A wind farm against a dramatic sky
Wind farms provide a clean and sustainable supply of electricity.

Sustainable Resources

One of the best ways to tackle climate change and to protect the environment, is to use sustainable resources. These are resources that will not run out and will not harm future generations. One example is renewable energy, such as wind farms or solar power, but there are many others.

So, now we know what sustainable resources are, what about unsustainable ones? Well, most of the energy humans create in power stations comes from unsustainable resources like coal or natural gas. They are unsustainable for two reasons: there is a finite supply (they will eventually run out). They also emit carbon dioxide when burnt which, if allowed to continue, will make life on Earth impossible before too long.

In this quiz we'll look at how we use our resources and how you can live a sustainable lifestyle. Remember - we are caretakers of the Earth, not its owners.

1.
Where does most of the Earth's energy come from?
Gravity
The Sun
Earth’s core
Earth’s magnetic field
Although Earth does give off some energy, almost 100% of our energy comes from the Sun. It heats the atmosphere, provides light, and feeds plants, which ultimately feed all the animals on Earth – including us
2.
What is sustainable development?
Development that doesn't harm anybody
Development that meets the needs of everybody on the planet
Development that meets the needs of the present without harming future generations
Development that is easily affordable
Sustainable development has been hard to achieve. In fact, some believe that post Industrial Revolution society is unsustainable. If so, we'll have to make some pretty dramatic changes to our lifestyles
3.
Coal and oil are fossil fuels. What are fossil fuels made from?
Plastic
Dinosaurs
Rocks
Dead plants and animals
Carbon is stored for millions of years inside fossil fuels. This is released when we burn them, pouring CO2 into the atmosphere
4.
Which of the following produces most of the oxygen we breathe?
Phytoplankton (tiny plants which live in the oceans)
Air refining factories
Forests
Volcanoes
Phytoplankton make up just 1% of Earth’s biomass but create between 50% and 80% of the oxygen in our atmosphere. We rely on other species - without them we cannot breathe or eat!
5.
To save the planet we need to use renewable resources. What is a renewable resource?
A resource which will never run out
A resource which doesn't produce CO2
A resource which doesn't cost much to use
A resource which provides oxygen
Renewable resources are either permanent (like solar or wind power), or able to naturally replace the parts we use (like plants or oxygen), so long as we use them sensibly!
6.
We can create electricity in many ways - some good, some bad. How much of the UK’s electricity comes from renewable sources?
68% of our electricity comes from renewable sources
48% of our electricity comes from renewable sources
28% of our electricity comes from renewable sources
8% of our electricity comes from renewable sources
Half of this comes from wind power, despite opposition from groups such as “National Opposition to Windfarms” or “Scotland Against Spin”
7.
Global Warming Potential (GWP) is a measure of how damaging greenhouse gasses are, compared to CO2. Which of these has the worst GWP rating?
Laughing gas
CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons)
Methane
Carbon dioxide
CO2 is the least damaging of the options. Gasses with a high GWP absorb more heat and remain in the atmosphere for longer. Thankfully, CO2 is nowhere near as damaging as some gasses – it’s the sheer amount of it, rather than its potency, which is heating the Earth up
8.
Cars and aeroplanes are damaging the planet. Transport accounts for what percentage of global carbon emissions?
40 to 45%
30 to 35%
20 to 25%
10 to 15%
It's a small portion of the total, but transport is polluting the air. That's because 95% of cars, lorries, trains, aeroplanes and ships burn fossil fuels. Electric motors are becoming more common, but it is taking a very long time to replace our petrol or diesel engines
9.
We can make changes in our everyday lives to combat climate change. Which method of hand-drying adds the most carbon to the atmosphere?
Paper towels
Reusable rolls of cotton towels
Electric hand dryers
They are as bad as each other
It’s usually a good thing to reuse, but washing and drying cotton towels actually uses more energy than modern electric hand dryers
10.
Which of the following is a good strategy for building a sustainable future?
Using local materials in construction
Eating locally-produced food
Using sustainable resources
All of the above
In 1992 the UN agreed to implement strategies to make the world more sustainable. This agreement is known as “Agenda 21”. However, it is non-binding so countries do not have to implement it
Author:  Graeme Haw

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