Consequences of Depletion of Natural Resources

Are we using up more than what is available?

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Tons of resources extracted from Earth

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TheWorldCounts, 22 March, 2014

Are we using up more than what is available?

Our current global population is 7.2 billion and growing. (1) Earth’s total resources are only good for 2 billion people at the current demand. Let’s do the math, and it is obvious that the result is a negative.

The way we’re living, we are already using 2 to 3 times more of the Earth’s natural resources than what is sustainable. If we do not act now, we will see the consequences of depletion of natural resources – and it’s not going to be pretty. A desolate, dry Earth is not a fun place to live.

Our Natural Resources are running out

What are the top 3 natural resources being depleted and what are the consequences?

1. Water

What will we drink without water?

  • Only 2.5% of the world’s total water volume is fresh water. Of that 2.5%, 70% is frozen (2).
  • The depletion of our water resources is more serious that the current oil depletion. There are substitutes for oil but nothing can replace our drinking water.
  • 70% of the available fresh water that remains in used in agriculture, 20% in industry and only 10% is being used for human consumption.  (3)

Causes: Increased irrigation, increased use in agriculture, roads and infrastructure prevent water seepage in the soil, rising temperatures

Consequences: Drinking water shortage. Food Shortage. Famine.

2. Oil

Nothing can be moved, manufactured, transported, built, planted, mined or harvested without the liquid fuels that we get from petroleum.

  • Oil reserves are a non-renewable resource
  • Oil accounts for 40% of all energy we use (4)
  • EIA's International Energy Outlook 2013 shows that we have enough Oil to last for 25 years.
  • Efforts are underway to develop cheaper and more sustainable energy such as solar power, wind power and other forms of renewable energy that can replace oil and fossil fuel.

Causes:  Industrial boom. Increased population. Wastage.

Consequences:  Less Transportation. Smaller economies. Higher prices. Possibly help push the transition to green energy with reduced CO2 emissions and pollution!

3. Forests

Imagine a world without trees.

  • An estimated 18 million acres of forests are destroyed each year.
  • Half of the world’s forest has been cleared.
  • Deforestation contributes 12 to 17% of global greenhouse gas emissions annually. (5)
  • Trees absorb greenhouse gases and carbon dioxide.
  • They produce the oxygen we breathe.
  • Forests are the habitats of millions of species.

Causes: Urbanization, Illegal logging, Agriculture, Subsistence Farming.

Consequences: Soil erosion, Global Warming caused by the rise of greenhouse gases- Extinction of species and loss of biodiversity. Flooding and drought.

You can make a big difference

It may seem like there is nothing you can do as an individual to stop the factors that are depleting our natural resources. But you can do something. If every person contributed to the conservation of our natural resources and reducing their CO2 emissions footprint, we can make a difference.

  • Reduce carbon dioxide emissions by buying energy efficient appliances.
  • Cycle, walk or use public transportation whenever possible.
  • Save trees by going paperless or by using only recycled products.
  • Plant a tree wherever you can.
  • Participate in tree conservation projects.
  • Turn of all appliances when not in use.
  • Conserve Electricity
  • Fix leaky faucets and use recycled water for flushing your toilet.
  • Stop polluting the ocean.
  • Harvest rainwater when you can. You can use it for cleaning or watering your plants.

References

  1. Wikipedia: List of Countries by Population
  2. The Guardian: The six natural resources most drained by our 7 billion people
  3. FAO.org: Depletion of Fresh Water Resources
  4. Oil Depletion: One of the most important problems of the world
  5. Live Science: Facts, Causes & Effects

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