The Natural Resources and the Human Population
Man was designated as the steward of the environment. He has the right to utilize the environment to his advantage. However, due to the increasing population, the resources of the earth are fast depleting, since, unlike man, the earth does not increase itself. The development of man and, eventually, technology triggered a faster depletion due to the increase in the demand and in the ways by which nature could be harvested.
One of the natural resource quickly depleting is the forest resource. 4 billion hectares (about 30% of total land) of forest land covers our land area. And for the past 11,000 years, this area is reduced by 40 percent mainly due to agriculture and wood usage. Currently, we are having a rate 7.3 million hectares of forest land being lost per year (Earth Policy Institute, 2006). If this loss continues, it will have an impact on everyone on the planet. On the individual level, this will entail the decrease in some of the supplies used by man like paper, wood and other products. It would be ironic that man was able to produce machineries that could easily make paper but there would be no more raw materials to use. On the community level, this could depict loss of jobs since the forest provides a number of jobs to the people around it; this will later affect the country’s economy. While on the population level, this entails that global warming would worsen since nothing would consume the CO2 released in the atmosphere. It would also lead to the decrease in forest wildlife since these creatures would have no more habitats.
Another natural resource being depleted is our land. Many forests are being converted to agricultural lands and then being converted to residential and industrial lands (US Forest Service, 2008). This is mainly due to the increase in population wherein there is the competition for space. To increase food production, more land is used for agriculture, then, to increase supply of other products, more industries are being erected on some of the agricultural land. On the individual level, this entails shortage in the supply of food since less land is used for food production. On the community level, this could lead to loss of culture since some cultures are centered on agriculture. And on the population level, this could lead to population congestion since more people would be influenced to live in cities since there would be no more lives in the rural areas.
Another important natural resource is the fossil fuels. Almost everyday activities revolve on fossil fuels and its by products since cars and industries run on these fuels and plastics is one of its by product (SynEarth Network, 2008). On the individual level, if this would be depleted, this would mean that normal day-to-day activities would be hampered since an integral part of it is missing. On the community level, this would lead to confusion in the community since basic communication would be lost. And on the population level, there would be the freezing of economies since most countries depends on it to run their major industries.
Another vital natural resource is the freshwater. Everything on earth depends on freshwater and, due to man’s neglect, most freshwater resources are contaminated making it not anymore usable (Food and Agriculture Organization, 2008). On the individual level, if this continues, potable water would be scarce therefore leading to hunger. On the community level, industries, such as agriculture, would be hampered therefore leading to joblessness. And on the population level, this would cause worldwide hunger since crops, fisheries and livestock would be scarce.
One more essential natural resource is the aquatic wildlife, both marine and freshwater. Studies have shown that there has been 20% extinction in the population of freshwater fishes for the past decades (World Resources Institute). In addition, over 75% of fisheries have already overfished. It was then predicted that by 2048, all the fisheries would be exhausted if the rate of fishing continues (World Wildlife Fund, 2008). If this happens, hunger (on the individual level) would occur since one major source of food would be lost. On the community level, this would depict the loss of jobs to fishing communities and the culture that revolved in it. And on the population level, this would mean the fall of economies dependent on fisheries and the loss of aquatic diversity since the species present will be gone.
We have a social responsibility to the environment. We have to give back to it what is due to what we have taken. The effort of the few who have spent their lives in promoting the environment should not be wasted and we should do something to help, may it be in small or huge ways.
Earth Policy Institute. (2006). World’s Forests Continue to Shrink. Retrieved May 9, 2008, from http://www.earth-policy.org/Indicators/Forest/2006.htm
Food and Agriculture Organization. (2008). Water & Poverty, An Issue of Life & Livelihoods. Retrieved May 8, 2008, from http://www.fao.org/nr/water/issues/scarcity.html
SynEarth Network. (2008). The Fossil Fuel Depletion Crisis: A Description of the Problem. Retrieved May 8, 2008, from http://solutions.synearth.net/stories/storyReader$8
US Forest Service. (2008). Land use conversion. Retrieved May 8, 2008, from http://www.fs.fed.us/global/aboutus/policy/tt/reports/4threats/conversion.pdf
World Resources Institute. Freshwater systems: Biodiversity. Retrieved May 8, 2008, from http://www.wri.org/publication/content/8157
World Wildlife Fund. (2008). Fishing: Why it matters. Retrieved May 9, 2008, from http://www.worldwildlife.org/what/globalmarkets/fishing/item4072.html