The planet Earth could be defined as one small piece to an extremely large puzzle within our Galaxy. With out, the Galaxy would not function in the same way as it does now. Inside our planet are several different resources that are used every day. Whether this is direct use such as drilling for oil, or indirect use such as over grazing our land to feed the animals that will in turn feed humans, the point is the Earth is feeling the effects of it.
Some argue that we will never run out of resources, at least not in our lifetime; others believe that we are overusing resources and through this we are minimizing our chances of survival in the future. We either live for the here and now and use what was given to us, or we conserve in hopes of bettering the lives of the future generations. Either way, the choice is ours to make. Let us first take into consideration our “Land”, this is what most people will spend the majority of their lives living on as well as surrounded by, day to day. As we look back before the Industrial Revolution Era, we can see that the resources that are provided around us are used sparsely.
As the manufacturing of new products arise and new ideas are being formed each day, the need for resources increases dramatically. According to the Earth Observatory of NASA, the single biggest direct cause of tropical deforestation is conversion to cropland and pasture, mostly for subsistence, which is growing crops or raising livestock to meet daily needs. In addition, land is being taken over for personal, business, and recreational use (NASA).
With the need for agriculture resources rising, more and more of the available land is being occupied. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, 2.5 billion people depend on agriculture for their livelihood. As the number of people that are, using agriculture for survival is rapidly increasing, the faster we are using all available resources. With half of the world’s forests gone already, our species would stand little chance surviving through deforestation.
We would be left with filthy air, chronic drought, and especially no tree based products such as paper, barrels, benches, musical instruments, pine oil, furniture, billboards, fuel wood, charcoal, spices, egg cartons, linoleum, luggage, tires, bark, fiber, dyes,n incense, latexes, oils, resins, shellac, tanning compounds, waxes, and many more (Wiscombe, Warren). Human population is one more factor to consider. In the last 200 years, our population has increased from 1 Billion in the year 1800 to 7 Billion in the year 2012. With numbers rising as rapidly as they are, the human population will continue to over consume available natural resources (Hopkins, James).
Starting in the early 1900’s when the consumer goods industry skyrocketed many items made from fossil fuels began to be mass-produced. The production of these items has not decreased nor are they on track to decreasing production. Many common products are made from fossil fuels. An example of these would be household items, office supplies, sports equipment and supplies, beauty products, automotive parts and supplies and building material.
The U.S. Energy and Information Administration found that the United States consumed a total of 6.87 billion barrels (18.83 million barrels per day) in 2011 and 7.0 billion barrels (19.18 million barrels per day) of refined petroleum products and biofuels in 2010. According to the Cambridge Energy Research Associates (CERA) it is predicted that 3.74 trillion barrels of oil remained in the Earth in 2006, three times that estimated by peak oil proponents.
CERA predicted that global oil production would hit a decades-long “undulating plateau” around the middle of the 21st century (Lamb, Robert). The fact is that we could run out of oil eventually. When most of us think of fishing, we think of fun recreational time with friends and family, or possibly even fishing to catch a great source of nutrition for dinner that night. How often do we stop and think about the people that fish to provide the rest of the world with the supply of fish that is in demand.
With many fisheries closing down due to poor managing and depletion, anglers are turning to the deep sea to fill their “fish orders”. Large fishing vessels also known as Super Trawlers are dragging fishing nets up to a mile deep. Doing this allows them to catch as many fish as possible, but it is also destroying natural habitat such as coral reefs that have been part of the sea for thousands of years.
The effect of this is devastating to sea life. Many breeds of fish are being captured at a faster rate than they can reproduce. Some species such as orange roughy fishing became popular in New Zealand in the 1970’s. Over time, it spread to many countries around the world. In the last 20 years, there has been a decline in catch up to 75%. It is no longer common to see in grocery stores as well as restaurants. The amounts of fish that are captu red and distributed around the world are alarming opposed to the rate the fish can multiply. Along with the deep seas, there are signs of rising sea levels.
This is being contributed to the melting of Glaciers. According to National Geographic’s “The famed snows of Kilimanjaro have melted more than 80 percent since 1912. Glaciers in the Garhwal Himalaya in India are retreating so fast that researchers believe that most central and eastern Himalayan glaciers could virtually disappear by 2035. Arctic sea ice has thinned significantly over the past half century, and its extent has declined by about 10 percent in the past 30 years”. Because of the warming temperatures, the ice is melting at a rate between four and eight inches in the last century. If all of Greenland and Antarctica were to melt, the ocean would rise 200 feet.
This is possible because of the massive amount of water each glacier holds. Glaciers have been measured at 300 feet above water this is not including that 90% of the glacier is underwater. The outcome of a dramatic rise in sea level would affect millions of people in many different countries by washing away large parts of our land as well as damaging thousands of cities (Glick, Daniel). With the earth’s temperature rising and glaciers disappearing at an unprecedented rate, the valuable fresh water is simply running into the sea. Only 2.5 percent of all water on the planet is fresh, and 70 percent of this is locked up in glaciers and permanent snow.
Currently, more than 2.3 billion people in 21 countries live in areas, which are classified as ‘water stressed’ while a further 1.7 billion live in areas of scarcity. More than one billion people have little access to clean water. The International Water Management Institute assessed that 64 per cent of the world’s population will live in ‘water stressed’ areas by 2025. In addition, it is estimated that one-third of the world’s population will live in areas of ‘absolute water scarcity’.
These include Pakistan, South Africa and large parts of China and India (Wardle, Tony). Every aspect that we look at has a domino effect on all other aspects. The more people populate the Earth the more land will be needed to house them, the more houses are built the more forests and metals will be used. More fossil fuel will be mined in order to continue running and manufacturing equipment to run machinery to get the houses built.
The more agriculture will be needed to feed the population, the more land that is used to breed animals for human consumption, the more wild animals will be driven out of their habitats. Very few of the people living today have experienced what life was like 100 plus years ago. Most of us try to relate through videos, photos and songs. Unfortunately, the reality is we will only know life as it is throughout our own lives. We will never fully understand what it was like to go out and hunt for dinner, or not talk to family or friends for extended periods of time because of the lack of communication devices.
The world we have created from the resources that have been provided to us is incredible. I would assume people born before the 1900’s could not even dream of the availableness of the amenities that we have nowadays. As we are learning how to use our resources more effectively, we are also mastering the art of recycling resources so they can be used over and over again. An example of this would be agriculture. Because we have learned how to cultivate land, we are able to reuse land in order to produce large amounts of food to supply to many different locations to feed millions of people.
According to Kristen Derms, agriculture allows us to better appreciate why agriculture is regarded as a cultural breakthrough. Fundamentally, agriculture ensured the availability and predictability of food. Humanity learned the value of self-sufficiency. We are no longer at the mercy of nature’s randomness our ancestors realized that they had the knowledge and skill to control their own food supply (Dems, Kristina). Fossil fuel is what makes our world run the way that it does. Without using the amounts of fossil fuel that we do, it would be virtually impossible to stay up on all of the consumer products that are in demand. Fossil fuel is particularly easy to find. Once it is found and drilled, it has to capacity to generate huge amounts of energy to various locations.
Power plants that use Gas and Coals are very cost efficient. This in turn, makes it possible to get the most possible production out of the least amount of resources (Fossil Fuels). Mining of fossil fuels provides employment to millions of people across the earth each year. The extraction and distribution process is simple, because of this crude oils can be used and converted for practical uses. Individuals around the world depend on fossil fuels to continue their way of life (Mukherjee, Bidisha). In addition to growing the technology and structures of our day-to-day existence, one thing that all humans have to face is coming to the end of our life cycle.
Although some live much longer than others, it is all part of the circle of life. Humans surround themselves with warnings about what to do and what not to do to prolong the survival rate. One of the many things that are mentioned to promote health is to consume Omega-3 fatty acid at least three times a week. According to the Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research “Fish contain unsaturated fatty acids, which, when substituted for saturated fatty acids such as those in meat, may lower your cholesterol.
The main beneficial nutrient appears to be omega-3 fatty acids in fatty fish. Omega-3 fatty acids are unsaturated fatty acid that’s thought to reduce inflammation throughout the body. Inflammation in the body can damage your blood vessels and lead to heart disease.” Unhealthy fatty acids are found in most fresh water fish; therefore, the need for salt-water fish is much greater than fresh water fish. In 2005, the commercial fishing industry also provides jobs for approximately 2,000 people bringing in revenue of $362 million dollars (British Columbia).
In many parts of the world, the need for fresh water is increasing. Just like the Omega-3 fatty acids, we need fresh water in order to remain healthy. Approximately 2/3 of our body is made up of water. Our bodies need fresh water in order to transport nutrients and oxygen into cells, moisturize the air in the lungs, regulate body temperature, detoxify, and protect and moisturize our joints (Natural Remedies). If we deprive our bodies of the water that is needed the results would be harmful if not fatal. If we were to cut back on water that we used for irrigating our crops, the food that the crops are producing would not have the nourishment in them that we need to survive.
Fresh water is the base of our existence so would it not be wise to use what we need in order to survive? If we spend our lives conserving all our resources for the future generation, would we not be depriving ourselves of life? If life does not continue in a healthy, organized manner would it be worth living? Everything we use today is to maintain our survival. We use wood to make houses to shelter and protect us from outside elements. We use fossil fuels to get to and from work, build buildings, heat our homes etc. If our generation does not survive there would be no future generations regardless of how many resources we have reserved.
Humans have survived this long using the resources that are given to us. With the 200,000 years that humans have been on Earth, would it be safe to assume we will continue survival at the same rate we have been?
Or do we need to reevaluate how we are treating the resources our land has provided for us. Either way some will argue that we will never run out of resources, at least not in our lifetime; others will continue to believe that we are overusing resources and through this we are minimizing our chances of survival in the future. The Earth is allowing us access to all of its finest resources; it is our job to figure out the most efficient way to use them.
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“Top 11 Benefits of Drinking Water and How.” Natural Remedies.com. N.p., 2009. Web. 15 Apr. 2013.