earth’s natural resources
* Measuring 73 feet high and spanning the 695 foot wide gorge, the Ripogenous Dam was built in 1920 and initially constructed to control flow in the river for the movement of pulp. In the 1950‘s, a tunnel was drilled in the rock from the dam to McKay Station where driving turbines began providing hydroelectric power. The dam and power station are currently in use.
* McKay Station, just downstream from the Ripogenous Dam along the west branch of the Penobscot River.
Man made structures are built for a great many purposes. To provide shelter, to cross a body of water, to grow food, to keep something in, or keep it out. Often times a structure begins serving one purpose, only to later be used as something different. Extracted materials from the earth are shipped, melted, chopped, refined, or mixed together to create something varied, something tangible, something to benefit our every day lives. Without the millions of processes underway at this very moment, our reality would appear very different than it does today. So how does one decide that using natural resources in one part of the world is justified, while other operations are not? That comes down to a cost benefit analysis and a look into what nature and humans can and can’t replace.
As the global population increases, our demand on earth’s natural resources now soars above unprecedented levels. However, realizing this does little to compensate for the effects, and navigating a way forward seems to be tricky and sometimes, fatal. The potential of our planet once appeared limitless. Urban growth was a symbol of wealth and the oceans and rivers seemed only to exist as places to extract nutrition and energy. As the world’s wild places grow fewer each decade, we arrive at a crossroads – the infinite demand for resources and the finite resources on the globe.
It is argued that we need to keep damming rivers for power. It is demanded that we continue to mow down forests for wood to build homes, furniture, or clear cut areas to grow feed for cattle. We even fish a marine or freshwater species to the brink of extinction and ignore the possibility that it could be lost forever. At a point along the way, some come to realize it’s just a drop in the bucket. After you’ve dammed the free flowing rivers, destroyed the forests, and poisoned the oceans in an effort to sustain energy, growth, and nutrition, we still remain hungry and in need of resources. Very few lasting solutions arrive and we are again back at the beginning, still demanding energy, growth, and nutrition.
The actions we take now, or fail to take, will determine the future of our planet.