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Natural Resources of New Zealand

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Words: 1697 |

Pages: 4|

9 min read

Published: Nov 8, 2019

Words: 1697|Pages: 4|9 min read

Published: Nov 8, 2019

Table of contents

  1. Agriculture
  2. Forestry
  3. Effects of both complete and incomplete combustion

New Zealand has produced minerals and coal since European settlement and the current production includes oil, coal, silver and gold, iron sand and a range of rocks and minerals for domestic use that are rudimentary to New Zealand’s infrastructure and economy, (road production and construction). Carbon dioxide is doubtlessly the largest contributor of greenhouse gases as it lasts in the atmosphere for many thousands of years, continuing to warm the temperature. Coal is fossil fuel that is the most carbon-intensive, therefore for the same amount of energy, coal will release more carbon dioxide. 200 years ago, New Zealand didn’t have the technology nor the need to mass produce coal as this depended ultimately on the population and demand. Since there were an estimated 2,000 inhabitants scattered throughout New Zealand, coal and oil production was occurring but at a rate that was sustainable and manageable.

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People living in 1818 didn’t need to power their car, heat their homes, charge their phones or travel by plane, therefore their environment faced the positive consequences of little greenhouse gas emissions. The lack of coal exploitation two centuries ago was partly due to the tools available at that time as the technology that we have available to us now is modernized in such a way that we can decrease the coal production time and increase the amount of coal produced. However our consumerist nature has been normalised and we still continue to use coal which not only contributes to global warming through the amount of CO2 produced but also, coal contains sulfur and other dangerous elements, such as arsenic, mercury, and lead that escape into the air when coal is burned, causing numerous health detriments.

We can see that as the population has evolved, so has our technology and resources, we have a greater access to scientific knowledge and technologies that we can adapt to form other energy producers. However, we are still taking advantage of our ability to use coal and oil as a form of energy which is ultimately contributing to the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. Until we follow the alternative energy course of action through completely, we can expect the effects to worsen.

Agriculture

According to the United Nations, agriculture is responsible for 18% of the total release of CO2. New Zealand is well known around the world for our dairy industry and is the largest part of the tradable economy, contributing to around ⅔ of exported products. 200 years ago there wasn’t an active agriculture industry, although Maori had established themselves in New Zealand as expert horticulturalists. Their Polynesian ancestors arriving 700-800 AD had cleverly adapted tropical cultigens, such as kumara (from South America), yam and gourd, to the temperate New Zealand climate. 200 years ago there were thousands of hectares of land to cultivate gardens and early on, the Maori fed the Europeans settlers. Maori would hunt and the Europeans relied on them bring produce to feed the early city. Maori were horticulturists as their only domestic animals were dogs because when they came to New Zealand, they could only bring what they could take in canoes. They hunted and gardened, however, did not have stock, therefore, no greenhouse gas emissions from stock. However, Maori cleared large areas of forest to encourage the growth of fern root and to clear the land for gardening and this contributed to the CO2 emissions with the fires that were set to achieve this. This is a large contrast to our country today because in 1818 there were little to no cows so the concern of them contributing to climate change was non-existent however now, there are over 10.6 million cows and 6.7 million of these cows are used in the dairy industry.

Forestry

Before anyone inhabited New Zealand, 80% of the land was covered in dense forest. Today, only 24% of our country is native forest. Forests are rich habitats, full of trees and are imperative in the carbon cycle as they are carbon sinks which remove atmospheric carbon dioxide as explained earlier. Forests are essential to our continued existence as humans and the natural systems that provide for us. Forests reduce flooding and protect soil from erosion as well as cycling water between the soil and the atmosphere to make rain but also to produce oxygen for us to breathe. The contrast between today’s forests and the forests 200 years ago are very different. Our vast jungles turned into concrete jungles - abundant fossil fuels produced as a result. Initially, in 1818, Maori cleared forests to produce gardens and encourage the growth of fern root as well as to build houses for the growing Maori population. In addition, when the Europeans arrived, they cleared more land for cattle and sheep farms but also for timber. They wanted Kauri especially for houses and ship spars. Our population has grown substantially, therefore, more space needed to be created to accommodate our needs. We chopped down trees to clear expanses for human growth however by doing that, we are limiting our ability to live well now and in the future.

Complete combustion occurs when plenty of oxygen is present and carbon dioxide and water are produced as well as a lot of energy released as a result. Also, complete combustion burns with an invisible flame and improves the fuel efficiency and has a practical advantage over incomplete combustion. Fuel + oxygen = ENERGY + carbon dioxide + water

Dissimilarly to complete combustion, incomplete combustion occurs when limited oxygen is present and carbon, carbon monoxide, and water are produced. Little energy is also released and incomplete combustion burns with a dirty, yellow flame and black residue is left from the flame. Fuel + oxygen = ENERGY + carbon + carbon monoxide + water

Effects of both complete and incomplete combustion

Carbon dioxide is produced by complete combustion and is also a greenhouse gas which causes heat energy to be trapped on earth, resulting in climate change. The effect of this is a rise in temperatures which causes changing weather patterns and the melting of ice caps as well as a rise in ocean levels, resulting in islands sinking. Agriculture is also impacted including crop production which is relied on for many people both for income and nourishment. It is also an acidic gas which increases the acidity of oceans, resulting in damage to coral, especially the Great Barrier Reef.

Carbon monoxide, however, is a product of incomplete combustion and can negatively affect human health. Carbon monoxide (CO) is a toxic gas that combines with the hemoglobin in the blood, preventing oxygen from being carried around the body, resulting in death. Environmentally, CO can very easily and quickly be converted into CO2 in the atmosphere, which also contributes to climate change and the effects it brings.

Carbon (C) is also produced from incomplete combustion and can cause respiratory problems in humans as carbon particles irritate the lungs, in particular, the bronchioles and the alveoli, causing asthma and lung cancer. Also, C can cause cardiovascular problems, as the particles get into the arteries and clog them, resulting in heart disease. Considering the environment, carbon can coat buildings in black residue and can scatter and block solar radiation, reducing the efficiency of photosynthesis which is imperative in removing CO2 from the atmosphere.Carbon dioxide dissolves rainwater to produce carbonic acid, therefore, all water is naturally acidic. When fossil fuels are burnt, other acidic oxides (such as NO2 and SO2) make the rain water even more acidic. This acidic rainwater can dissolve limestone and marble and damage metal work. It is also harmful to fish and other wildlife in waterways and stunts the growth of trees and destroys forests. In addition, acid rain can also cause the acidification of oceans which can cause significant harm to marine organisms such as plankton and coral reefs which form the basis of the marine ecosystem. The increased acidity also notably impacts on shellfish as their shells consist of calcium carbonate which, at higher CO2 concentrations, can cause their shells to dissolve.

Gasoline, derived from petroleum is a mixture of flammable, volatile liquid hydrocarbons. It is used as fuel for internal-combustion engines (an engine whose fuel is burned inside the engine itself and not in an outside burner or furnace). Gasoline was first produced in by fractional distillation in tall towers where crude oil would be added at the bottom and hydrocarbons with different carbon chain lengths would boil at different boiling points and form different products all with different uses throughout the tower. Hydrocarbons with high boiling points would be at the bottom of the tower as it was hotter as more heat energy was needed to break the forces of attraction between molecules for it to change state and hydrocarbons with lower boiling points would be near the top of the tower. However, later processes were designed such as thermal cracking where large molecules were split into smaller ones under high pressures and heat. Because of its ability to mix willingly with air in a carburetor and its high energy for combustion, gasoline is the preferred automobile fuel.

Biofuel is a renewable energy source, therefore, is derived is a fuel derived completely from living matter such as animal and plant matter and are usually mixed with diesel and petrol to form biofuel blends. In addition, today’s biofuels usually come in the form of biodiesel (diesel alternative) and bioethanol (petrol alternative). Biodiesel usually produced from tallow which is a byproduct of meat processing. When pure biodiesel is combined with standard diesel, it creates a biodiesel blend. Bioethanol, however, is produced as a bioproduct of the dairy industry and when it is combined with ordinary petrol, this produces bioethanol-blended petrol.

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Biofuels that are produced sustainably have many environmental benefits for New Zealand, for example, reducing greenhouse gas emissions in our atmosphere, decreasing our reliance on imported oil and improving the quality of our air. Biofuels vary in the way in which they are produced, people, their impact on climate change and the environment as a whole. However, New Zealand has developed a framework for retailers and producers to communicate the credentials of the products manufactured.

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Cite this Essay

Natural Resources of New Zealand. (2019, September 13). GradesFixer. Retrieved April 14, 2024, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/natural-resources-of-new-zealand/
“Natural Resources of New Zealand.” GradesFixer, 13 Sept. 2019, gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/natural-resources-of-new-zealand/
Natural Resources of New Zealand. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/natural-resources-of-new-zealand/> [Accessed 14 Apr. 2024].
Natural Resources of New Zealand [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2019 Sept 13 [cited 2024 Apr 14]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/natural-resources-of-new-zealand/
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