Fate of the World’s Natural Resources! – Part 1
Posted on: August 16, 2019.

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Ever since life originated on Earth, all living things, microscopic to massive, airborne to ocean-dwelling, have depended on nature for their birth, survival, and sustenance. The multiple, life-engaging resources in Nature, which nurtures and supports our existence, have made the Earth a wonderful planet to live in.

    ✔ Plants and trees provide us with a variety of vegetables and fruits.

    ✔ Our consumption of milk, meat, and eggs is supplied by cattle and livestock.

    ✔ Freshwater reserves and the oceans supply our demand for fish and other seafood.

    ✔ Our medicinal and culinary needs are satisfied by specific herbs.

    ✔ Cotton from plants and wool from sheep provides us with clothes and protection from the cold.

    ✔ Fresh oxygen, and wood for various purposes—especially parchment in ancient times and paper in modern times—are supplied by trees, which also double up as “carbon dioxide sinks” absorbing the CO2 released by humans and animals. Certain plants need the nitrogen released by trees at night.

    ✔ The heat that we need to warm our homes, and cook our food, is provided by the coal and natural gas reserves in the bowels of the earth.

    ✔ The billions of barrels of oil, petroleum, and gasoline that we need to fuel our automobiles are pumped out of the land and ocean bed.

One day, our natural resources will become scarce, or worse, completely depleted. What happens then?

What will such a thing implicate? What can we do to make the environment sustainable?

This is the subject we shall discuss in this article.

Natural resources, in their original form, undisturbed by people, occur within Nature, and unless intervened by man, they take millions of years to form. The surrounding environment helps the plentiful natural resources of the earth develop and re-grow. Our daily survival is fulfilled by some like water and air, while our other needs are taken care of by coal, natural gas, and oil.

While water, air, coal, oil, natural gas, phosphorus, other minerals, iron, soil, forests and timber, are essential natural resources that directly sustain life on Earth, few others like rocks and sediments, lakes and rivers, mountains, wetlands, coastal shores, farmlands, sand, copper, clay, manganese and stone play an indirect yet indispensable part is sustenance of life but, with prolonged human use, continue to be depleted.

The demand for natural resources will rise inevitably, given that 7.7 billion people contribute to the current global population count! Escalation in demand for natural resources over the next 31 years leading up to Year 2050 ADteetering on the brink of ‘200% Demand Vs. 0% Supply’—will be a consequence of vulnerable populations in need of development, for which more countries would come forward.

Current rates of consumption have already put severe pressure on the below six natural resources—

  • Water

    The population of people who would be living in countries or regions with water scarcity is 1.8 billion, according to predictive estimates revealed by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), one of the specialized bodies of the United Nations.

  • Oil

    Toward the end of 2010, the world’s oil reserves totalled 188.8 million tons, which will last for the next 46.2 years based on the current worldwide production rates. Information courtesy: BP Statistical Review of World Energy.

  • Natural Gas

    Global production will last for the next 58.6 years, based on estimate of reserves.

  • Phosphorus

    Quintessential for the growth of plants. Enough to sustain plants for human consumption for the next 50-100 years, with 7.7 billion people having to be fed. Information courtesy: Global Phosphorus Research Initiative.

  • Coal

    Global production will continue for another 188 years, as coal is the largest of natural resource reserves, but demand may undermine supply, if industrialization continues at alarming rates.

  • Rare Earth Elements

    Wind turbines and smartphones use two of 17 rare earth minerals—scandium and terbium—though exact reserves are yet to be known…

…continued in the next part

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