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LO: How we use resources in life
In the last few modules we spoke about how renewable and non-renewable resources are used to create energy, but what else do we use these resources to make? We use fossil fuels a lot more than you’d think. We can use it in transportation, heating, electricity generation, asphalt and road oil, making the chemicals, plastics, and other synthetic materials that are in nearly everything we use.
WHAT WILL YOU LEARN?
The Earth is full of different types of minerals. Minerals are:
Ore is a natural rock or sediment that contains one or more valuable minerals, that can be mined, purified & treated. Some minerals can be found in their pure state, like gold, while others are a combination of other substances, like aluminium.
Below are various types of ore. Select each image to take a closer look.
Minerals are found in almost everything you use. Cars, light bulbs, trains, houses, guitars and fitness equipment, computers and circuit boards all use different minerals like gold, aluminium, iron and copper.
Let’s look at your phone for a second. It’s made of different plastics, chemicals, glass and, you guessed it, minerals.
If you’ve ever looked at a cereal box you may have seen, fortified with iron. Iron is an essential mineral that we need to live, in fact without iron we can’t carry oxygen around the body.
Plants absorb iron through their root systems; animals eat these plants. Humans consume these plants and animals. Iron is a micro-nutrient, meaning that the body only requires tiny amounts to function normally.
While you might not think about it, the soil is one of our most valuable resources! Good soil is more than just dirt, it’s minerals, hummus (decomposed plants and animals), sand and nutrients. Soil acts a home to thousands of insects, microorganisms and plants.
When it rains the soil holds the water for plants and various organisms. How well the soil holds the water, plays a big part in how well the plant grows in it. Early European settlers would clear forests to raise sheep and grazing cattle. This meant that there were less grass and plants to absorb the rain. Clearing land and grazing play a big part in erosion. Luckily, now, lots of farmers practise sustainable agriculture and Landcare to manage land degradation.
Soil erosion is partially caused by rain runoff washing away the soil. “Runoff” refers to the water that flows over soil’s surface. It occurs when the soil is saturated or unable to absorb more water.
One way to help combat soil erosion uses plants, which have extensive root systems that can help to “grab onto” soil and keep it clumped together. You might have seen this when you pulled a plant such as a weed or vegetable out of the ground and a clump of soil clung to its roots. Plants also help absorb some of the water in the soil. These effects make it harder for water to wash the soil away. Plants also help reduce erosion in other ways, such as breaking the wind that might blow-dry topsoil away.
Click the ‘question mark’ icon to test your knowledge with some questions.