Measuring Environmental Degradation
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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.
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Chapter 22: Resource depletion

J.-L. Weber


J.-L. Weber 1. WHY IS RESOURCE DEPLETION A PROBLEM? The issue of resource depletion is, of course, a major concern of environment and sustainable development policies. However, this chapter is limited to environmental aspects in the context of the elaboration of a pressure index. This leads us to consider a restricted interpretation of resources. To what extent is the depletion of resources such as fossil fuels, ores and minerals an environment problem? The excessive use of these resources generates problems such as toxic pollution, waste generation, force feeding of the ecosystems, and changes in the composition of the atmosphere. But these problems derive from the use of the resource, not from the depletion itself. For this reason, and because it is covered by other policy fields, the pollution aspect is outside the scope of this chapter. In addition, the depletion of the economic assets caused by these pollution aspects, which is a basic parameter in sustainable development policies, is not included here. Resource depletion is only an environmental problem if we consider the relationship between resource use in the production/consumption process and the ecosphere. We can identify three types of natural resource: material and energy, the ecosystems and land. These can be economic assets or nonmarketed resources. Water resources and biodiversity, as one dimension of the biosphere resource, could be included as essential issues in the resource cluster. As they constitute separate items in this book, they are less developed in the present chapter. From the point of view of...

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