Human beings need natural resources to be able to develop and live as we do today. Natural resources are those that our planet offers us without the need for any type of intervention. Keep in mind that they are essential for our subsistence. One of the great problems of the rhythm of life that humans have today is the speed that we consume these natural resources. And it is that what is known as overexploitation. That is, what natural resources are consuming at a higher speed will make it able to regenerate naturally.
In this article we are going to tell you what overexploitation is, what is its importance and how we can avoid it.
What are natural resources
We know that there are different types of natural resources and they are necessary to be able to survive. Among the types of natural resources we have renewable and non-renewable. Today, natural resources are being consumed at too rapid a rate, leading to overexploitation. Renewable resources are those that are inexhaustible in time or have a very fast renewal rate. For example, we have solar radiation that is limited or biomass whose regeneration is relatively fast.
On the other hand, we have non-renewable resources. These are those that exist in nature in a limited way since their regeneration implies the passage of too many years. This is where we have to introduce the concept of geological time. Geological time is that which takes place throughout the history of planet earth. For time to pass in the human eye we speak of a scale of approximately 100 years. However, in geological time the scale unit was one thousand years. This indicates that non-renewable natural resources such as oil, natural gas and coal (considered as fossil fuels) do not have the capacity to regenerate on a human scale.
The current problem of overexploitation of natural resources comes from the speed that humans will extract and use natural resources. The advantage that technology has given us is to be able to increase our standard of living but as a result of the degradation of natural spaces. Natural spaces is that they are the cradle of the resources that the human being needs to be able to develop. It is estimated that From the year 2030, more aggressive measures must be taken for conservation and overexploitation avoided.
What is overexploitation
The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has warned that there is a current overexploitation of natural resources that generates a huge deficit at the planetary level. The overexploitation is nothing more than the extraction of resources at a rate greater than the regeneration capacity. In other words, we extract more oil than the planet can regenerate on its own. It is currently consuming 20% more of the resources that are able to regenerate naturally. This percentage only grows as human beings develop technologically.
If we continue at the current consumption rate we would need 2.5 planets to be able to supply the demand for the year 2050. As you might expect, this is not possible. The organization intends, in turn, to show that the world population of animals such as fish, mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles decreased by 58%. It must be taken into account that biodiversity plays a fundamental role in the development of life. Although we do not have a direct relationship with animals such as crocodiles, they do not mean that they play a fundamental role in life.
The organization assures that due to human activities it is thought that the percentage of separation of biodiversity increases by up to 67%.
Consequences of overexploitation
As is to be expected, the overexploitation of natural resources has serious consequences both for humans and for nature itself. We are going to analyze what are the main damages that overexploitation generates in the different areas:
- Environmental problems: the overexploitation of resources causes the disappearance of natural habitats that are necessary for the development of flora and fauna. With these ecosystems reducing their capacity to sustain populations, it is heading towards an imminent extinction of species. There are about 30 million different animal and plant species spread throughout the world. Currently more than 31.000 of these species are in danger of extinction according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
- Economic problems: agriculture generates a great impact on the soil and its degradation. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), 33% of the planet’s soils were in a moderate or high rate of degradation. If the erosion of fertile soil continues at this rate, the prices of agricultural products will inevitably skyrocket while global production declines. All this can trigger serious situations such as malnutrition and hunger in other countries. In turn, this will trigger social and environmental problems.
- Health problems: keep in mind that forests act as sinks for carbon dioxide. Deforestation is another type of overexploitation, since wood is a natural resource. As there is less tree surface area at the planetary level, the amount of carbon dioxide that can be absorbed through the process of photosynthesis is reduced. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), nine out of ten people worldwide breathe air with high levels of pollution. There are currently more than seven million people who die each year from air pollution.
Solutions to the problem
Faced with this declining situation, we find situations that help alleviate the problem. These solutions are collected in the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The main goal for humans is to have a dual challenge consisting of conserving the many forms and functions of nature while creating an equitable home for people on a planet that is finite.
Some of the actions to eliminate these problems are as follows:
- Restore deteriorated ecosystems and their services
- To have the loss of biodiversity and degradation of priority habitats
- Expand the global network of protected areas
- Significantly reduce the consumption of resources and increase their duration
- Manage resources in a sustainable way
- Promote renewable energy production
I hope that with this information you can learn more about overexploitation and its consequences.