Heat waves, floods, hurricanes, starvation these are the ‘rewards’ Mother Earth has for years of neglect, overuse, misuse, and abuse. The earth’s natural resources support life. Trees, soil, natural gas, coal, fresh water, and oil- life wouldn’t exist without oxygen, without food, medicine, and power. However, if natural catastrophes are anything to go by, we have gone way past the red natural these resources, creating a life-sucking ecological debt.
What will be our fate if natural resources run dry?
Natural resources are Mother Nature’s endowments, formed many years without human or alien assistance. It is a planet of 7 billion people, all pegging survival on these resources. Because human overuse and abuse, there is an ongoing depletion of natural resources that might tip nature’s balance and make life on earth impossible.
Quick Facts on Depletion of Natural Resources
Though the earth is 71% water content, globally there are 780 million lacking access to fresh water according to the Center for Disease Control.
For power, close to 34 billion barrels of oil is consumed in the world every year. Is a worrying rate of consumption, and OPEC now predicts that there are only 1.5 trillion barrels of oil left in the world? That cannot last for more than 50 years.
When it comes to natural gas, there are just an estimated 50 years remaining with the natural resource. As for coal, It is predicted that existing reserves might only last for the next 188 years.
Phosphorus is a much-needed mineral for plant growth. With the everblooming population, the Global Phosphorous Research Initiative estimates that in 50 years the planet will run out of phosphorous.
Rare Earth Elements like Scandium and terbium which are used in medical technology energy production and smartphones are running out quickly. Current demand stands at 136,000 tons per year.
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The Planet Needs Immediate Attention
By August 2, 2017, we had used more natural resources than the planet could renew within the year. This phenomenon is called Overshoot Day. In 1980, it happened in November, and in 1993 it happened in September- it is a worrying curve towards January.
Overusing natural resources causes deforestation, soil degradation, and air and water pollution. In monetary terms, we have an ecological debt of $4tr to $4.5tr every year according to calculations by the UN. Under the same trend, researchers have predicted that by 2030, humanity might have to find life in another planet to survive.
Achieving Environmental Sustainability
These numbers call for everyone needs to take part in anorectal conservation. Everybody has a role to play. Choose to recycle. Choose to pool a car with friends and educate others on conservation. Businesses should cut their carbon emissions and governments need to have rewards and punishment for this to be taken seriously.
The United Nations came up with the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) that takes a wholesome approach to sustainability through poverty reduction and education among other strategies.
There is a new school of conservation called Environmental Protection which banks on new technology to help minimize the depletion of natural resources. Scientists and researchers can monitor the state of the planet through technology to advise on correctional measures.
Natural resources have supported life on earth and made it easy in so many ways. However, with the current rate of consumption, human populations might bring the planet to its knees. Through education, innovation, and awareness, we must find ways of using natural resources sustainably.