Why save the planet’s resources: ecology articles ➕1, 28/04/2022

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From an ecological point of view, all natural resources are divided into exhaustive (in the process of use, their quality may be depleted or degraded) and inexhaustible (they will not be depleted in the near future). The latter include the energy of the sun, the ebbs and flows, the wind, the currents and the bowels of the earth.

Exhausting resources are:

Renewable energy sources – can recover on their own or thanks to environmental measures (water, soil, land, flora and fauna).

Non-renewable – their reserves are not replenished, or it happens extremely late, in whole geological seasons (minerals).

The resilience of the planet is declining, as is the quality of resources vital to humanity. The reasons for this are the pollution of the natural environment, the uncontrolled activities of poachers, as well as the culture of over-consumption.

The problems of conservation of natural resources, especially the extinction of rare species, will remain relevant as long as there is mass poaching. Thus, in the last century, the African elephant population decreased by 90% due to their hunting for tusks. The Intergovernmental Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) estimates that approximately 10% of plant and animal species will become extinct in the coming decades.

The UN World Wildlife Crime Report notes that in 1999-2019, some 6,000 species of mammals, corals, birds and fish were trafficked.

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Resource use problems are exacerbated by overconsumption. Buying food “in reserve”, closets full of clothes, the struggle for new models of gadgets and home appliances … For the sake of all this, many are charged and live on credit until the end of their lives. At the same time, one third of the food produced ends up in landfills. This is reflected in the state of the natural environment: up to 10% of greenhouse gases formed through human fault are associated with decomposing waste.

Frequent purchases also can not be called rational. According to a study by the transport company Movinga, people do not wear about half of their wardrobe. Thus, the inhabitants of Russia admitted that last year they did not wear 53% of their clothes. In the US, the figure was 82%, and in Switzerland – 79%. The consequences of “fast fashion” are truly striking: every second in the world, textiles are burned or thrown into a dump truck. Only 1% of clothes are recycled.

Pollution of the natural environment worsens the quality of water and air. Thus, 80% of wastewater is discharged into the ecosystem without prior treatment. The presence of disease-causing bacteria in the water is one of the main causes of high mortality: in the poorest areas, about 1.5 million children under the age of five die every year because of it. Many are forced to get used to thirst: 2.2 billion people in the world can not drink enough due to lack of free access to clean water.

Air pollution is one of the most serious threats to human health and the second leading cause of death from non-communicable diseases (after smoking). In 2019, 99% of Earthlings lived in areas where air quality did not meet World Health Organization (WHO) standards.

High concentration of CO2 in the air leads to a reduction in the nutritional value of plant foods. During photosynthesis, plant leaves convert carbon dioxide and water into organic matter. But when the CO2 becomes too much, this process is interrupted. According to the American Kushi Institute, from 1975 to 1997, the calcium content of fresh vegetables decreased by an average of 27%, vitamin A – by 21%, iron – by 37%, vitamin C – by 30%. This means that now we have to eat five oranges to get the same amount of vitamin A that our ancestors got from a fruit.

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According to the World Resources Institute (WRI), energy is responsible for 76% of global carbon dioxide emissions, which accelerates global warming.

Thermal power plants (TPPs) have the greatest negative impact on the environment. This is mainly due to the use of fossil fuels. When burned, emissions containing more than 100 toxic and radioactive substances, including heavy metal oxides and carbon dioxide, enter the atmosphere. And the composition of ash and slag, which remain after the combustion of fuel, includes arsenic and mercury. These toxic substances enter the air and are transported over long distances during the transport and storage of waste.

In addition, the reproduction of natural resources of fossil fuels is impossible. There are about 1.65 trillion barrels of oil left on the planet, enough for 47 years at current consumption levels. Then humanity will be forced to turn to the energy of the sun, wind, water and man.

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More than a third of the world’s land is used by farmers. However, suitable areas for plant cultivation are reduced by 12 million hectares per year due to desertification. This is an area of ​​about two thousand football fields. The main reason for the loss of the fertile soil layer is an irrational approach to resource use: uncontrolled grazing, violation of crop rotation, improper plowing. For example, once every five to six years, you should give the site a crop break to restore the soil’s chemical composition and microfauna. But such a simple method is not profitable for farmers, so they continue to use the land as long as at least something grows on it.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), by 2050, 90% of the land may be unsuitable for agriculture, threatening the world with an economic crisis and famine.

But even those plots that are still suitable for cultivation are often not used for their intended purpose. Thus, about 40 million hectares of agricultural land are licensed in Russia. Many areas are overgrown with forests. To return them to circulation, you must obtain a logging permit. To do this, it is necessary to develop a project with clarifications: how many trees are planned to be cut, there are some valuable species among them, how the land will be used.

Active agriculture in abandoned areas can be a threat to the environment. Mineral fertilizers are applied to restore soil fertility. In moderation, they really increase productivity without harming nature. However, when the dose is exceeded, nitrates accumulate in the plants. Once in the body, these substances cause mild poisoning and are converted to nitrosamines, which can cause cancer. In addition, the loss of fertilizers during transport and leaching from the fields disturbs the ecosystems of water bodies.

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Vera Zihareva

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