A-Z of the Future > Resource Depletion
Humans are consuming earth’s natural resources at an unsustainable rate. As the global population grows, predicted to be over 9 billion by 2050, so too will the disparity between the rate of our consumption and the finite resources available to us.
We need resources to live, but how we get and use them is for us to define. From minerals to fuels, wood to air, the way in which we consume resources may require drastic change. Water is one of Earth’s most important natural resources. Its agricultural, industrial, household, recreational, and many more, uses mean that it is essential to how we survive everyday life. And, unlike oil, there is no substitute for it.
Our current lifestyles, and the industries that sit behind them, are so ingrained in how our economies function that it will require major changes – individually and collectively – to ensure our species can prosper as our population grows. We must either consume less, or differently. This could mean anything from more local living, with vertical farming in our communities, to new economic models, incorporating for example the concept of a circular economy where one company’s waste is another’s raw material.
Or it could mean creating new technologies that are more beneficial for earth’s natural resources – and for humans to accept them in our everyday lives. Examples of this include driving electric cars (reducing our dependence on liquid fuel) and eating lab-grown meat (reducing our dependence on agriculture).
Consuming differently may also take us beyond this planet, into space colonization. New discoveries of natural resources elsewhere in our solar system, such as through asteroid mining or space-based solar power, may preserve Earth’s resources – but would further extend the destructive impact human activity causes.