Humans and Nature: Depletion of Natural Resources by Humans
Early in human history, people used energy for heating, lighting, and cooking. As humans began to farm larger areas of land, their energy demands changed. Domesticated animals were used for energy sources to pull plows. When the Industrial Revolution occurred, people's energy demands further changed to meet the needs of industry. Work that was done by people and animals were then transferred over to machines. These machines required more natural resources such as iron and coal to produce large amounts of steel for tractors, pipes, and other devices. As the population increased, the demand for more products, such as clothing, shoes, and household items required more energy to be produced. The increased use of machines eventually led to an increased need for power. The needed power could only come from natural resources.
The abundance of natural resources used to be generally assumed, but in recent years, questions are beginning to be raised, including the availability of fuel and other minerals. Decreasing supplies of natural resources and increasing world population growth has added pressure to the world's search for energy. Humans have harmed nature by overusing, wasting, and abusing its supply of natural resources.
Growth in human population and in material living standards leads to increased production. More production, given the technologies that are currently employed, result in a rapid depletion of many natural resources and to the production of numerous pollutants which are not only dangerous to the environment, but are also, employed on a scale which cannot be absorbed and diluted by the natural environment.
The demands made by the increasing population were previously assumed to be well within the capacity of the Earth. As far as concerned its ability to supply the physical and chemical requirements for continued life and to absorb waste products. However, the late 1970s brought into focus the finite characteristics of non-renewable resources and the Earth's limited carrying capacity of these resources1. Throughout most of history, the interactions between human development and the environment have been relatively simple and localized. The complexity and scale of these interactions are now increasing, especially as resources became more scarce and competition for them increases. In particular, fossil fuels are the natural resources in question. Fossil fuels, which include oil, coal, and natural gas, are primarily used for fuel purposes. These natural resources are given the name fossil fuels because of how they are produced. The reason they are called fossil fuels is because they are all made from decayed plants and animals that have been preserved in the earth's crust by pressure, bacteria and heat.
It takes millions of years for these organisms to chemically change into fossil fuels2.
Each of these...