medical care and quality of life. Unlike other species, humans cannot survive on just food, air, water and shelter. They need a certain amount of infrastructure. Yet while humans can survive on much less than what an average American is used to, it is difficult to calculate what is the minimum every human must have in order to have a good life.

This uncertainty about the needs of humans and the wide range of conditions in which humans can survive, makes it difficult to design an experiment to study human demography which would accurately represent all humans living all over the world.

In 1995, wolves were re-introduced into the Yellowstone Park after almost three decades of lobbying by ecologists. The reason why ecologists wanted to reintroduce wolves into the Yellowstone Park habitat was that the absence of wolves had led to instability of the ecosystem. It was argued that wolves are a keystone predator. The absence of wolves from the Yellowstone Park had led to a rise in the eke population in the Park.

With the eke population going out of control, overgrazing led to a crash of the Aspen species. This, in turn, affected other species in the ecosystem. Wolves helped the ecosystem in other ways also. After wolves had killed a prey, they left behind the carcass, which provided food to a host of other animals and insects. Thus, removing the wolves led to instability in the ecosystem and severely affected the diversity of plants and animals. The ecologists hoped to restore this stability by reintroducing wolves into the Yellowstone Park.

In the few years following the re-introduction of wolves in Yellowstone, positive changes are already visible. With ekes population being kept under check, the trees are free to grow and there are many more trees and shrubs in the Yellowstone today than there were before 1995. The lack of trees was also leading to erosion. With the trees growing back in the forest, erosion will also stop. It is hoped that overtime, this step will help restore the stability of the ecosystem.

The different variety of plants and animals found in the nature constitutes biodiversity. Biodiversity measures the health of an ecosystem as the greater the variety of plants and animals in an ecosystem, the healthier it is. Biodiversity is of three types, species diversity, genetic diversity and ecosystem diversity. A region which has a large number of endemic species can be considered a biodiversity hot-spot.

Biodiversity is extremely essential for preserving the ecological systems and functions. For example, Forests and grasslands prevent soil from erosion, loss of nutrients and landslides. This helps more variety of plants to grow. A variety of plants are able to support more animals and insects. More fauna makes the soil more fertile with their activities, which in turn supports a diverse flora. Thus biodiversity has a circular impact of preserving ecology of forests and grasslands.

Diversity of insects, bees, birds etc. helps in pollination which helps plants reproduce. Many animal species have evolved to perform the additional function of helping plants reproduce. If these animals were removed from an ecosystem, it could prove disastrous for the plants of the region.

Wetlands absorb and recycle essential nutrients while in estuaries, mollusks remove access nutrients from water to prevent over-enrichment which can lead to other problems such as eutrophication. Thus biodiversity of wetlands and estuaries help maintain the water quality and prevent problems which can hurt the ecosystem.

A flagship or umbrella species is a species that has been selected for conservation because protecting that species automatically extends protection to a number of other species. Protecting a flagship species means protecting its habitat and with the habitat, a number of other species in the habitat are also protected. Traditionally, umbrella species are relatively large bodied species of higher vertebrates. They are often chosen to represent an entire ecosystem. Even though conservation of umbrella species is very costly, it is important because these species are often spread over large areas and the effort made to protect them also protects their habitat and a number of other species which are also supported by their habitat.

Shrimp farms are labor intensive and help alleviate poverty in the regions where they are located. However, the benefits from shrimp farming, though high is not as high as 1000 times to that of intact mangrove forests. Various studies have put the benefits of shrimp farms to local workers at around 1.5 to 3 times what they would have earned otherwise. In poor countries, even this small increase is enough to improve the living standards of the population. Besides, many countries are now adopting more sustainable farming practices which have much lesser impact on the environment.

However, despite these benefits, the harm due to shrimp farming on the coastal ecosystem is too grave to be ignored. In the last couple of decades, about 35% of the mangrove forests have vanished. Mangroves offer extremely rich biodiversity. The roots of mangrove plants provide habitat for a large number of species including oysters, snails, algae, sponges, shrimps and lobsters. The roots of mangrove trees also help prevent erosion and enhance the deposition of sediment in the area. This sediment usually traps heavy metals and when mangroves are removed, these heavy metals cause contamination of sea water.

Mangroves also protect from a number of natural disasters such as hurricanes and tsunamis. Because of the huge biodiversity offered by mangroves, and the benefits they provide in protection against erosion and natural disasters, it makes a lot more sense to conserve mangroves. A clinching argument in favor of mangroves is that a natural disaster like a tsunami can be a huge drain to a countrys resources and since mangroves prevent such disasters, in the long run, a mangrove forest may be more beneficial in the long run.

Ecologists and resource scientists would best serve the public by sticking to pure science rather than trying to support political positions of democratically elected representatives. This is because politicians need huge funds in order to get elected and these funds are often provided by rich businesses whose interests are contrary to what is beneficial for the public. Rich businesses are only interested in making money, no matter what the cost. They are often not bothered by the fact their actions may be hurting the environment and the ecosystems. When these businesses fund political parties, they usually expect something in return.

These favors include support for their business activities, which may be harmful to the ecosystem. When politicians are under pressure from the rich businessman, they need scientific studies to support their decisions to the general public and may put undue pressure on scientists to come up with conclusions which may support the businesses. Such pressure can result in scientists coming up with recommendations which harm the ecosystems rather than benefit them.

The benefits which the general public can derive from a successful business are limited and short term. However, a rich and thriving ecosystem has long term benefits. So if scientists want to serve the public better, they should stick to pure science because politicians find it difficult to go against the recommendations of scientists and if science supports ecosystems than policy makers are left with no choice but to conserve these ecosystems for the benefit of mankind.

In Africa, forest loss is mainly due to conversion of forest land into . Africas population is growing at the rate of about 2.5% and between 1980 and 2006 it grew from 472 million to 943 million and is expected to reach 1.2 billion by 2020. This growing population needs food and so more and more forests are being cleared for agriculture purposes. At present, deforestation in Africa is mainly to carry out small scale permanent agriculture and it accounted for 60% of land use change.

In Latin America, deforestation is attributed mainly to large scale permanent agriculture and unsustainable harvesting of timber. About 45% of land use change in Africa can be attributed to conversion of forests to large scale permanent agriculture.

In Asia, as in the case of Latin America, deforestation is mainly attributed to large scale permanent agriculture, which accounts for about 30% change in land use. However, in Asia, unsustainable harvesting also plays a major role. Also, in Asia, the same land is often used for a number of competing interests such as farms, timber plantation and residential areas.

are transactions in which a part of outstanding debt of developing countries is forgiven in exchange for making local investments in conservation measures. The concept was first conceived by Thomas Lovejoy of the World Wildlife Fund to solve the twin problem of indebtedness of developing nations and its negative consequences on the environment. Debt-for-nature swaps may be commercial or bilateral. In , a non-governmental organization (NGO) purchases the debt title from a commercial bank and transfers it to the debtor country in exchange for the country agreeing to enact certain environmental policies. take place between two countries with one country forgiving the debt in return for some environmental commitments on the part of the debtor nation.

A biosphere reserve is a cooperative, conservative reserve created to protect the biological and cultural diversity of a region while promoting sustainable economic development. Biosphere reserves are established under the auspices of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Program on Man and the Biosphere established in 1974. In order to be designated a biosphere reserve, the ecosystem must be nominated by the national government and approved by the UNESCO. A biosphere reserve must have three elements: Core Areas, Buffer Zones and Transition or Co-operation Zones.

The core area is the securely protected site for conserving the biological diversity. The buffer zones surround the core areas and may be used for cooperative activities compatible with the ecosystem. The transition zone is the area which contains towns, farms, fisheries and other local communities. There are 368 biosphere reserves in 19 countries.

A wildlife preserve, on the other hand, is an area of land or water set aside from development or recreational use to protect wildlife and their habitats. Wildlife preserves may be established by federal, provincial or local governments as well as by private organizations and individuals to protect rare species from extinction. Wildlife preserves also serve other functions such as education, landscape protection and recreation. Wildlife preserves can be found under varied conditions in virtually all countries.

The argument in favor of as well as against cutting forest made by the conservationist and the timber companies are both trying to emphasize the economic benefits of their stands. Hence, as a judge, the only way I can decide whose argument is stronger is by seeing the actual figures which support either of the claims. The conservationist would have to come up with figures on how by protecting the ecology the forests contribute to the economy of a region and what is absolute numbers this benefit is going to be. Similarly, timber companies will have to come up with figures to show the economic benefits derived from production of timber.

Finding the exact figures for either of these is not very easy. The timber companies will not only have to factor in the direct jobs resulting from felling of trees and production of timber but also other jobs it could help create indirectly such as for carpenters, furniture stores etc. The conservationists would have to come up with figures on the loss to the economy by cutting down the forests. This is difficult, because the losses incurred by deforestation are not visible immediately but accrue over the years. I would need the services of a panel of economists to come up with these figures to help me decide which of the two options is economically more viable.

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