What are the consequences of the overexploitation of natural resources?

#environmental sustainability #nature #renewable energy

Natural resources are those that our planet offers us without the need for human intervention. They are essential for survival, but if they are consumed at a faster rate than their natural regeneration, as is currently the case, they can be exhausted.

Human beings are depleting the planets natural resources.#RRSSHuman beings are depleting the planet's natural resources.

There are two types of natural resources: renewable and non-renewable. The former are inexhaustible, like solar radiation, or their renewal is relatively rapid, as is the case with biomass. Non-renewable resources are those that exist in nature in a limited way because their regeneration involves the passage of many years, such as minerals and fossil fuels (oil, natural gas and coal).

Human beings are depleting the planet's natural resources and standards of living will begin to decline by 2030 unless immediate action is taken. The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) warns that the current overexploitation of natural resources is generating an enormous deficit, as 20% more than can be regenerated is consumed each year and this percentage is growing steadily.

Thus, if we continue at this rate, we would need 2.5 planets to supply ourselves in 2050, according to the latest Living Planet report (2016). This publication shows that the world's population of fish, birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles declined by 58% between 1970 and 2012 due to human activities and predicts that by 2020 this percentage will soar to 67%.


This uncontrolled consumption of natural resources has significant effects:

  • Environmental: the disappearance of habitats essential for flora and fauna and, therefore, the extinction of species. There are some 30 million different animal and plant species in the world, and of these, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) says that in 2018, 26,197 species are threatened with extinction.
  • Economic: 33% of the world's soils are moderately to highly degraded, according to a United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report published in 2017. If the erosion of fertile soil continues at the same rate, agricultural commodity prices will inevitably soar.
  • For Health: if we do not take care of the forests there will be fewer CO2 Nota sinks and therefore more air pollution. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), nine out of ten people worldwide breathe air with high levels of pollutants and seven million people die each year from ambient (outdoor) and domestic air pollution.


The future, as stated in the United Nations Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development, poses a double challenge to human beings: conserving the many forms and functions of nature and creating an equitable home for people on a finite planet. If we want to reverse this situation, we need, among other things, to:

Conserve natural capital:

  • Restore degraded ecosystems and their services.
  • Halt the loss of priority habitats.
  • Significantly expand the global network of protected areas.

Improve production systems:

  • Significantly reduce the objects, materials and resources used in the development of human life and the volume of waste in production systems.
  • Manage resources in a sustainable manner.
  • Promote the production of renewable energy.

Consume more responsibly:

  • Promote lifestyles that leave a smaller environmental footprint.
  • Change current energy consumption patterns.
  • Promote healthy consumption patterns.

Reorient financial flows:

  • Place a value on nature and natural resources.
  • Take responsibility for environmental and social costs.
  • Support and reward companies that promote conservation, sustainable resource management and innovation in their activities.

Measures to curb

the overexploitation of natural resources


Develop legislation
to regulate the
exploitation of natural,
resources and establish
environmental impact
as an
essential requirement
for entire projects
Support sustainable development and
environmental protection initiatives
Commit to
and non-polluting
Promote environmental
to maintain
ecosystem health


Encourage the use
of public transport
and bicycles
Foster a culture of
reuse and recycle
Promote environmental
in schools
agriculture and
ecological tourism


Use water and electricity responsibly
Buy fewer unnecessary products
Avoid non-biodegradable products
Choose to buy local or organic products


 SEE INFOGRAPHIC: Measures to stop the overexploitation of natural resources [PDF]

As the Living Planet report concludes, "future development in renewable energy and its rapid adoption can contribute to reducing climate risks, improving human health, strengthening our economies and creating jobs to replace those in fossil fuel-based industries".

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