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Human Consumption and Resource Depletion

Essay by   •  November 4, 2010  •  Essay  •  1,243 Words (5 Pages)  •  1,456 Views

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In today's ever growing society, we must pay special attention to the amounts and types of resources we our currently consuming and the supply of these resources that will last us for the future. In researching this topic there are many factors to take into account such as the ever growing population, use of limited and unlimited resources, destruction of resources without full utilization of them, and the planning and discovering of new resources for our future.

It is a safe assumption to make that our society's population is not one that will be slowing down anytime soon. To date, according to the U.S. Bureau of the Census the United States population is projected to be 290,634,727 people, with a net gain of one person every 11 seconds, and though this may seem quite large it is only a mere 1/25th the world population, which currently is around 6.5 billion people. With large numbers like these and an outlook for continuous growth, it must be taken into concern that at some point, the U.S. and the world as a whole is going to reach its carrying capacity, a point at which the resources in an environment can no longer support a greater population. Though this may still be hundreds of years away, by addressing energy consumption and depletions concerns now we can prolong and prepare for that date as best as possible.

In the United States, and the world as a whole, there are three major areas in which resources can stem from; those are water, minerals, and the land. All of our resources and utilities to produce resources come from one of those three, and as our population continues to grow, those three sources are ever depleting. As stated above we are a culture who on the whole has a population that does not look like it will cease in growth anytime in the near future. Due to this, the planets limited supply of water seems to be one of the first things that would lead to destruction of our population. We already our currently experiencing global droughts that affect the production of other resources such as food, and therefore directly affect the health and stability of our population. With continued growth, it can only be expected that available water will be ever depleting.

With the focus on our continued growth, one must next look at its affects on the land in which live on. With our ever growing society comes the production of immeasurable amounts of pollutants and toxins that are depleting our resources faster and faster by the day. Our growth and development continues to deplete acres of land, and as we build and expand upon this land our cars, factories, and waste in general, directly affect the growth and production of resources that stem from that same land. Our available water sources continue to become increasingly polluted, and toxins and smog in the air make crops and forest endangered, by inhibiting their growth. The following chart shows deforesting rates to acquire land, which would run out at current yields with in the next century.

A third resource that plays a major factor on our lives is that of the minerals we take from the earth. Today more than 100 different minerals that come from the earth are required to produce the electricity, machinery, tools, and goods in daily use through out our society. Electricity alone is one of the greatest consumers of minerals, mainly coal, oil, and natural gas, that exist today. In the future, the demand for minerals is only going to continue to grow as the population continues to increase. The earth continuously forms many of these minerals on its own over a long period of time, yet at the rate at which we extract them from her core, is far greater than that at which they can be produced. Some minerals in us today are labeled as non-renewable resources, meaning no mater how long we give the earth to regenerate more resources, they will never again be produced. Although some minerals are technically renewable, with the mass quantities and continuous demand for which we us them, at some point there is going to be much less of them available for the high demand. The Annual Energy Outlook of 2002(AEO2002) predicted an overall economic growth fueled by our growing population. This economic growth directly affects the demand on energy and the mineral resources we extract to produce it and everything related to it. If this trend continues it is able to be seen how population growth will continually deplete the amount of mineral resources available to our society.

With our continued growth, outlooks for the future can be seen below. This scenario portrays

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