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Natural Resource Depletion Essay

Introduction
Human wants, needs, and actions have created large impacts on the Earth’s environment. Although populations have been dependent on natural resources for thousands of years, in the past few decades our consumption of resources has rapidly increased. This has caused the depletion of many important resources like fresh water, as well as the looming possibility of scarcity of widely used non-renewable resources like oil. The planet is experiencing a lack of waste assimilating resources due to over-exploitation, which has further exacerbated climate change issues. Without sustainable resource management, the future for the world’s natural resources and a healthy planet looks grim. This paper will outline both renewable and non-renewable resource depletion, the causes of resource depletion, and the proper resource management necessary to maintain the world’s incredibly important supply of resources.

Natural Resources
Natural resources are the elements of the environment and nature that supply humans with services (Roberts, 2011, p. 7). All resources have value or utility, and can be considered ‘natural capital’ (Elkin, 2013). The services resources provide can be divided into two main groups: economic goods and attributes of nature. Economic goods are resources like oil, gas, metals, forests or minerals, which can be classified as raw materials, as well as flows of energy (Elkin, 2013). These goods are available on the market to be purchased and sold. Typically these types of resources are for human’s wants, although some can be essential for human’s survival. Attributes of nature are different in that they cannot be purchased or sold in the market, but they supply us with something priceless like clean air and water, and outdoor scenery or activities (Elkin, 2013).
There are two types of natural resources: renewable and non-renewable. Renewable resources are ones that if managed and used sustainably are able to naturally regenerate to replenish their stocks (Roberts, 2011, p. 9). For example, forests are considered a renewable resource if they are replanted properly after being cut down, creating the opportunity for regeneration (Roberts, 2011, p. 10). Typically non-renewable resources take thousands or millions of years to form, and are therefore considered finite. For example, fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas take over 300 million years to form through geologic and biologic transformations (Roberts, 2011, p. 9). There is no possible way for these resources to regenerate within one person’s lifetime, let alone one thousands of generations from now (Roberts, 2011, p. 10). There has recently become an unclear line between renewable and non-renewable resources (Roberts, 2011, p. 10). Just because a resource is renewable does not mean it will be preserved, and it can actually be depleted if used unsustainably; likewise, a non-renewable resource may never deal with scarcity because it is used so slowly or it is recycled...

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