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For other uses, see Depletion (disambiguation).

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.

Resource depletion is most commonly used in reference to farming, fishing, mining, water usage, and consumption of fossil fuels.[1]



Main article: Peak minerals

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.[2]

Large-scale exploitation of minerals began in the Industrial Revolution around 1760 in England and has grown rapidly ever since. Most of the world's mineral ores are still being extracted from mines over fifty years old. Miners cope by digging deeper, accepting lower grades of ore, and using technology to extract the minerals. Virtually all basic industrial metals (copper, iron, bauxite, etc.), as well as rare earth minerals, are facing output limitations.[3]

Minerals projected to enter production decline during the next 20 years:

Minerals projected to enter production decline during the present century:

  • Aluminium (2057)[7]
  • Coal (2060)[8]
  • Iron (2068)[9]


Main articles: Oil depletion and Peak oil

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.”[10]


Main article: Deforestation

Deforestation is the clearing of natural 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.[11] 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.[12] 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.[13]

Environmental impact[edit]

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.[14] 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.[15]

Controlling deforestation[edit]

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.[16] 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.[17] 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.[18]


Main article: Wetland

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:

  1. Food and habitat
  2. Improving water quality
  3. Commercial fishing
  4. Floodwater reduction
  5. Shoreline stabilization
  6. Recreation

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.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 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
  2. ^ Materials Flow and Sustainability, US Geological Survey, Fact Sheet FS-068-98, June 1998.
  3. ^ Klare, M. T. (2012). The Race for What’s Left. Metropolitan Books. ISBN 9781250023971. 
  4. ^ Valero & Valero(2010)による『Physical geonomics: Combining the exergy and Hubbert peak analysis for predicting mineral resources depletion』から
  5. ^ Physical geonomics: Combining the exergy and Hubbert peak analysis for predicting mineral resources depletion
  6. ^ Zinc Depletion
  7. ^ Physical geonomics: Combining the exergy and Hubbert peak analysis for predicting mineral resources depletion
  8. ^ Physical geonomics: Combining the exergy and Hubbert peak analysis for predicting mineral resources depletion
  9. ^ Physical geonomics: Combining the exergy and Hubbert peak analysis for predicting mineral resources depletion
  10. ^ DOE Hirsch Report
  11. ^ “Global Deforestation". Global Change Curriculum. University of Michigan Global Change Program. January 4, 2006
  12. ^ Butler, Rhett A. "Impact of Population and Poverty on Rainforests". Mongabay.com / A Place Out of Time: Tropical Rainforests and the Perils They Face. Retrieved May 13, 2009.
  13. ^ Pearce, David W (December 2001). "The Economic Value of Forest Ecosystems". Ecosystem Health, Vol. 7, no. 4. pp. 284–296.
  14. ^ G. R. van der Werf, D. C. Morton, R. S. DeFries, J. G. J. Olivier, P. S. Kasibhatla, R. B. Jackson, G. J. Collatz and J .T. Randerson, CO2 emissions from forest loss, Nature Geoscience, Volume 2 (November 2009) pp. 737–738
  15. ^ Do We Have Enough Forests? By Sten Nilsson
  16. ^ "Copenhagen Accord of 18 December 2009". UNFCC. 2009. Retrieved 2009-12-28.
  17. ^ Diamond, Jared Collapse: How Societies Choose To Fail or Succeed; Viking Press 2004, pages 301–302
  18. ^ Jonathan A Foley, Ruth DeFries, Gregory P Asner, Carol Barford, et al. 2005 "Global Consequences of Land Use" Science 309:5734 570-574

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Resource_depletion — Please support Wikipedia.
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