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Resource depletion Essay

In recent years, the depletion of natural resources has become a major focus of governments and organizations such as the United Nations (UN). This is evident in the UN’s Agenda 21 Section Two which outlines the necessary steps to be taken by countries to sustain their natural resources.[4] The depletion of natural resources is considered to be a sustainable development issue.

[5] The term sustainable development has many interpretations, most notably the Brundtland Commission’s ‘to ensure that it meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’,[6] however in broad terms it is balancing the needs of the planet’s people and species now and in the future.[4] In regards to natural resources, depletion is of concern for sustainable development as it has the ability to degrade current environments[7] and potential to impact the needs of future generations.[5] The conservation of natural resources is the fundamental problem. Unless we solve that problem, it will avail us little to solve all others. Theodore Roosevelt[8]

Depletion of Natural Resources is associated with social inequity. Considering most biodiversity are located in developing countries,[9] depletion of this resource could result in losses of ecosystem services for these countries.[10] Some view this depletion as a major source of social unrest and conflicts in developing nations.[11] At present, with it being the year of the forest,[12] there is particular concern for rainforest regions which hold most of the Earth’s biodiversity.[12] According to Nelson[13] deforestation and degradation affect 8.5% of the world’s forests with 30% of the Earth’s surface already cropped. If we consider that 80% of people rely on medicines obtained from plants and ¾ of the world’s prescription medicines have ingredients taken from plants,[10] loss of the world’s rainforests could result in a loss of finding more potential life saving medicines.

[14] The depletion of natural resources is caused by ‘direct drivers of change'[13] such as Mining, petroleum extraction, fishing and forestry as well as ‘indirect drivers of change’ such as demography, economy, society, politics and technology.[13] The current practice of Agriculture is another factor causing depletion of natural resources. For example the depletion of nutrients in the soil due to excessive use of nitrogen[13] and desertification[4] The depletion of natural resources is a continuing concern for society. This is seen in the cited quote given by Theodore Roosevelt, a well-known conservationist and former United States president, was opposed to unregulated natural resource extraction.


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