A natural resource is “materials from the Earth that are used to support life and meet people's and animal’s needs”(DHEC’s office of solid waste reduction and recycling). Any natural substance that humans use can be considered a natural resource. Some Natural resources are also renewable, which means they can be used and used and used again. Examples of natural resources that are renewable would be solar energy, water, wind energy, and biomass energy. Examples of natural resources that are not renewable are oil, natural gases, coal, and nuclear energy. Both types of nature Resources are used every day by many living things, example would be that Humans use oil to power cars, planes, and boats. Every living thing uses natural gases to breathe depending on the living creature it could be Carbon Dioxide and others use oxygen.
This project will examine the arguments for and against the argument “are natural resources a curse”.It will also look at the consequences this has on many different perspectives, global and local. it will include a proper well, developed, and relevant course of action and finally my own opinions and reflections at the end
Why are natural resources a curse?
“The resource curse is a term used to describe a paradoxical situation in which a country underperforms economically, despite being home to valuable natural resources.”(Investopedia )Natural resources are cursed for mainly two reasons. The first is that the “resource curse mainly occurs when a country begins to focus all of its production means on a single industry, such as mining or oil production, and neglects investment in other major sectors. At times, the resource curse can also result from government corruption”.
In this project, I’ll be looking at how it affects the environment and the people who are equally left with nothing from the over-exploitation of these natural resources
Natural resources are supposed to be used to benefit a country or even just the community around it and the people that use and need them. This doesn’t seem to be the case for a number of reason, one could be that the government is corrupt and let foreigners that have the money pay in. This disregards the needs of the country's people and could lead to internal conflict which worst case scenario would end in a civil war. An example would be the titanium crisis in kwale Kenya. It’s displaced over 3000 people from their homes just to make space for mining. The mining of titanium started in around 2010 and has made 220 million shillings(according to KTN news).
Consequences of overexploitation on natural resources.
Even though natural resources are produced my earth without human intervention and can be used over and over again, if they're used faster than they can regenerate, they can run out or be exhausted. Humans are responsible for preserving natural resources and have been doing a poor job. According to the WWF, “current overexploitation of natural resources is generating an enormous deficit, as 20% more than can be regenerated is consumed each year and this percentage is growing steadily. if we continue at this rate, we would need 2.5 planets to supply ourselves in 2050, (according to the World Wide Fund for Nature itself). In turn, this organization shows that the world's population of fish, birds, mammals, amphibians, and reptiles declined by 58 % between 1970 and 2012 due to human activities and predicts that by 2020 this percentage will soar to 67%.
This type of uncontrollable use of natural resources could lead to environmental, economical, and animal health decline and destruction.
For environmental This has led to the destruction of animal habitats. It's called habitat degradation and is when “Pollution, invasive species, and disruption of ecosystem processes (such as changing the intensity of fires in an ecosystem) are some of the ways habitats can become so degraded, they no longer support native wildlife. Over 30 million plants and animals have gone extinct due to their habitat going extinct, examples are Sumatran Rhinos, Chimpanzees, and Mountain gorillas. Other types of environmental damage are ecological disturbances, destruction of natural flora and fauna, and pollution of airs
Economic consequences are to do mostly with the amount of money required to maintain mining sites, oil platforms in the sea, and even forests and animal wildlife. “33% of the world's soils are moderate to highly degraded, (according to a United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization ).building of new facilities has a bad result as it has to use a lot of space. This is because natural resources are found in wide areas of land. This can result in people being forcefully moved just like what I mentioned about over 3000 people in kwale being moved to make room for titanium mining.
For animal health, Due to the cutting of trees, the CO2 has been going down and is going down rapidly. “Air must be monitored in order to control and lower pollution levels, control smoke caused by wildland fires, and to monitor air quality”. If this type of control does not happen it could “harm human and animal health, injure trees and other plants, acidify or cause unnatural fertilization of streams and lakes, leaching nutrients from soils, and degrade cultural resources, like archeological sites and historical buildings. )“nine out of ten people worldwide breathe air with high levels of pollutants and seven million people die each year from air pollution.” (According to the World Health Organization)
A local perspective would be the titanium issue I mentioned earlier in the introduction. Titanium is a valuable metal because it’s resistant to corrosion, has low density, and has high strength. Due to it being very valuable, a Kenyan company called base titanium started production around late 2013 and has been in a long battle to keep mining in kwale. The reason that has been heavy opposition has been for many reasons. One of them would be the titanium itself. Titanium has impurities of iron, thorium, and uranium, if spilled or stockpiled by the company or even locals could lead to environmental degradation and marine wildlife would be put in danger due to the high levels of radioactivity. This would affect the locals as for most of them fishing is their source of income and if the marine life was to be endangered it would put them in a terrible position and worst case some would die. It could also affect the locals' heath in the long term giving them cancer and cardiovascular diseases.
This crisis is kwale is affecting the people and the community but why are they still mining if they know it harms the ecosystem and environment? They do this because titanium is a valuable mineral. “Rough estimates show that 250,000 tonnes of Titanium ores will be reported per year from Kwale while some 3.2 billion tonnes of the same mineral deposits can be found in the Kilifi area”(according to Lucie Greyl ). This made Kenya Sh 3.6 billion. This is the main reason titanium is still being mined.
From a global perspective. I have decided to research the overexploitation of oil in Venezuela. The over-exploitation of oil in Venezuela is one of the best examples of what over-exploitation of natural resources can do to a country. Venezuela is the home to one of the biggest oil reserves in the world “at an estimated 304 billion barrels (18% of global reserves) as of 2020”(Wikipedia ). “Decades of poor governance have driven what was once one of Latin America’s most prosperous countries to economic and political ruin”(). Venezuela is being affected environmentally by the amount of oil they drill and it’s starting to take a toll on them to the point they can’t reverse it. “The grave consequences of Venezuela’s environmental degradation can be felt in every corner of the country. In the waterways near the Caribbean Sea, fishermen haul in oil-soaked catches from blackened boats. Recent satellite imagery provided by the National Aeronautical and Space Administration of Lake Maracaibo, one of the country’s most ecologically diverse areas owing to its brackish waters, shows the body of water swirling with oil slicks.”
Venezuela is suffering extremely from oil mining and since the decline of oil in 2010 it’s affected the ecosystem and economy. This is because Venezuela relied on its oil for most of its trade. When prices went down for oil they were left without an income.
Reasons against over-exploitation of natural resources
Even though science and technology have proven that over-exploitation of natural resources will lead to a global crisis that won’t be reversible by 2040, they are a lot of people and governments who still think that over-exploiting these resources are okay. They are many reasons to over-exploit natural resources. One of the reasons against stopping over-exploitation would be that “The Earth's natural resources are vital to the survival and development of the human population”(European environment agency). This is true because since humans were able to exploit these natural resources we have been one of the main reasons for our development. We need oil and metal and a bunch of other resources to build rockets to explore space. Simple things like jewelry need us to like gold and iron.
Cars planes and boats our main ways of travel need oil. This has let the over-exploitation of natural resources to continue due to humans' high living standards.
Biodiversity loss is becoming a bigger problem than we ever thought it could be. It's estimated that half of all the species on the planet could go extinct by 2050 — only 32 years from now.”(Donovan Alexander). Even though humans are mostly to blame for all the biodiversity and ecosystem loss, sometimes it happens naturally, forest fires, floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions are some of the natural disasters that affect the ecosystem. But the parts that humans are responsible for our major, Deforestation, invasion of species, pollution, and climate change.
But it’s not too late, we can still save the ecosystem by recycling. “Recycling is the process of converting waste materials into new materials and objects. . “(Wikipedia). “When we recycle, used materials are converted into new products, reducing the need to consume natural resources. If used materials are not recycled, new products are made by extracting fresh, raw materials from the Earth, through mining and forestry. Recycling helps conserve important raw materials and protects natural habitats for the future.”(Veolia). This is the main way that recycling can help with saving the ecosystem.
Another way would be to set up ministries that would then set guidelines like what the Kenya ministry of mining did with Haller park “which is a nature park in Bamburi, Mombasa, on the Kenyan coast. It is the transformation of a quarry wasteland into an ecological area. Haller Park holds a variety of plant and animal species which serve as a recreation spot for tourists and locals.” (Wikipedia). This shows that with proper management we can not only fix wastelands and mining sites but we can transform them into beneficial areas for the earth.
I was intrigued to see that countries with a lot of valuable natural resources Seem to be doing worse economically and environmentally. I’ve learned that even though overexploitation is bad for future generations and the earth, we have done it to the point that our locking standards will go down significantly. Therefore I think that we have to find a long-term solution that has to do with renewable energy.