Mankind is consuming the natural resources of the planet! However, these resources must be protected for the survival of all living things. Natural resources are the resources the planet offers without the need for human intervention and are essential for the survival of living things, but they can run out if they are depleted faster than their natural replenishment, as is the case now.
What are Natural Resources?
There are two types of natural resources: renewable and non-renewable. The first is inexhaustible, like solar radiation, or, as with biomass, their regeneration is relatively rapid. Non-renewable resources are resources that exist in nature on a limited basis, such as minerals and fossil fuels (petroleum, natural gas and coal), as they require many years to be regenerated.
Humans are depleting the planet’s natural resources and living standards will begin to decline by 2030 unless urgent action is taken. With the work done by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF); It is stated that the over-consumption of natural resources is 20% more than what is consumed and reproducible every year. This deficit, which is formed and growing day by day, is enormously high. In addition, while this current account deficit percentage increases, human beings continue to be indifferent.
According to WWF’s data, if the excessive consumption of natural resources continues at this rate, by 2050 humanity will need 2.5 planets to feed itself. On the other hand, with this organization, it is estimated that the world’s fish, bird, mammal, amphibian and reptile population decreased by 58% between 1970 and 2012 due to human activities, and this rate will increase to 67% by 2022.
Consequences of Overuse of Natural Resources
Uncontrolled consumption of natural resources has important effects, these effects can be listed under the main headings as follows;
The risk of extinction of habitats necessary for flora and fauna and thus extinction of species is quite high. There are about 30 million different animal and plant species in the world, and according to the data of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), more than 31,000 species are currently in danger of extinction.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), 33% of the world’s land is moderately to highly degraded. If the erosion of fertile soils continues at the same rate, agricultural commodity prices will inevitably rise.
If forests are not taken care of, there will be less CO 2 and therefore more air pollution. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), nine out of every ten people worldwide breathe air containing high levels of pollutants, and seven million people die from air pollution each year.
Solutions for Uncontrolled Use of Natural Resources
The future presents a double challenge for people, as outlined in the United Nations Agenda for Sustainable Development 2030. Because, as well as preserving the function of natural resources, efforts should be made to protect fair living conditions for them in increasingly deteriorating natural conditions. If this situation is to be reversed, besides the work done, the following is also needed;
Natural capital must be protected
• Degraded ecosystems and services need to be recovered,
• The loss of priority habitats must be stopped,
• The global network of protected areas needs to be significantly expanded,
Production systems should be improved
• The volume of waste in objects, materials, resources and production systems used in the development of human life should be significantly reduced,
• Resources should be managed in a sustainable way,
• Renewable energy production should be encouraged,
Measures to Reduce Natural Resource Use
Each country carries out studies and regulations to reduce the use of natural resources in its own way. In addition, publications, trainings and campaigns aimed at raising awareness of the public on this issue are also continuing. The measures taken in this regard can be listed under the main headings as follows;
Laws and Policies
It is necessary to develop legislation regulating the use of natural resources and establish an assessment of environmental impact as a basic requirement for all projects. Steps taken in this direction;
• To develop programs that support sustainable development and environmental protection initiatives,
• Making commitments for renewable and non-polluting energies,
• Developing policies to promote environmental care and protection in order to protect ecosystem health,
It is important to raise the awareness of the citizens of the country as well as the laws and policies of the governments to reduce the uncontrolled use of natural resources. Steps to be taken in this regard;
• Encouraging people to use public transport and bicycles,
Reducing use, increasing recycling and reuse by encouraging a recycling culture,
• Providing trainings to raise environmental awareness in educational institutions,
• Promoting agriculture and ecological tourism,
• Studies and publications to increase environmental awareness through mass communication tools such as television, internet and billboards,
Ensuring that everyone consumes resources responsibly and consciously provides significant savings in energy use. Therefore, energy resources are depleted more slowly. While instilling this awareness of responsible consumption, the points that everyone will pay attention to can be listed briefly as follows;
• Paying attention to the responsible use of water and electricity,
• Reducing unnecessary product purchases,
• Avoiding the selection of non-biodegradable products,
• Preferring local and organic products,
• Avoiding waste by being aware that energy is used for each product consumed,
Developing the awareness of responsible consumption, which is the most important in all these steps, creates a more aware society, and this attitude also increases the impact of the studies on this subject. In order to become a more responsible citizen, it is a very effective approach to make the following thoughts and questions a habit;
• How to develop more responsible consumption awareness?
• How can lifestyle changes be made for sustainable mobility and how less carbon footprints can be left?
• How can existing energy consumption patterns be changed?
• How can healthy and sustainable consumption patterns be promoted?
• How can financial flows be redirected?
• How can the value of natural resources be increased?
• How can responsibility be taken for environmental and social costs?
• How to choose the products of companies that promote conservation, sustainable resource management and innovation in operations?
Writer: Ozlem Guvenc Agoglu