Extraction of natural resources from within the earth and the harvesting or surface resources has been occurring for thousands of years. In ancient civilizations, there exists ample evidence of the mining and cultivation of natural resources for the purposes of crafting tools and ornamental jewelry, constructing monuments and residences, and trading as a valuable commodity.
More People Means More Resources Used
Just a couple of hundred years ago we were not consuming a fraction of the resources we use today, and the concept of depleting the earth's available resources was a subject that was never contemplated, much less discussed or studied at length. In times past, however, we were also not using resources to provide electricity, water, and fuel, and these types of use have only continued to escalate as the planet's population grows with each passing year.
In the past 50 years, the global population has almost tripled from 2.5 billion to over 7 billion people. Two hundred years ago, the world's population was just under one billion inhabitants. It has essentially taken almost 5,000 years - the span of humankind's recorded history - for the global population to grow to one billion people, and in less than two centuries the population experienced an exponential explosion and increased sevenfold.
Modern Living Requires Resources to be Used
Practically everything we use in modern society is dependent upon fossil fuels or natural resources through the item's construction or functional operation. There are relatively few places left in the world today where people are not using machinery, gadgets, or appliances that are powered by a finite resource of some kind. While some countries, like the United States, France, and the United Kingdom have decreased their fossil fuel energy consumption over the past two decades, other countries - especially those in emerging and developing markets - have seen a steady rise in their own consumption.
Our Current Resource Consumption Cannot be Sustained
According to the United Nations, the rate at which mankind is consuming natural resources is one that cannot be sustained for much longer. There is a significant disparity between the amount of minerals, ore, metals, and other resources extracted (supply) and the amount that we deplete through consumption on a regular basis (demand). We are, as a global population, at the point where we have become almost wholly dependent upon nonrenewable resources.
The impact our global consumption of natural resources has had is not limited to the disappearance of large portions of those resources. Companies that are responsible for extraction and procurement of natural resources and fossil fuels are also feeling the weight of our dependence on natural resources. This impact is due to the fact that they are being forced to spend more time, effort, and financial investment into plunging deeper beneath the earth's surface to locate deposits of resources, minerals, and metals.
How we Can Improve Sustainability
Our dependence on resources and fuels that are finite and will eventually be wiped out could be mitigated by implementing strategies to achieve sustainability. As a planet, we generate enough daily waste to power a small country, and much of what gets discarded consists of parts made from those same minerals and metals that are being mined from the Earth. Utilizing recycling strategies would not only substantially reduce the amount of landfill waste around the globe but also provide alternative sources for components necessary to the production of consumable energy.
Eventually, and it will likely be sooner rather than later, we will have no choice but to turn to alternative energy such as renewable resources, bio-fuels, and power created through waste conversion. Adopting strategies that make use of green options and focus on sustainable alternatives will reduce our dependence on natural resources and fossil fuels, and enable us to continue providing energy and power for generations to come.
Nicole enjoys writing about anything to do with the mining industry, including everything from mining news & dependence to the best lifting equipment on the market.