Wednesday, January 1, 2020

We Use Natural Resources Faster than What the Earth Can Replenish

Rapid increase of human population has triggered rapid increase in the exploitation of renewable and non-renewable resources. The way we extract natural resources is faster than what nature can replenish. 


In big coastal cities, people drill wells and extract huge amount of groundwater. They use freshwater for their daily household needs. Freshwater is also pumped from coastal aquifer to supply various kinds of industries in and around the cities. Because city dwellers consume water faster than what nature can supply, the negative impact that they suffer is the intrusion of seawater. This will lead to rapid decrease in the supply of potable drinking water.
How to increase water supply
There are 4 ways that we could do to increase our supply of freshwater:
  • Reuse or recycle water
  • Increase storage
  • Conserve water
  • Find new sources
The above methods can also be applied to other natural resources. Coastal countries that are facing serious short supply of fresh drinking water tend to build giant desalination plants. Some of them include Ras Al Khair and Shoaiba Power and Desalination Plant in Saudi Arabia; Sorek, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Palmachim, Hadera seawater reverse osmosis desalination plants in Israel; Taweelah and Fujairah desalination plant in UAE. As a matter of fact, there are a lot of other countries that desalinate seawater to get pottable drinking water. These systems are usually expensive to build and energy intensive to operate.
Freshwater River in lowland region of Manokwari regency
Freshwater river in lowkand area of Manokwari regency
To prevent this phenomenon, safe level groundwater has to be maintained. This can be done through the control and management of freshwater extraction, the creation of catchment areas to absorb rainwater into the ground instead of directing it into canals that lead to the sea. The catchment areas are usually located inside the green zones where there are city parks, and urban forests. In places that have been severely affected by seawater intrusion, the construction of rainwater harvesting systems can be built. The depletion of natural resources is not only limited to ground freshwater but also to other renewable and non renewable resources.

Fossil Fuel

Since the introduction of external and internal combustion engines, our use of fossil fuel is increasing exponentially. We extract coal, oil, and natural gas. They are non renewable resources that will one day deplete. We often see on televisions and in the internet the news about territorial disputes among countries that share borders in places that have got fossil fuel deposits. A clear example of this is the Iraq's invasion and annexation of Kuwait which led to Gulf War from 1990 to 1991. The war was waged by a coalition of armed forces from 35 countries against Iraq. Territorial conflicts over oil fields such as South Sudan and Sudan; Iran and Iraq; civil war in Nigerian delta have caused the loss of a lot of human life. To reduce dependency on fossil fuel, the use of renewable energy has to be encouraged.

Rare Earth Materials

Certain components inside our smart phones, modern electronic devices, and electric vehicles, are made of rare earths such as europium dysprosium,, lanthanum, neodymium, gadolinium, yttrium, terbium, and etc. Very few countries have got large rare earth deposits. China and Australia are now the main exporter of these important materials. The recent trade war between the US and China may lead to problems related to more China's restrictions on the export of these important materials to its competitors.

Overerfishing, Destruction of Coral Reef and Marine Pollution

At sea, large fishing vessels catch enormous amount of fish and other marine animals. Fishing companies that use large trawler vessels and bottom trawling nets have caused massive damages in sea floor ecosystem. The use of explosive and poisonous materials for catching fish also bring damages to our marine environment.
Forest Products and Agricultural Produce
Depletion of resources also happen to renewable ones such as forest products and agricultural produce. The extraction of wood or timber products from tropical rainforest and its conversion into monoculture plantations have caused serious damage to our environment.
For instance, Java, the most populated island in Indonesia. Its forests are not able to supply enough timber materials for people living in the island. Other commodities such as palm oil, rubber, cocoa beans, and coffee have to be imported too. Such products are supplied by other near by islands, i.e. Kalimantan, Sumatra, Sulawesi, Maluku, and Papua. Java is still an important producer of rice, and sugar.  - written by Charles Roring
Related posts:
How to reduce dependency on fossil fuel
World Population and Over Exploitation of Natural Resources
Becak in the Era of Grab Bike and Gojek

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