Deforestation, mining for fossil fuels and minerals, pollution or contamination of resources, slash-and-burn agriculture, soil erosion, overconsumption, and excessive or inefficient use of resources are some of the most common forms of resource depletion. Depletion of natural resources happens when resources are depleted faster than they are replenished in the ecosystem. If a resource is renewable or not, it means it can be replenished over time and does not require human involvement. Fishing and mining are some instances of natural resource depletion, a word that is usually used in conjunction with other activities such as farming, using fossil fuels, and water use. In addition, the value of a resource is determined in terms of its availability in the natural environment, which is the premise behind the concept of natural resource exhaustion. Without depletion, a scarce natural resource on Earth has a higher value than one that is abundant on Earth. As the world’s population grows, the depletion of natural resources becomes more pronounced. If current trends continue, there will be one and a half times as many people on the planet’s eco-footprint as the planet can sustainably provide for their consumption levels.
Here are six already underneath extreme pressure from current rates of consumption:
Freshwater comprises only 2.5 percent of the world’s total water volume, which is around 35 million km3. However, given that 70% of that freshwater is locked up in ice and permanent snow cover and that humans only have access to 200,000 km3 of freshwater in total, it’s not surprising that water demand may soon surpass availability. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, 1.8 billion people will live in countries or territories with absolute water scarcity by 2025.
The concern of attaining peak oil has been a constant presence in the oil sector. Global oil production was estimated at 188.8 million tonnes in June by BP’s Statistical Review of World Energy, based on proved oil reserves at the end of 2010. If present production levels are maintained, this will only provide enough oil to last 46.2 years.
Natural gas has a similar image to oil, with enough gas in proved reserves to supply the world’s needs for 58.6 years by the end of 2010.
Plants cannot grow in the absence of this element. Phosphate rock is necessary for fertilizer production and is found in only a few nations, including the United States, China, and Morocco. With a population of 7 billion, scientists from the Global Phosphorus Research Initiative predict that humanity will run out of phosphorus in 50 to 100 years unless additional reserves are discovered.
This fossil fuel has the biggest remaining reserves of any fossil fuel, but if China and other developing countries continue to grow their appetite for coal, demand may eventually exceed supply. As it stands, we have had enough coal to power the world for 188 years.
Scandium and terbium are only two of the seventeen rare earth minerals that are employed in everything from wind turbine magnets to smartphone electronic circuitry. Although the elements are not as scarce as their names suggest, China presently controls 97 percent of the world’s supply, which it may restrict at will. The precise reserves are unknown.
Reasons for Depletion of Natural Resources
Globally, the population exceeds seven billion people. Nonetheless, the global population continues to grow, which has been a significant element in speeding the depletion of natural resources. A growing population increases the demand for resources and the circumstances necessary to support them.
Additionally, it adds to environmental contamination. Additionally, research reveals that developing countries are consuming an increasing amount of resources to industrialize and support their ever-growing populations. As a result, natural resource depletion will continue as long as the global population grows.
Humans are putting a significant strain on land resources as a result of our excessive reliance on food production to meet daily nutritional requirements. For example, improper irrigation practices contribute significantly to the salinization and alkalization of the soil, which are necessary for plant growth. Additionally, poor soil management practices and the use of heavy machinery and farming equipment degrades the soil structure, rendering it unsuitable for plant growth. Certain farming techniques, such as excessive pesticide, fungicide, and herbicide use, also eliminate critical soil microorganisms that are necessary for nutrient replenishment.
According to the World Bank, the worldwide forest cover lost 1.3 million square kilometers between 1990 and 2016. On a similar note, tropical deforestation is projected to occur at a rate of 1% per year, with the highest rates occurring in Latin American locations. Due to population pressure, people are destroying forests, mostly for agricultural purposes.
Additionally, humans are destroying trees to make way for residential complexes and multiplexes. The globe loses not only trees but also countless animals and a large amount of plant biodiversity as a result of the destruction of their natural habitats. Additionally, increased logging activities result in increased soil erosion, which damages native soil minerals.
Large-scale mineral and oil exploration began during the 1760 industrial revolution, and the practice has been gradually expanding, resulting in increasing natural oil and mineral depletion. And as technology, development, and research grow in the modern era, mineral extraction has become easier, and humans are digging deeper to reach various ores. Increased exploitation of several minerals has resulted in a drop in production for certain of them.
For example, the production of minerals such as petroleum, copper, and zinc are expected to fall during the next two decades. Additionally, oil mining continues to increase as a result of the increase in the number of engines that run on petroleum, compounding its depletion. The peak oil theory substantiates this reality by arguing that there will come a moment when the world will face uncertainty regarding alternate fuels as a result of excessive petroleum harvesting.
Population growth and contemporary human activities are primary sources of pollution discharged into natural habitats. As a result, natural ecosystems lose their value with time. Sewage, radioactive materials, hazardous chemicals, and other pollutants are contaminating the soil, air, lakes, and oceans.
The depletion of the earth’s ozone layer and global warming is the result of unchecked emissions of carbon monoxide, nitrous oxide, sulfur oxide, and carbon dioxide, among other pollutants. Millions of animals and plants have been displaced as a result, and many are now in danger of extinction.
The modern world is inexorably industrializing as more countries achieve key technological achievements. However, as technological improvements continue, industries that leak poisons and chemical by-products into lakes, soils, and lands also continue to increase in size. As a result, by-products and hazardous compounds disrupt natural ecosystems and species.
Acidified lakes, dead zones, and the demise of wildlife and aquatic life are a few examples of the consequences. Demand for virgin materials for R & D, development, and production has also increased as a result of industrial and technical advances. As a result, the rate of natural resource depletion is growing as more resources are required to meet industrial needs.