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Resource depletion is the consumption of a resource faster than it can be replenished. Natural resources are commonly divided between renewable resources and non-renewable resources (see also mineral resource classification). Use of either of these forms of resources beyond their rate of replacement is considered to be resource depletion.
- Aquifer depletion
- Habitat degradation leads to the loss of biodiversity (i.e. species and ecosystems with its ecosystem services)
- Mining for fossil fuels and minerals
- Overconsumption, excessive or unnecessary use of resources
- Pollution or contamination of resources
- Slash-and-burn agricultural practices, currently occurring in many developing countries
- Soil erosion
- Technological and industrial development
Minerals are needed to provide food, clothing, and housing. A USGS study found a significant long-term trend over the 20th century for non-renewable resources such as minerals to supply a greater proportion of the raw material inputs to the non-fuel, non-food sector of the economy; an example is the greater consumption of crushed stone, sand, and gravel used in construction.
Large-scale exploitation of minerals began in the Industrial Revolution around 1760 in England and has grown rapidly ever since. Technological improvements have allowed humans to dig deeper and access lower grades and different types of ore over that time. Virtually all basic industrial metals (copper, iron, bauxite, etc.), as well as rare earth minerals, face production output limitations from time to time, because supply involves large up-front investments and is therefore slow to respond to rapid increases in demand.
Minerals projected by some to enter production decline during the next 20 years:
- Gas (2023)
- Copper (2024). Data from the United States Geological Survey (USGS) suggest that it is very unlikely that copper production will peak before 2040.
- Zinc. New developments in hydrometallurgy have transformed non-sulphide zinc deposits (largely ignored until now) into large low cost reserves.
Minerals projected by some to enter production decline during the present century:
Peak oil is the period when the maximum rate of global petroleum extraction is reached, after which the rate of production enters terminal decline. It relates to a long-term decline in the available supply of petroleum. This, combined with increasing demand, will significantly increase the worldwide prices of petroleum derived products. Most significant will be the availability and price of liquid fuel for transportation.
The United States Department of Energy in the Hirsch report indicates that “The peaking of world oil production presents the U. S. and the world with an unprecedented risk management problem. As peaking is approached, liquid fuel prices and price volatility will increase dramatically, and, without timely mitigation, the economic, social, and political costs will be unprecedented. Viable mitigation options exist on both the supply and demand sides, but to have substantial impact, they must be initiated more than a decade in advance of peaking.”
Deforestation is the clearing of forests by logging or burning of trees and plants in a forested area. As a result of deforestation, presently about one half of the forests that once covered Earth have been destroyed. It occurs for many different reasons, and it has several negative implications on the atmosphere and the quality of the land in and surrounding the forest.
One of the main causes of deforestation is clearing forests for agricultural reasons. As the population of developing areas, especially near rainforests, increases, the need for land for farming becomes more and more important. For most people, a forest has no value when its resources aren’t being used, so the incentives to deforest these areas outweigh the incentives to preserve the forests. For this reason, the economic value of the forests is very important for the developing countries.
Because deforestation is so extensive, it has made several significant impacts on the environment, including carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, changing the water cycle, an increase in soil erosion, and a decrease in biodiversity. Deforestation is often cited as a cause of global warming. Because trees and plants remove carbon dioxide and emit oxygen into the atmosphere, the reduction of forests contribute to about 12% of anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions. One of the most pressing issues that deforestation creates is soil erosion. The removal of trees causes higher rates of erosion, increasing risks of landslides, which is a direct threat to many people living close to deforested areas. As forests get destroyed, so does the habitat for millions of animals. It is estimated that 80% of the world’s known biodiversity lives in the rainforests, and the destruction of these rainforests is accelerating extinction at an alarming rate.
The United Nations and the World Bank created programs such as Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD), which works especially with developing countries to use subsidies or other incentives to encourage citizens to use the forest in a more sustainable way. In addition to making sure that emissions from deforestation are kept to a minimum, an effort to educate people on sustainability and helping them to focus on the long-term risks is key to the success of these programs. The New York Declaration on Forests and its associated actions promotes reforestation, which is being encouraged in many countries in an attempt to repair the damage that deforestation has done.
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Wetlands are areas that are often saturated by enough surface or groundwater to sustain vegetation that is usually adapted to saturated soil conditions, such as cattails, bulrushes, red maples, wild rice, blackberries, cranberries, and peat moss. Because some varieties of wetlands are rich in minerals and nutrients and provide many of the advantages of both land and water environments they contain diverse species and possibly even form a food chain. When human activities take away resources many species are affected. An ecosystem contains many species.
Years ago people assumed wetlands were useless so it was not a large concern when they were being dug up. Many people want to use them for developing homes etc. On the other side of the argument, people believe that the wetlands are a vital source for other life forms and a part of the life cycle.
Wetlands provide services for:
- Food and habitat
- Improving water quality
- Commercial fishing
- Floodwater reduction
- Shoreline stabilization
Some loss of wetlands resulted from natural causes such as erosion, sedimentation (the buildup of soil by the settling of fine particles over a long period of time), subsidence (the sinking of land because of diminishing underground water supplies), and a rise in the sea level.
- Holocene extinction
- Peak coal
- Peak copper
- Peak gas
- Peak gold
- Peak minerals
- Peak phosphorus
- Peak uranium
- Peak water
- Peak wheat
- Planetary boundaries
- Depletion and Conservation of Natural Resources: The Economic Value of the World's Ecosystems — How Much is Nature Worth? The Role of Forests and Habitat
- Materials Flow and Sustainability, US Geological Survey, Fact Sheet FS-068-98, June 1998.
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- Valero & Valero(2010)による『Physical geonomics: Combining the exergy and Hubbert peak analysis for predicting mineral resources depletion』から
- Physical geonomics: Combining the exergy and Hubbert peak analysis for predicting mineral resources depletion
- Zinc Depletion
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- DOE Hirsch Report
- “Global Deforestation". Global Change Curriculum. University of Michigan Global Change Program. January 4, 2006
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- Do We Have Enough Forests? By Sten Nilsson
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