Explain the importance of conservation of resources?

1 Answer
Apr 29, 2018

All natural resources are finite.


At some point, the metals that we are mining, the minerals we're extracting, and the various other resources we are exploiting will all deplete. We don't know exactly when, but we do know the approximate amounts of these resources that are available to us.

Conservation of resources is important because we want to make sure we can keep those resources available for as long as possible and have as much use for them as possible. It's extremely bad to throw a lithium ion car battery into a landfill because a) it releases extremely toxic materials, and b) it's very expensive to mine lithium because it's getting increasingly rare (most car batteries are recycled for this reason). If we paid no attention to conservation, we'd run out of lithium and have nothing left to make car batteries.

Environmentally, conservation is also really important. Mining, logging, and other resource extraction methods are very harmful to the environment. Mining destroys topsoil, releases toxins, and ruins ecosystems. Logging, if done wrong, causes erosion, destroys animal habitat, and can also ruin ecosystems. The more resources we can conserve by reducing usage or recycling, the less we have to ruin the earth's ecosystems.

Economically, resource conservation is a great decision. It costs about 20x more (in energy costs for refinement and mining costs) to mine bauxite for aluminum than it does to simply recycle aluminum. For those who are more concerned about money than the environment, recycling aluminum and conserving the finite bauxite in the earth is an excellent economic decision.