With time, as the world developed and the lifestyle of humans got more complex, our need for natural resources also kept increasing. Today, we have reached a point where there are many threats to our natural resources. Here, we will talk more about what are the threats to our natural resources.
What Are Natural Resources?
Resources that have existed long before humans even evolved on this Earth are called natural resources. These are the things that Earth freely provides to us. For example – Air, Water, Land, forests, food crops, animals, sunlight and minerals.
What Are The Threats To Our Natural Resources?
According to NASA – ‘Climate change is the change in the usual weather conditions of a place.’ Our climate has kept changing since the Earth existed but what we are seeing now is man-made climate change instead of natural climate change. Earth has a natural way of maintaining its temperature, but when this is disturbed, we experience Climate change.
So, changes like severe rains leading to flooding or the kind of forest fires we see in California, US from the past few years are all due to climate change.
Climate change affects our natural resources in the following ways:
According to the latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate change( IPCC), our glaciers are melting faster than ever. This is going to increase the sea level, which will further affect the low lying areas and flood them.
Extreme events like hurricanes, forest fires will disturb crop cycles, and we might see the failure of agricultural crops. So food production will be affected.
As per the World Wildlife Organization, the diversity of animals on Earth will also get disturbed. As ice caps melt, the threat to the natural resources of polar regions will increase, and animals like Polar bears will go extinct.
The population is increasing all over the world. This created many threats to our natural resources.
As more and more people need houses to live in, more forests are cut down for wood, food and clear land. However, the land on Earth is finite, so over-exploitation of these resources is helping climate change in return, and it is becoming a toxic cycle.
The demand for resources like fish, poultry animals, fresh produce increases. New industries keep coming up, or older ones become bigger and bigger. This leads to industrialization and more deforestation.
Since the demand is more and supply is limited, agricultural practices become more intensive. They try to grow more produce in fewer resources by using fertilizers or chemicals. This creates severe pollution in our natural resources. Land and water pollution create new threats to our natural resources.
As you might have realized by now, one threat to our natural resources leads to another one. It’s all connected. So Overpopulation creates pollution. And, pollution leads to the following threats to our natural resources:
Land Pollution makes the soil low in productivity. It also makes it barren and infertile. So, we can’t grow good crops on it, and this leads to a shortage of food.
Water pollution harms our aquatic ecosystem. Fishes and other marine animals find it hard to breathe and slowly die as our water becomes acidic.
Underground water pollution also leads to a shortage of drinking water. Some big cities of the world are already on the verge of a water crisis. Imagine not having water to drink!
Air pollution leads to several toxic gases in the air, which makes it hard to breathe in. We will have to wear masks at all times if this goes on.
According to WHO, 92% of our world already lives under some level of air pollution.
Some cities of China are already so polluted that it was common for the people there to wear a mask when going outside.
Habitat Loss Of Species
Do you know, many species which existed in large numbers around 100 years ago are extinct today? It’s not at all safe for our planet when species go extinct at this speed.
Habitat loss is when the natural environment of an animal, plant or bird etc. or even marine species is disturbed.
For example, we know that one-horned rhinos live in a grassland ecosystem. So imagine, if that area gets flooded a lot, won’t they die? This is why habitat loss is a threat to our natural resources.
Many organizations are working to save different species. The IUCN maintains a ‘Red-data book’ which lists all the species under threat and on the verge of extinction. They undertake several campaigns and make governments take action for saving species under threat.
We know that, as in our family, we are all connected by blood; in an ecosystem, all animals are connected too. One needs the other to survive as they have a unique food chain. If one species gets affected, it can lead to a ripple effect and end up causing grave damage to our natural resources.
When forests are cut on a large scale to make way for human activities, it is called man-made deforestation. This type of deforestation is a threat to our natural resources. It is done for the following causes:
Construction: As the need for new land keeps increasing, forests are cleared so that new buildings can be built on them. Large areas of forests are sold to corporate houses to build their projects. Building roads and connecting different cities also require clearing out forests sometimes.
Mining: As our need for natural resources like fuel is increasing; we need new ways to generate power. The whole world runs on mineral resources which create various forms of power like electricity and gas for our vehicles etc.
Climate change affects the biodiversity of forests, and sometimes this also leads to the destruction of forests. Forests like mangroves and rainforests get most affected by global warming.
All these, in turn, lead to the following threats to our natural resources:
Soil erosion: As there would be no trees to hold the soil together, there is soil runoff from the land, and the soil quality goes down. This happens the most in hilly areas. Soil erosion is a threat because, without soil, our whole environment will turn non-existent.
Habitat loss is an effect of deforestation too. Also, we are seeing more and more human-animal conflict. Animals often stray onto human areas or on freeways and get hit by vehicles sometimes. This happens because their home is no more.
Loss Of Coral Reefs
Coral reefs are the most beautiful areas of the ocean, which provide food to 25% fish population. They are sometimes called ‘rainforests of the sea’.
Corals are living organisms like us. An increase in sea surface temperatures is deadly to them as they die when this happens.
Coral reef destruction happens mainly due to pollution of the ocean and rising temperature. As more and more industries come up, the polluted runoff into the ocean kills these corals. Apart from that, construction, fishing and tourist activities near coral reefs lead to their destruction.
Corals take decades to form but are easily dead; hence it is important to save them. Loss of coral reefs is devastating to the marine ecosystem.
Corals protect the coastline of countries. Their loss will lead to erosion of the coastline, and coastal areas will get submerged under the ocean with time.
There is a lot of economic uses to coral reefs also. The tourism and fishing industry being the main gainers. Therefore loss of corals will threaten the natural resources a lot.
The threats to natural resources are many more, but the above six are the major ones. It is important to understand that we also have a role to play in these threats. We, humans, are a collective force in aggravating the threats, and therefore, we have all the power in stopping them too. We can protect our natural resources and slow down the effect of these threats.
By making conscious choices, we can be the change that our Earth needs!