The over-consumption of today’s non-renewable resources has become a threat to the future generation. It might not seem to be serious problem to people who do not care about the future generations that would come after them, but the truth of the matter is that it is a serious threat to the survival of the coming generations. The negative effects of people’s over -consumption are already manifesting in our planet as the problem of global warming is worsening, and the years are going by with continuous fuel combustion.
Clearly, the threat of finite resources is not as simple as “just lacking” future resources; it is complicated by the fact that the world is now fully dependent on non-renewable resources. Unfortunately, these resources do not have the capability to reproduce themselves unlike renewable resources such as trees, air, and water. This paper aims to analyze in detail the problem of over-consuming our non-renewable resources and come up with the most compromising resolutions for this global problem.
Defining Non-Renewable Resources Due to the increase of people who are indifferent to their environment, it is not surprising that some may not even be aware of the distinction between non-renewable resources and renewable resources. Most luxurious people probably do not know how their latest car consuming-addiction holds a dangerous threat to the future environment and resource availability. “Non-renewable resources are those that are derived from depleting reserves of a primary resource” (Graham 65).
These resources are made out of natural resources which are exhausted to come up with an energy-producing resource. The most commonly known of these non-renewable resources are minerals and fossil fuels. Minerals are used to produce metals and equipment necessary for building infrastructures and machines. Minerals such as copper, gold, nickel, aluminum, and silver are several of the widely used metals and minerals to produce materials which are needed by society.
Copper is used in manufacturing motors and appliances; gold is usually used in advanced and high-tech gadgets such as computers and scientific equipment; nickel is a primary metal used to the production of stainless steels; aluminum is a necessary metal to manufacture our windows, doors, roofs, electronic conductors, and cooking utensils; and silver is necessary for medical uses, photography, and other chemical productions. Fossil fuels are known to us as coals, petroleum, and crude oils. Fossil fuels are combusted to produce these oils that we need everyday to help us with our transportations, heaters, cooking, and other daily activities.
Apparently, the products that these particular resources have helped built are the tools that we regularly put to use, which is why the greater reproduction of these materials causes lesser availability of resources. The unfortunate fact about these resources is that they are “non-renewable because they contain energy deposits that have taken millions of years to form” (Graham 65). As a matter of fact, before these resources could be “renewed,” it takes more than the span of human lives to generate another.
Furthermore, non-renewable resources “contain large quantities of stored energy, are readily obtainable and easily transportable, and are therefore extremely useful” (Graham 65). As a result, most people consume these resources quickly without considering that these fossil fuels and minerals take a million more than their lifetime to form again. “We are using fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas at a rate far exceeding that at which they are formed and are therefore depleting our stored energy reserves” (Graham 65).
Renewable resources, on the other hand, are natural resources that have the ability to reproduce because of their infinite features such as trees, the sun, and the gravitational energy caused by the moon. It is common knowledge that trees can be cut and be planted again. They can be grown in months and be ready for producing papers and woods. The sun and the moon are clearly able to reproduce energy without any limit or cost due to their ability to replenish substantially.
However, the problem lies on the fact that with the advent of technology, majority find more convenience in non-renewable resources as they are more capable of easing the labors of human beings. Consumerist Behavior and the Over-Consumption of Non-Renewable Resources The greatest adversary of conserving natural resources is consumerism. As technology progresses, people tend to prefer convenience over conservation. In an online booklet exclusively dedicated to promoting change in consumerism, Collis and associates quoted that Mahatma Gandhi who once said, “There is enough on earth for everybody’s need, but not for everyone’s greed.
” We have produced more wastes today than a decade ago. These wastes even amount to the construction of another infrastructure if conserved. Ruth Leger Sivard of the World Military & Social Expenditure claims that, “In the US, wood and paper thrown away each year is enough to heat 5 million homes for 200 years” (qtd. in Collis et al. ). Each person wasting or throwing away a paper each day could have contributed in the conservation of these resources if one is not selfish enough to consider the surroundings and future development.
One of the primary causes of this consumerist behavior of people is advertising. Consumerism is the offspring of advertising. Modern advertisements are too successful and effective in their field that they have influenced a great quantity of people to think that some “unnecessary” products are actually necessary. From a psychological perspective, it is believed that “[in] a sense, ‘consuming’ fulfills needs that will require other ways of being satisfied in a post-consumer society: the need to belong, the need for variety in life, the need to control your personal environment and your work” (Collis et al.
). The distinction from human needs and wants has become ambiguous. The basic human needs have extended from the concept of physical survival to the expensive concept of narcissism. Judith Williamson, who wrote “Decoding Advertisements,” even writes that “[shopping] gives you a sense of choice and power which is often absent from the rest of your life” (Collis et al. ). Social and emotional needs are apparently the reasons why people engage in consumerism. As modern advertising progresses, people are becoming more influenced to consume and buy products that they do not really need.
Consumerism is primarily related to the ongoing problem of running out of non-renewable resources because the products out of these resources are highly in demand today. “Materials like metals and fossil fuels have become important resources for modern life, and our access to these resources has greatly improved human living conditions albeit at a high environmental cost” (Graham 64). Products such as plastics, computer applications, electronic devices etc. are overloading with demands while manufacturers are keen to produce more supplies for commercial purposes (Graham 64).
Not surprisingly, those who can afford these luxuries are the people who reside in the developed countries such as United States of America and Europe. These countries are also the areas where there are high rates of wastes every year. It is also important to consider that self-protection also plays a major role in the over-consumption of resources. “In most industrialized countries, for instance, people spend increasingly more on mineral water since tub water is often non-drinkable in many cities” (Borghesi 1).
Ironically, pollution, a production of combusting non-renewable resources itself, is one of the main causes why people consume and spend more for resources. In the North, “many beaches have become more and more dirty […], therefore Northern agents may prefer to buy an expensive holiday in some tropical paradise rather than go to the open access, polluted beach near home” (Borghesi 1). Negative Effects of Over-Consumption of Non-Renewable Resources In the Environment Wastes are the most common problem that over-consumption is bringing the globe today.
As technology advances, people are becoming more luxurious that they tend to disregard the virtue and importance of conservation. An article published in “The Week” in October 1994 about the past human behavior towards resources shows a huge difference from how people consume too much today: In good old days, there was the cloth shopping bag. We took it to the shops hundreds of times till it was torn. We did not have plastic bags to throw away. We drank tea in china cups or steel tumblers; no paper cups to litter the place.
We did not have soft drink fountains with their disposable cups; we used bottles instead. An empty milk powder tin remained on the kitchen shelf for years to store sugar or dals. Milk was bought in glass bottles which were returned the next day; no plastic pouch to be thrown into the waste bin. We had handkerchiefs, washed and rewashed till they were torn; no paper napkins to throw away. Babies wore clean cloth diapers (usually made from grandmother’s old soft sarees), washed and rewashed: no throwaways. Those days we did not waste. (qtd in Kandula 246).
In this article, simple products such as plastic bags, disposable cups, tissues, and even diapers are given much emphasis as the primary cause of wastes in the world. Providing the distinction between how people consume products in the past decade and today enables the reader to realize how much people are wasting their resources for completely disposable and un-reusable products. “Nearly a quarter of India’s precious energy is used for producing what ultimately turns out to be waste” (“The Week” qtd. in Kandula 246). Global warming is definitely a hazardous effect of over-consuming non-renewable resources.
The continuous combustion of fossil fuels and minerals to produce energy resources contributes to the increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, thus leading to global warming as the greenhouse effect is formed. The earth is “a closed system, which has been in equilibrium for millennia with the sun as the ultimate source of energy [. . . ] There is a natural greenhouse effect which means that the planet is about 33°C warmer than it would otherwise be” (Hartog). If global warming continues, people might lose all the possible and remaining scientific solutions to resolve this.
More natural resources might even be consumed just to solve the ozone layer problem. In Human Health The fact that combustion of fossil fuels endangers the environment by the means of global warming solidifies the idea that this process of burning resources also has risks on human health. Combusting fuels eventually produce harmful chemicals such as carbon monoxide, sulfur oxides, and others to the exposed atmosphere. Upon the release into the air, “[the] combination of nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbons forms smog,” which can lead to several diseases (Greenliving).
These health problems include lung diseases, eye and nose irritation, respiratory, and heart conditions (Greenliving). These ailments are clearly hazardous in the well-being of every human being living within the coverage of the atmosphere, which literally means everyone in this world. In the Society and Countries’ Relationships Most of wars occurring today are because of the countries’ conflict with regard to natural resources. It is evident that the countries which are involved are usually the developed countries which aim to acquire more resources from undeveloped countries that have more natural resources.
Example of wars for natural resources include the war between United States and Middle East due to the “national interests in the vast oil fields”; the riots in Indonesia brought about by the “global financial crisis”; conflicts in Nile “where Egypt relies on downstream water largely controlled by Ethiopia”; in “Iraq, Syria, and Turkey where there is tension surrounding the water flow of the Euphrates and Tigris”; between Israel and Jordan when Israel refrained from supplying water sullies due to lack of resources; and between Israel and Palestine which are battling for water resources too (Shah).
Apparently, the problem of over-consumption is not only limited to the future deficiency of the resources but also to the damaged relationships of several countries. It is evident that the American people’s consumerist behavior is what triggers this perennial problem of over-consumption. Possible Solutions to Fight Over-Consumption Some renowned economists have made negative predictions about a “sudden and uncontrollable decline in both population and industrial capacity if no conditions for ecological and economic stability that is sustainable far into the future are established” (Greiner and Semmler 127).
According to a study, “the European Union (EU) could save at least 20% of its present energy consumption (EUR 60 billion per year, or the present combined energy consumption of Germany and Finland) by improving energy efficiency” (Perez-Baharona 3). In a global issue such as over-consumption, scientists are trying their best to find more natural resources that can be used as an alternative for non-renewable resources. Mostly, people are trying to find more renewable resources to counter the deficiency that non-renewable resources would cause in the future.
It is evident that “many of the resources we have come to rely on are now scarce, requiring that we do more with less” (Graham 64). This is true enough as people today are actually doing less with all the resources available. Graham also added that the sustainability of these resources is dependent on “reducing consumption; reserving scarce resources; [and] the ability of a resource to be reused and recycled” (64). The government is also taking great steps in the development of sustaining resources. An energy conservation bill has been passed which has plans on the reduction of consuming domestic fuel.
The bill aims “to reduce domestic fuel consumption by insulating homes properly, thereby cutting greenhouse gas emissions and pollution” (Enough. com). The Centre for Alternative Technology at Machynlleth, a particular center in Wales, is also maintained as an island of sustainability and is also encouraged to be a society’s role model to help them manage their own consuming habits. In addition to that, slogans by anti-consumerist organizations declare the statements to these shopaholics, “Please think before you buy, and find out the consequences of what you purchase” (Enough.
com). One of the most effective alternatives is to use renewable energy and utilize the maximum out of these resources. In Alfred Fritsch “Fifty Possible Ways to Challenge Over-Commercialism,” he encourages people to start using the best out of the solar energy distributed naturally by the sun. “This can be partly or totally done through such solar or wind applications as solar photovoltaics and electricity produced by wind turbines, through solar hot water heating, space heating, food cooking, food drying, solar greenhouses and water pumping systems” (Fritsch).
Another recommended solution is to moderate one’s diet. Fritsch explains how eating healthy foods such as vegetables, chicken, fish, eggs, dried foods and local products can minimize the use of non-renewable resources because they cost less in shipping, oil, processing, and producing. It is also advisable that people should prefer “green recreation. ” “Motorized recreations” such as traveling on plane, motorboats, or off-road vehicles require more resources and expenses. It is much preferable if a person would find leisure time in a less resource-consuming way (Fritsch).
Most common to all, reusing and recycling items is the best way to consume the best out of an available resource that we have. Fritsch illustrates that “[the] challenge is to refrain from buying unless necessary. ” Using bottles instead of disposable materials for drinking or storing ingredient are more helpful in the sustainability of our resources. In addition to that, disposable materials such as plastic cups and bottles can even have chemicals which are cancerous and harmful to our health.
Another problem that consumerism is encountering is the issue of transportation vehicles. “Throughout the last quarter century, the Federal Government has attempted to cut fuel consumption by requiring that the total population of new cars (not all individual ones) meet average fuel consumption goals” (Fritsch). However, due to the rise of vehicle sports events such as racing and car stunts, the problem of over-consuming is still widespread and uncontrollable. Evidently, these governmental and organizational solutions are common enough to the people.
Most of us are already aware of these projects and activities that these institutions require to help sustain non-renewable resources. It is important to take note that the government and other concerned citizens might have already done their part to contribute in the sustainability, but the problem, however, is on the partaking of the rest of the world. Clearly, discipline, self-control and concern are what we need from others. Few contributors might tentatively affect a major change, but a great unified force absolutely would. It is not an easy task to change a consuming habit abruptly to a lesser degree.
However, if social responsibility is practiced among the citizens, people would eventually care for the other living things not only in the present time but also in the future. Due to the high commercialism in the world, it is probably best if manufacturing company be given limits in acquiring non-renewable resources. The wealthiest manufacturing companies are usually the biggest consumer of non-renewable resources, so it would be wise enough to start filtering in that specific part. If a manufacturer has limited resources, it would be forced to produce the maximum amount of products from their finite resources.
It should become a law so companies would be forced to adhere to them strictly. Conclusion The over-consumption of non-renewable resources is not just a simple problem about losing resources, threats of health problems and global warming. It has become an eminent proof that people are losing their self-control and sense of social responsibility. Media has played a big role in brainwashing people into thinking that they have to obtain more to survive. We try to consume as much as we can use to either protect ourselves or just to conform to some effective advertising slogans.
Clearly, we are abusing our resources because they are still available. The fact that people are still able to see that there is enough resources for this present generation blind them to the truth that there is les for the future generations. The only time that people would finally have their senses open is when these resources are already affecting their way of life greatly. However, no matter which way we look or whoever we blame, the bottom line is that we are in danger of depleting our resources—and only we can save ourselves. Works Cited Borghesi, Simone and Angelo Antoci.
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