Table of Contents

Measuring Environmental Degradation

Measuring Environmental Degradation

Developing Pressure Indicators for Europe

Edited by Anil Markandya and Nick Dale

Measuring Environmental Degradation is a unique book that provides a comprehensive yet concise overview of the key issues of environmental significance addressed as part of the Eurostat ‘Environmental Pressure Indicators Project’. The book is part of the ‘Towards Environmental Pressure Indicators for the EU’ (TEPI) series that has resulted from the project.

Chapter 20: Resource depletion

Ø. Lone

Subjects: environment, environmental sociology


Ø. Lone 1. PROBLEMS OF NATURAL RESOURCE DEPLETION Considered from the perspective of depletion, exhaustion or over-exploitation, natural resources may be classified as renewable or non-renewable. It is essential, however, to develop this classification further, by introducing a third category, intermediate to natural resources that are absolutely renewable or non-renewable. This important category concerns resources which are conditionally renewable: they may be used and managed as renewable within certain limits, but may also be over-exploited. Each of these three main categories may further be divided as follows: G G G Renewable resources are either inflowing, such as solar and cosmic radiation, or cyclic, such as wind, waves, tides and the hydrologic cycle, and cycles of the ocean and atmosphere. Conditionally renewable resources are either environmental media, such as land, including soil, water and air, or biological, such as plant and animal species, and populations. Non-renewable resources are either recyclable, such as minerals, or transient, such as fossil and nuclear fuels. To a large extent, of course, this classification cuts across fundamental environmental and ecological relationships, as all the categories are closely linked. ‘Cyclic’ and ‘environmental media’ resources are here just two separate aspects (energy, materials) of the same physical resources. Soil is, similarly, an environmental medium as well as a biological resource. At a deeper level, all life is ultimately dependent on the inflowing resources of the sun, which drives the cycles, maintains the environmental media, produces the biological resources, and produced the fossil fuels through...

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