Terrestrial resources are more commonly known as natural resources and refer to that body of naturally occurring substances used in production. Such resources include water, fresh air, oil, natural gas and soil minerals. As many of these are depleting quickly, the issues involved here are substantial and go straight to the heart of such phenomena as urbanization and industrialization and their tendency to deplete natural resources quickly.
Fresh water is a major issue. The American Midwest has seen a substantial depletion of its water table for the past 20 years, with the table itself receding about one foot per year. Since many lakes and rivers are polluted throughout the world, issues of fresh water for both drinking and irrigation are important questions. The wealthy Gulf Arab states have built huge desalinization plants to create a small but usable fresh water reserve for their desert climates. But large populations and urbanization quickly deplete the water availability in any area.
The continued rising price of oil since the early 1990s is a well-known resource issue. Arab states with large oil reserves have made long-term investments in other industries for when the oil runs out. In 2006, the world used up 3.9 billion tons of oil. In 1995, Petroconsultants, a Swiss oil research firm, predicted that the world's oil supply would peak between 2000 and 2010, and begin to slowly drop off after that time. China is one of the world's largest industrializing economies whose demand for oil will soon catch up that of the United States, whose use far outstrips all other countries. China's rising population of over 1 billion will put a massive strain on the already disappearing oil supplies of the globe.
In many parts of the world, including India, Bangladesh and China, arable land is quickly disappearing. As populations grow and cities place a huge demand on the resources of the countryside, farmland is being absorbed into urban sprawl. In Bangladesh, the government has recently taken action against the disappearance of farmland as a threat to the economic security of the country. The government has announced that the country, due to urbanization and population growth, is losing about 1 percent of its farmland each year, which amounts to 80,000 hectares.
- The Financial Express: Fast Depletion of Arable Land: Tasks Ahead
- Principles of Sustainable Development; F. Douglas Muschett, C. Lee Campbell (1997)
- USGS: Groundwater Depletion
- The Worldwatch Institute: Window to Prevent Catastrophic Climate Change Closing; EU Should Press for Immediate U.S. Action
- Carl Emery: Fossil Fuel Depletion
- rocks image by Albert Lozano from Fotolia.com