The Depletion of Earth’s Natural Resources

Claire Hein, Staff Writer

As consumers on earth, humans rely on quick production of things like clothes, food, vehicle transportation, and electronics, but production of these things negatively impacts the earth by stripping its resources and placing toxins into the atmosphere. The earth is suffering, and soon life on earth will face the consequences, too. In other words, renewable and nonrenewable resources are becoming scarce as they are being consumed faster than they can recover. This is commonly associated with water usage, deforestation, mass fishing, and fossil fuel consumption. Especially with a population of seven billion and growing, the earth cannot keep up with the consumption of materials. 

Natural resources, like stated above, include oil, lumber, water, mining, and fishing. The overall value of these natural resources is based on their availability in nature, and natural resource depletion is defined by taking the rarest materials and consuming more of it than what we have to replenish in nature. Deforestation, for example, is something the world has struggled with for hundreds of years. Freshman Hudson Carvahlo says that “we only have so many resources to use.” There is only a percentage of forest available for wood supply, and we seem to have taken most of it already. Also, trees take many years to grow so producing more forest is not an instant solution. Continuing this thought, Conserve Energy Future says that “through deforestation, the planet not only loses trees but also thousands of animals and great plant biodiversity due to the destruction of their natural habitats.” While forests are being chopped down, so are habitats of animal species that may also be crucial to our environment. Junior Amelia Bowen says herself that “animal species are dying out because we take the resources for their habitats.” Due to the changes in living and destruction of their homes, these animals are either left to move into other habitats unwelcomed, or left to die out.

Fishing is another huge resource that humans take advantage of in the world. Having salmon at a restaurant seems like not a big deal, but what goes on behind the scenes is something really messed up. We are taking way more fish than we need, and leaving an unbalance of fish in the oceans. The World Counts states that “fishermen from a lot of coastal provinces report a decline in their catch. Other marine species such as the tuna is close to extinction due to overfishing. This is a resource since fish is part of our major food group.” 

Another resource that is overly consumed is oil. The world is in an oil shortage now, and it is being traded at the highest cost in history–$80 a barrel. Although oil is a necessary resource in day to day life for transportation and production, it is more costly to extract and process now, and more polluting to the atmosphere. MSU Today says that “the network lists Canada as an ecological creditor whose biocapacity exceeds its population’s ecological footprint. However, Canada is among the top 10 oil-producing countries in the world, and exports much of that oil for foreign consumption. Most of it goes to the United States, an ecological debtor that consumes more resources than it produces.” In the United States, we are known for the mass production of consumer products. Although it might provide us money, the environment is taking the heat as factories release more and more fossil fuels into the atmosphere. We are stripping the earth of its oil and completely overusing it. 

The oil, gas, and water shortages, and biodiversity loss, all contribute to global warming. Senior Ella Wolff adds that “releasing fuels into the atmosphere is a causing factor.” A growing global population is expected to demand a lot more food and water in future years. The interconnectivity between trends in climate change and resource scarcity is amplifying the impact: climate change could reduce agricultural productivity in the near future. Sophomore Calahan Marshall says that places that are probably struggling the most with resource depletion are “third world countries.” These places with land that rely off their crops to grow are struggling, due to lack of water and other factors, and they are losing more crops every single day. These developing countries are not able to keep up with their agriculture, on the grounds of economic interest. The economy might temporarily increase in wealth, but in the end when resources cannot be produced enough, it will decrease again. 

Resource depletion is a large problem that affects everything on earth including humans, animals, the environment, the economy, and society. The more that we cut down forests, take oil, burn fuels, mine minerals, and over-fish, the closer we get to destroying the earth. There is no reason to mistreat the earth the way we currently do. Obviously, the population needs to survive off of some resources, but there needs to be a better balance of how much we take compared to how much can be produced naturally. Environmental Conscience states that solutions to our economic problems might include “governmental regulations, electric cars, or reducing waste.” If the government were to give stricter rules as to how many resources we can take, it might help the earth and let it replenish. We cannot turn back time, so the only way to fix our human-made issues is to act differently. Taking into account the future generations and their quality of life might help inspire people to make a change.