Humans are using natural resources at an increasingly alarming rate in the modern era. The overexploitation of natural resources to suit the modern lifestyles of large masses is indeed unsustainable. Natural resources are limited, but renewable sources are not replenishing enough time. Without a doubt, we are heading towards a severe depletion of natural resources.
As humans advanced in technology and culture, there has been a heavy demand for raw materials sourced from various natural resources. There is a depletion of natural resources because they are being used quicker than replenishing themselves. Nature or planet cannot supply our demands at this rate.
What are Natural Resources Being Depleted?
Although there are many natural resources like rubber and materials used in the production of products like cars, mobiles and so on, other natural resources need more urgent attention. Some of them are mentioned as follows:
- Water is everywhere, but only 2.5% of it is usable, and the rest is seawater. Most of the freshwater is as ice or snow cover, and such a small quantity of water is used with no thought and care. It is predicted by The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United States that there will be 1.8 billion in the world by 2025, and they will have no water to drink.
- Coal is a non–renewable source, and it is mostly used as fossil fuel. Even though there will be enough coal that would meet the requirements of all humans for the next 188 years, it is also predicted that there will be an increase in the use of coal, and the coal could deplete at a faster rate. Furthermore, the adverse effects of coal mining will be seen on the entire ecosystem.
- Similarly, natural gas and oil are predicted to be depleted in the next 58.6 and 46.2 years.
Apart from these, environmental and political activists have repeatedly reported that the extraction of raw materials, food and fuel and their processing has contributed to the 90% loss of water depletion and biodiversity loss. The use of fossil fuels increases by 45% every decade, and the use of non–metallic minerals has tripled since it began in the 1970s. They also predict that the extraction of natural resources at the rate at which it is at will lead to an increase of 45% more than Greenhouse Gas emissions.
The building industry and transport add on more problems when it comes to the depletion of natural resources. For instance, cement, a widely used material for construction worldwide, is the primary source of Greenhouse Gases, along with using high energy processes to extract rawmaterials and their transportation for the materials used in construction. Sand is another example of causing considerable damage to the river or ocean beds.
Phosphorous is another resource that is used as a fertilizer in agriculture. It is mostly acquired from guano, and phosphorous rock and the use of phosphorous is slated to increase multiple times by 2030. Scientists advocate that about 50% of the coral reefs have already been lost due to the fishing activities of humans. At the rate of fishing that is done these days, it is estimated that in the next 50 years, there won’t be any seafood left for consumption in the next 30 years, the earth will run out of food itself.
What are the Major Causes for the Depletion of Natural Resources?
There is the rapid depletion of natural resources. There is no denying it, but before we can come up with a solution, we will need to understand the causes of this rapid natural resources depletion. Some of them are as mentioned below.
- The first and foremost reason for the depletion of natural resources is overpopulation. They are already seven billion people on the planet, and the number is only estimated to increase. Therefore, researchers convey this proven fact that the planet’s resources will never be enough to meet the ever increasing demands of such a large population. Another earth would probably be needed, which is not possible.
- Waste is also a factor that is either present in overconsumption or unnecessary use of natural resources.
- Biodiversity is constantly lost because corporates and governments engage in rapid deforestation and destruction of ecosystems without giving the natural order a chance to replenish what is taken.
- Mining, be it of minerals or oil, fuels day-to-day human life and is very destructive. Mining activities seldom follow the guidelines given by environmental authorities to save money and efforts, which is hazardous to the health of the miners and also cause irreversible damage to the environment.
- While technology and industrial development have made modern life more easy, effective and convenient. It seems like the planet pays the price. For instance, lithium mining for mobile technologies is at a rate that will cause permanent damage to the lands from which it is extracted.
- Naturally, such rampant exploitation of natural resources gives rise to a series of chain reactions that cause erosion, pollution and contamination of the planet.
Therefore, as is illustrated by the statistical evidence, there is rampant depletion of natural resources worldwide. If it continues at the rate that it is going now, there soon be nothing left of nature on the planet.
There are several policy changes and revisions of regulations done by different countries worldwide to counter the harmful effects of the process of extraction of natural resources. Governments have also taken many initiatives to promote renewable energy sources such as solar and wind, but these are just attempting to make an alternative. The time is rife to take strong and workable measures as effective solutions. Real change would only be possible if initiatives are made directly concerning natural resources at the brink of depletion.
We will have to face dire circumstances soon if the rate at which the said natural resources are extracted, processed and used is not reduced. Such crucial elements must be understood to ascertain sustainability of human growth without damaging the earth’s resources and its overall environment.