Degradation and unfair use of natural resources is a topic of significant concern for the world. The rising population is taking its toll on scarce resources. You have learned from childhood that clean air and pure water is vital for healthy living. However, with each passing day, we hear about polluted air and polluted water. Apart from this, forests and trees are being cut down. Excessive use of non-renewable resources and deforestation has become evil. Here, we shall study the causes and effects of overusing natural resources and the rising degradation of natural resources due to their improper use.
Let’s travel to the past. The world faced two wars that almost destroyed several nations. Many countries saw the destruction in the aftermath. Rehabilitation and reconstruction was a major task. Rapid economic growth was a way to overcome difficulties. Economic growth was possible only by rapid industrialisation. This effort resulted in the widespread degradation of natural resources. Severe environmental issues became apparent in the year 1960. As you are aware, today, we are also facing new diseases due to environmental degradation.
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The world’s population stands at nearly 7 billion. The needs of the population have seen a substantial increase. When we talk about needs, it refers to water, air, coal, fish, minerals, etc. here, it is essential to note that resources are seeing a depletion. What does depletion mean? Resources are depleted when they are being used faster than it can replenish itself. As mentioned earlier, the exhaustion began with the industrial revolution.
As the world marched towards advancements, people invented many things to make life easier. The demand for raw materials increased faster than imagined. Now, we get these resources from nature. The issue is too much is being put to use and that too carelessly. It is vital to know about the causes of such widespread depletion. Some of the reasons include:
1 - Overpopulation- with the world population almost reaching 7 billion, the demand on Earth’s resources continues to rise.
2 - Over Consumption and wastage- it means there is an excessive and unnecessary use of resources.
3- Deforestation, and the destruction of the ecosystem leading to a loss of biodiversity.
4 - Excessive mining for minerals and oil.
5 - Technological and industrial development.
6 - Widespread erosion.
7 - Pollution and contamination of resources.
As mentioned earlier, depletion of natural resources occurs when resources are consumed at a faster rate. You must know that natural resources are the resources that are available freely in nature, without any involvement of human action. Resources can be renewable or nonrenewable. Natural resource depletion has a reference to water usage, framing, fossil fuel consumption, mining, and fishing.
1 – Water on Earth is 70%, but only 2.5 % is fresh water. We have a minimal amount to use.
2 – Coal is the most in use of fossil fuel and non-renewable energy sources.
3 – Oil serves global transportation and reserves can meet the next 40 to 50 years.
4 – Natural gas, the known reserves are estimated to last 39 years at the current production rate.
5 - Fish. Fishermen report a decline in their catch. Tuna is close to extinction.
6 – Phosphorus is a mineral resource in use as fertilisers for plants.
An excellent example of a water table would be the static depth below the ground of water in a well or bore well. Yet another example of a water table would be the surface of a naturally occurring lake or sea. You may think that our planet has enough water as it had in the beginning. The water is still there, and it gets recycled naturally. It is the reason why there is no scarcity of saline water.
However, fresh water is scarce. The depletion of water means scarcity or lack of sufficient freshwater resources to meet the water demands of the population. Water scarcity affects each continent. It arises due to economic competitions, disputes between users, irreversible depletion of groundwater, and negative impacts on the environment.
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Q1. What are the Causes of the Depletion of Water?
Deforestation- it means cutting down trees. This act is to convert forest land into residential or commercial land. It creates an adverse effect on the water table. Forests transport large quantities of water into the atmosphere by transpiration. Deforestation leads to a situation of no rain, flowing away from river water, and permanent drying.
Over- pumping of groundwater- Groundwater is that water that seeps into the ground and gets collected there. This collected groundwater is obtained by drilling wells, or by pumping out water. Over-pumping of groundwater reduces levels of groundwater. Excessive pumping in coastal areas causes saltwater to move inland and contaminate groundwater.
Q2. How Can We Conserve Resources?
Ans: While the complete drying of water seems distant, it is vital to conserve water. We already see the effects of the overuse of water. We can act now and conserve natural resources as much as we can. Preserving is a broad topic, but we can start by doing a few things, such as:
1 – Make efficient use of electricity by turning things off and unplugging when not in use.
2 – Use renewable energy sources such as wind and sunlight to generate electricity.
3 – Use sustainable agricultural practices, such as crop rotation.
4 – Promote sustainable fishing rules and protect at-risk fish populations and ecosystems.