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.
31% of land is covered by forests since they’re useful for all organisms. They provide shelters for animals, absorb carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases in our air, and produce the oxygen that we breathe, which is crucial for organisms. But rates of deforestation have increased. Deforestation occurs by natural causes, like wildfires, floods, hurricanes, and parasites, or by human activities. Some human activities include cutting down for paper, farm and ranch uses, and building houses. An author from World Wildlife writes, “For example, in the Amazon around 17% of the forest has been lost in the last 50 years, mostly due to forest conversion for cattle ranching” (World Wildlife). An estimated 18 million acres of forests are destroyed each year, and a half of the world’s forests have already been cleared. Animals will not have homes and will either have to adapt to different and new surroundings or ultimately face endangerment. Oxygen is a bare necessity, and trees give that to us. Without them, none of us would be able to survive. Luckily, trees are a renewable resource and will grow, but it will take a lot of time and effort for our forests to grow back fully.
What can we do to help?
Now that you know what top resources are being depleted from Earth, fortunately, there are things we can do to avail. Of course, we cannot magically bring back the forests that were burned down or the amount of oil that has already been used, but we can at least help reduce the rate of usage of these resources. Reducing our carbon footprints will help conserve these precious resources.
Prevent the immense amount of water usage. We use water a lot in our daily lives. Some ways to dial down the amount of water you are using is to take shorter showers, turn off the tap while brushing your teeth, conserving and using 1 cup of water for 2-3 dishes instead, checking for leaky pipes, and harvesting rainwater for plants and gardens.
Decrease the amount of vehicle use. Most vehicles use oil to run and by doing so, also contribute to air pollution. Try to walk, cycle, or use public transportation wherever you can. You’ll help conserve some resources and you’ll also get some daily exercise!
Conserving trees. There are many ways that we can help conserve trees. We can start by recycling more. Recycling more often by throwing away the right things in the right bins and reusing and saving more items reduces the amount of waste and also conserves natural resources, such as paper. You can start buying more products that are recyclable. Reducing the amount of paper you use by using it efficiently is resourceful. Try to stop printing as much as possible and to use less paper, print on both sides of the sheet. There are also many alternative resources to use for paper, such as bamboo and sugarcane grass. Lastly, plant a tree! Try your best to volunteer in tree planting events or become a member of an organization. Donating to many tree planting organizations is very beneficial as well.
We are running out of resources every day and it will become an even bigger difficulty in the future. But if everyone contributes to helping conserve them, we will have a much bigger chance of beating this problem.