Resource depletion is the exhaustion of raw materials within a region. Resources are commonly divided between renewable resources and non-renewable resources. (See also Mineral resource classification.) Use of either of these forms of resources beyond their rate of replacement is considered to be resource depletion.
- Over-consumption/excessive or unnecessary use of resources
- Slash and burn agricultural practices, currently occurring in many developing countries
- Technological and industrial development
- Habitat degradation leads to the loss of Biodiversity (i.e. species and ecosystems with its ecosystem services).
- Mining for oil and minerals
- Aquifer depletion
- Pollution or contamination of resources
Minerals are needed to provide food, clothing, and housing. A USGS study found a significant long-term trend over the 20th century for nonrenewable resources such as minerals to supply a greater proportion of the raw material inputs to the non-fuel, non-food sector of the economy; an example is the greater consumption of crushed stone, sand, and gravel used in construction.
Large-scale exploitation of minerals began in the Industrial Revolution around 1760 in England and has grown rapidly ever since. Today’s economy is largely based on fossil fuels, minerals and oil. The value increases because of the large demand, but the supply is decreasing. This has resulted in more efforts to drill and search other territories.
Peak oil is the period when the maximum rate of global petroleum extraction is reached, after which the rate of production enters terminal decline. It relates to a long-term decline in the available supply of petroleum. This, combined with increasing demand, will significantly increase the worldwide prices of petroleum derived products. Most significant will be the availability and price of liquid fuel for transportation.
The US Department of Energy in the Hirsch report indicates that “The problems associated with world oil production peaking will not be temporary, and past “energy crisis” experience will provide relatively little guidance.”
Deforestation is the clearing of natural forests by logging or burning of trees and plants in a forested area. As a result of deforestation, presently about one half of the forests that once covered the Earth have been destroyed. It occurs for many different reasons, and it has several negative implications on the atmosphere and the quality of the land in and surrounding the forest.
One of the main causes of deforestation is clearing forests for agricultural reasons. As the population of developing areas, especially near rainforests, increases, the need for land for farming becomes more and more important. For most people, a forest has no value when its resources aren’t being used, so the incentives to deforest these areas outweigh the incentives to preserve the forests. For this reason, the economic value of the forests is very important for developing worlds.
Because deforestation is so extensive, it has made several significant impacts on the environment, including carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, changing the water cycle, an increase in soil erosion, and a decrease in biodiversity. Deforestation is often cited as a cause of global warming. Because trees and plants remove carbon dioxide and emit oxygen into the atmosphere, the reduction of forests contribute to about 12% of anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions. One of the most pressing issues that deforestation creates is soil erosion. The removal of trees causes higher rates of erosion, increasing risks of landslides, which is a direct threat to many people living close to deforested areas. As forests get destroyed, so does the habitat for millions of animals. It is estimated that 80% of the world’s known biodiversity lives in the rainforests, and the destruction of these rainforests is accelerating extinction at an alarming rate.
The United Nations and the World Bank created programs such as Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD), which works especially with developing countries to use subsidies or other incentives to encourage citizens to use the forest in a more sustainable way. In addition to making sure that emissions from deforestation are kept to a minimum, an effort to educate people on sustainability and helping them to focus on the long-term risks is key to the success of these programs. Reforestation is also being encouraged in many countries in an attempt to repair the damage that deforestation has done.
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Wetlands are areas that are often saturated by enough surface or groundwater to sustain vegetation that is usually adapted to saturated soil conditions, such as cattails, bulrushes, red maples, wild rice, blackberries, cranberries, and peat moss. Because some varieties of wetlands are rich in minerals and nutrients and provide many of the advantages of both land and water environments they contain diverse species and possibly even form a food chain. When human activities take away resources many species are affected. An ecosystem contains many species.
Years ago people assumed wetlands were useless so it was not a large concern when they were being dug up. Many people want to use them for developing homes etc. On the other side of the argument people believe the wetlands are a vital source for other life forms and a part of the life cycle.
Wetlands provide services for:
- Food and habitat
- Improving water quality
- Commercial fishing
- Floodwater reduction
- Shoreline stabilization
Some loss of wetlands resulted from natural causes such as erosion, sedimentation (the buildup of soil by the settling of fine particles over a long period of time), subsidence (the sinking of land because of diminishing underground water supplies), and a rise in the sea level. However, 95% of the losses since the 1970s have been caused by humans, especially by the conversion of wetlands to agricultural land. More than half (56%) the losses of coastal wetlands resulted from dredging for marinas, canals, port development, and, to some extent, from natural shoreline erosion. The conversion of wetlands causes the loss of natural pollutant sinks. The dramatic decline in wetlands globally suggests not only loss of habitat but also diminished water quality.
- Holocene extinction
- Peak coal
- Peak copper
- Peak phosphorus
- Peak gas
- Peak gold
- Peak uranium
- Peak water
- Peak wheat
- Planetary boundaries
- Materials Flow and Sustainability, US Geological Survey, Fact Sheet FS-068-98, June 1998.
- DOE Hirsch Report
- “Global Deforestation". Global Change Curriculum. University of Michigan Global Change Program. January 4, 2006
- Butler, Rhett A. "Impact of Population and Poverty on Rainforests". Mongabay.com / A Place Out of Time: Tropical Rainforests and the Perils They Face. Retrieved May 13, 2009.
- Pearce, David W (December 2001). "The Economic Value of Forest Ecosystems". Ecosystem Health, Vol. 7, no. 4. pp. 284–296.
- G.R.van der Werf, D.C. Morton, R.S. DeFries, J.G.J. Olivier, P.S. Kasibhatla, R.B. Jackson, G.J. Collatz and J.T. Randerson, CO2 emissions from forest loss, Nature Geoscience, Volume 2 (November 2009) pp. 737–738
- http://www.actionbioscience.org/environment/nilsson.html Do We Have Enough Forests? By Sten Nilsson
- "Copenhagen Accord of 18 December 2009". UNFCC. 2009. Retrieved 2009-12-28.
- Diamond, Jared Collapse: How Societies Choose To Fail or Succeed; Viking Press 2004, pages 301–302
- Jonathan A Foley, Ruth DeFries, Gregory P Asner, Carol Barford, et al. 2005 "Global Consequences of Land Use" Science 309:5734 570-574