‘Introducing Natural Resources’ is the latest in the Dunedin Academic Press series of introductions to scientific subjects, in particular, the earth sciences. You will probably be aware that I have positively reviewed a large number of them for this magazine, and this new guide is no different.
The guide explains how the Earth’s natural resources were created, including the relevance of the astronomical and geological evolution of the planet during the early history of its existence. It also describes the occurrence of natural resources and the abundance (or otherwise) of the various non-renewable resources. In addition, it covers the extraction of natural resources, the extent of the reserves, and the increasingly obvious environmental problems associated with their exploitation. This leads to a discussion of renewable resources, including solar energy, and plant and animal life, and what the future may hold in store, for example, in connection with the atmosphere, oceans and biosphere.
Why is this important? Since the industrial revolution, the human race has come to rely on natural resources that are both finite and being rapidly depleted. The misuse of resources (like fossil fuels) is also causing damage to the environment. In this context, this little guide is a useful introduction to the topic and the final chapter is understandable entitled ‘Protecting the Planet’.
Like all Dunedin guides, it contains a large number of full colour photographs and useful explanatory diagrams. It also contains a full glossary, explaining the meaning of the technical terms used and highlighted in the text.
The guide is intended for those interested in the subject matter, who, for example, may have been stimulated by the ongoing media coverage of topics, such as ‘peak oil’ and the often passionate debate over global warming. The vulnerability of the Earth is clearly a topic that we should all care about and the more we know about its natural resources, and what we are doing with them, the more likely it is that our and our children’s future will be safer than it sometime looks like today.
Graham Park is Emeritus Professor of Tectonic Geology at the University of Keele. He is also a successful author of popular introductory earth science books, including ‘Introducing Geology’ in this series of Dunedin guides.
Natural Resources by Graham Park, Dunedin Academic Press Ltd, Edinburgh (2016). 116 pp., softback, ISBN: 978 1780460 48 2