How Humans Deplete World Resources
The exploitation of natural resources by humans is something that is mandatory and cannot be debated. However, when this exploitation exceeds the rate of replenishment of the resources being exploited, the result is a depletion of the world’s resources (Howard, 2015). The key resources that are critical in human life include air, water, and forests. Humans have continued to exploit and subsequently deplete these resources through varying use patterns, some of which cause more destruction than potentially perceived. While addressing the need for world resources by humans, it is essential to put into consideration how such exploitation results in depletion and how the natural resources can be used with regard to future generations. Depletion of world resources takes various forms and only through addressing each of these forms individually can one say to have addressed the subject of human depletion of world resources. If this is not done, the world resources will be depleted beyond sustainability. Despite this recognition of human behaviors as causing resource depletion, it is projected that it is only through addressing the causes of resource depletion rather than the effects and not playing blame games that humans can achieve sustainability.
Resource Depletion Forms
As humans use world resources for their benefits, various patterns present for the exploitation of resources, such as water, air, and forests. Resource depletion occurs through various patterns of resource use, whose causes result in increasing depletion. The depletion of world resources results in resource shortages, and lack of sufficient sinks for wastes resulting from the use of those resources. The key factor that has been cited as the key cause of resource depletion is population growth. The population is projected to be growing at 0.5 percent to 1 percent per year in the industrialized countries and at 2 to 3 percent in the developing countries (Magdoff, 2013). Based on this population growth rate, it is claimed that the rate is responsible for the depletion of resources, such as forests due to deforestation for settlement and industrialization purposes. This is exemplified in the assertion that the industrialized countries with low population growth rates still have sufficient natural resources to cater for their populations’ needs. Similarly, air resources have continued to deteriorate due to the release of toxic substances into the air, which also increases with increase in population.
Although the blame on population growth for depletion of resources has taken the world by storm, this blame cannot be exactly justified based on the conditions in the world today. The example of industrialized countries having sufficient resources is not a clear explanation for resource depletion. This is because the same industrialized countries have the economic potential to exploit resources in other less developed countries. As a result, they deplete the resources of other countries while saving their own resources for the future. The activities of humans in resource exploitation, whether industrialized or not can be directly linked to resource depletion. A concept that cannot be ignored in understanding the principles behind resource depletion is that of pollution.
Human population growth in itself is not a cause of concern for resource depletion. However, activities that result in population increase with increase in human population hence it may be considered an indirect cause of depletion. In terms of resource use for sustenance purposes, the population as it is cannot deplete the resources. However, industrialization has led to an increase in the pollution capacity of the world resulting in a depletion of air, water and forest resources. Exploitation of forest resources beyond sustainability for the provision of industrial raw materials has resulted in the depletion of forests. Moreover, changes in climatic conditions due to environmental pollution have caused ecological imbalances in the world today resulting in greater potential for resources depletion (Howard, 2015). It is the same industrialization that has resulted in increasing pollution of water bodies due to release of toxic minerals such as heavy metals and nitrates from agricultural chemicals into water bodies. This influences the quality of water bodies through increased toxicity, impacts on biological and chemical oxygen demands and carbon and nitrate contents of the water resources. Because of these chemical influences, the water bodies have continued to lose aqua life in form plants and animals.
Apart from the pollution impacts on water resources, the air has also suffered depletion on the same. Of particular concern in recent times has been the subject of climate change due to the depletion of the ozone layer. The release of chemicals full of Hydro-flouro carbons and nitrates into the environment degrade the air, results in formation of acid rains and impacts lands negatively hence affecting the plant life on the land. According to Pearce (2001), the impacts of pollution on various land resources are such that their impacts trickle to all resources allied to land. For instance, the use of agricultural chemical influences both water and air through imbalance in the ecological system.
Furthermore, resource depletion can be explained from the point of view point of excessive consumption of resources. This applies to water and forest resources but not air resources. Forests are considered as economic resources through the world and thus used immensely to gain economic value. Through timber products that have gained increasing use in households through the world, the human population has continued to reduce the percentage of forest cover around the world. This implies that without sustainable exploitation, the forests may one day come to an end.
Further from the depletion of the world’s resources, the human race has continued to advocate for sustainability in the exploitation of these resources. Advocacy organizations have been created through the globe that fights for causes such as environmental conservation by reforestation and sustainable use of environmental resources. National governments as well as non-governmental organizations have taken the initiative to drive citizens towards sustainability in the use of renewable resources. Mandates such as tree planting and legal protection of natural resources have been issued in various countries, resulting in increasing awareness for resources conservation. Water resources have also benefited through clean water campaigns which encourage reduced pollution of water resources. Based on the efforts of organizations to reverse the effects of resource depletion in the world today, the guilt of reduced sustainability in resource allocation can be said to be catching up with the human race. Consequently, blames placed on the growing population and human activities can also be side lined to consider the positive efforts made by humans to rectify the resource depletion problem.
The question is therefore not why or how humans are depleting natural resources, but how this subject can be tackled without putting blames on any one. Environmental management is a responsibility of all humans regardless of their position in the society, whether developed or developing, the objective should be to deal with the factors that cause resource depletion rather than addressing the effects and ignoring the causes of the problem. The focus should be on the change of behaviors from the less acceptable in environmental concerns to more acceptable habits. The sustainable use of forest resources through planting more trees than are being cut, and disposing only water of quality standards from industrial zones can help to reduce pollution across the water bodies. Air preservation can be achieved through engaging in climatically responsible behaviors especially for industrial countries.
A balance between the development of natural resources and their consumption should be achieved regardless of the causes of the problems associated with consumptions. Every form of air pollution can be handled through creation of awareness and taking responsibilities for the Ash and gaseous products that are released from industrial zones. This will in turn add value to human life and thus make it more sustainable.
Water, forests and air constitute the greatest and most economical resources held by the human race besides land. All these resources are however continuously being depleted because of human activities such as industrialization and pollution increase which cause adverse impacts through over exploitation of resources as well as release of toxic substances into the environment. While advocating for resource preservation, it is therefore necessary to consider not only the impacts of resource exploitation but also the efforts made to rectify the resource depletion effects. The human race can sustainably use the available resources through careful exploitation and awareness creation.
Howard, E. (2015, August 12). “Humans have already used up 2015’s supply of Earth Resources – Analysis”. The Guardian. Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/aug/12/humans-have-already-used-up-2015s-supply-of-earths-resources-analysis
Magdoff, F. (2013). “Global Resource Depletion – Is Population the Problem?” The Monthly Review, 64, 8.
Pearce, D.W. (2001). “The Economic Value of Forest Ecosystems”. Ecosystem Health, 7, 4, 284–296.