Updated: Mar 2
Resource Depletion. It’s such a big issue in our world, yet so much about it is unknown. Just imagine, resources that are crucial for mankind to survive disappear. Moreover, it takes a very long time to get them back. What will we do without them? When will this happen? How will we know before it’s too late? Learning about resource depletion is the first step to discovering what we can do to end this matter once and for all.
Resource depletion is when renewable and nonrenewable resources are used up much faster than they can recover. Renewable resources are sources that can regenerate and can be replaced. An example of a renewable resource includes biomass energy, which is an organic material that comes from various plants and animals. Non-renewable resources are resources that cannot be replenished by natural processes. Some examples include coal, oil, and natural gas. Once a non-renewable source is depleted, however, it’s gone forever.
The top 3 resources that are being depleted right now are:
Water is crucial for all living organisms, and it makes up more than ¾ of our planet. But 97% of that water is saltwater, which is too saline for growing crops, drinking, and industrial uses. Only the remaining 3% is for us, or so it seems. 2.5% of that water is locked in glaciers, ice caps, the atmosphere, and the soil. In the end, all that’s left for us is 0.5%. Water is a multipurpose resource as well, since we use it for multiple reasons. Some examples include human consumption and house use (10%), agriculture (20%), industrial uses (70%), and much more. Even though water is a renewable resource, we can’t replace freshwater since it’s so limited. With climate change and rising global temperatures, we are experiencing more droughts and heatwaves than ever before. The melting of ice caps and glaciers depletes our last resort of freshwater. Tim Radford from Climate News Network writes, “Within three decades, almost 80% of the lands that depend on groundwater will start to reach their natural irrigation limits as the wells run dry” (Radford).
Oil is one of the key factors of pollution, yet it’s a valuable resource for humans. The US started using oil in the 1950s, and it has been proven to be a very convenient source of energy. We use it mostly for road transportation (cars, trucks, motorcycles, etc.) and petrochemicals. Petrochemicals are chemical products produced by oil, but mostly petroleum. 49.87% of oil is for road transportation, and 14.96% of oil is used for petrochemicals globally. The problem is that these oil reserves that we rely on so much will soon be depleted. An author at Ecotricity writes, “Globally, we currently consume the equivalent of over 11 billion tonnes of oil from fossil fuels every year” (Ecotricity). At the rate we are using oil, research shows that we will have oil enough for only another 46.5 years. Since oil is a non-renewable resource, there is no way for us to get more after we finish it up. It will be gone forever.