Location [Stds. 1, 3]
Place [Stds. 4, 7, 9, 10]
Human-Environment Interaction [Stds. 8, 12, 14-18]
Movement [Stds. 11, 13]
Regions [Stds. 2, 5, 6]


 Standard 16: Resources: Meaning, Use,
Distribution, and Importance

The changes that occur in the meaning, use, distribution, and importance of resources

TABLE OF CONTENTS
STANDARD 16 INTRODUCTION: RESOURCES ARE NOT, THEY BECOME

Economist Erich W. Zimmermann stated in the 1930s, "Resources are not; they become." Zimmermann was asserting that resources are not fixed things that merely exist, but that their meaning and value emerge as humans appraise their worth and develop the technical and scientific knowledge to transform them into useful commodities.

Thus, the importance of resources depends upon "cultural appraisals," and the value of their distribution and use changes. What we consider to be a "resource" today may not remain so in the future. Innovations in transportation, improved extractive technologies, as well as marketing play critical roles today in changing the nature of resource use.

Resources may be abused, and the use of resources may indeed degrade the environments in which people live. Standards of living as well as quality of life are affected by the manner in which resources are employed.

// WHAT IS A RESOURCE?

Resources include but are not limited to

  • seeds for crops
  • metals and minerals
  • fossil fuels
  • human knowledge
TRANSPORTATION: RAILROADS

The building of railroads in the middle of the 19th century helped to integrate vast areas of North America, Europe, and even Asia. Even now at the beginning of the 21st century, new railroad lines and the upgrading of old railroad lines are significant drivers of modernization.

// CASE STUDY: THE QINGHAI-TIBET RAILWAY

In mid-October 2005, the Chinese government announced the completion of a railroad "on the top of the world" that connects once remote Tibet with China's internal railroad network. Chinese authorities state that the railroad will promote the development of "impoverished Tibet," but many are concerned about the accompanying environmental and cultural changes that may result. Passenger and freight traffic on this new line began in July 2006. Talk also continues about the building of a new "iron Silk Road," a grand scheme railroad that will connect Europe and China via the independent Central Asian Republics, once part of the Soviet empire.

BBC News Online: October 15, 2006 and July 3, 2006
Radio Free Europe, August 11, 2006
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