Humans: Exhausting Our Planet One Resource At A Time.

by nchis_1 on October 7, 2016 - 8:07pm

Overconsumption is a problem the Earth is facing especially now as populations are rising and lavish lifestyles are causing stress on our planet. Overconsumption leads to the using up of Earth’s natural resources and is also contributing to growing volumes of waste. The article ‘Agriculture & Overuse Greater Threats to Wildlife Than Climate Change’ highlights the issue that overexploitation and agriculture due to human demand, is actually a bigger threat to biodiversity than the more ‘famous’ issue of climate change. By using up natural resources, we are leaving both the environment and the population with huge consequences to deal with. Aldred states that recent research has found that nearly ¾ of the world’s threatened species are at serious risk from consequences of overconsumption, exploitation and agriculture. In comparison, just 19% of these species were threatened by climate change.

The article explains that 8,688 of threatened or near-threatened species were evaluated against 11 large-scale threats:

1.    Agricultural activity

2.    Overexploitation

3.    Invasion

4.    Disease

5.    Urban development

6.    Pollution

7.    Human disturbances

8.    Modification of ecosystems

9.    Climate change

10. Transport

11. Energy production

 

Those of human activity are the most destructive threats here. Logging, hunting, fishing and gathering affect 72% of the species studied and are happening at rates that aren’t allowing regrowth and reproduction to keep up. Higher demands mean more agricultural activity like livestock, farming, aquaculture and timber plantations which are affecting 62% of the species. Anthropogenic climate change is found to be threatening 19%, as there are increasing floods, storms, drought, extreme temperatures and sea-level rise.

I agree with this issue being pushed in the article, that overconsumption and lifestyle choices are depleting our Earth’s natural resources at a rapid rate. Our growing population is only contributing more to this issue as it’s putting constant pressure on the environment and the assets it provides us with to survive. I came across this interesting website that shows just how rapid our population is growing in real-time - http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/. It shows how it’s growing at a rate of about 1.13% per year which is disastrous on both the physical and biological environment.

To tackle these harmful outcomes, the article suggests things like increasing sustainable harvest regimes, hunting regulations, conservation agreements and more public education about the issue. The role of the state is important here, as it’s got lots of power especially with management. In regards to sustaining natural resources and the environment, the state has their own goals, including: the protection of resources, ensuring the quality of resources, creating law and policy and providing economic gain like tourism and employment all whilst trying to balance it with the wellbeing of the environment. To achieve these goals, techniques like policy and legislation are implemented to enforce their ideas. An example of this is when leaders of the state wanted a taxable income from forests, so created one that was easier to extract timber from and make more money. This however, lead to a decline in insect diversity and soil structure, so trees were vulnerable to storms, pests and climate change. Although the state was trying to manage the action of deforestation as timber demand rose, this practice was still harmful to our environment.

Overconsumption has social affects also, and leads to food scarcity, overcrowding, poverty and competition among the population itself. It’s easy to blame climate change on the degradation of the environment as there is plenty of evidence to be worried about it, but the growing populations and demanding lifestyles of humans is killing our Earth at a rate too rapid to ignore.

 

References:

Aldred, J. (2016) ‘Agriculture and overuse greater threats to wildlife than climate change – study.’
Available at:https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/aug/10/agriculture-and-overuse-greater-threats-to-wildlife-than-climate-change-study (Accessed: 4 October 2016).

Comments

You've written about a very interesting topic! You did a good job of highlighting the environmental, political and social issues that arise from overexploitation of resources. I enjoyed how captivating your title and start of your post was because it drew me in and made me want to continue reading, especially since your topic is so relevant to resource management issues and will be a worse problem in the near future.

I agree that overexploitation, increased agriculture and lavish lifestyles are driving factors of biodiversity loss and resource depletion. The presence of climate change coverage in the media can make it seem like the only way to combat resource and species losses are through the reduction of emissions and switching to greener energy. In reality, other anthropogenic forces are putting too many pressures on resource extraction. I think one of the main problems with First World countries is that the people who have the worst environmental impacts are most detached from where their resources are coming from. Many people assume that groceries will always be available at the store around the corner or that clean water will always run from their taps just because they have the money to buy those products and services. In turn, the increasing popularity of lavish lifestyles causes more wasting of resources and strains industries like agriculture. As well, when food scarcity and overcrowding become a problem, those with wealthier lifestyles aren't directly impacted, only lower socioeconomic people are affected. Overall, I think this creates a societies in wealthier places that pay little concern to environmental impacts and their wastefulness. So although there are many people in First World countries enacting change to reduce the impacts of climate change, there is not the same kind of attention given to the overconsumption of resources.

Great post! You do a good job of highlighting both causes and consequences of overconsumption. In addition, you also relate threated species with specific causes and issues, which further help us understand the main factors causing these threats. It is clear that as humans we create a great deal of environmental issues, and it’s important we understand the consequences.

It seems in today’s world that economic development and consumption overrule the protection of our national resources and environmental perspectives. Although the article suggests things that you mentioned, such as increasing sustainable harvest regimes, hunting regulations, conservation agreements and more public education, as well as the state having it’s own goals as well, do you think these goal will actually be implemented and create a difference?

Something that might assist in tackling environmental issues more seriously is to enforce more regulatory instruments. An example of how this would be effective is to impose more fines for those who don’t follow environmental goals set out by the state. By increasing the penalty for overconsumption of resources will help discourage people from participating in those practices. Another example of how this could be beneficial is in the fracking industry. It is clear the fracking industry requires a lot of water in their processes, which means they are taking from natural resources, further creating water shortages. By imposing water fees for the fracking industry could help discourage the amount of fracking done, as many companies don’t want the water expense.