Developing Pressure Indicators for Europe
Edited by Anil Markandya and Nick Dale
Chapter 20: Resource depletion
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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