Finite and Renewable Resources
Most resources are finite and we cannot produce an unlimited number of different goods and services
Indeed by supplying more for an ever-growing and richer population we are in danger of destroying the natural resources of the planet.
The Worldwide Fund for Nature has claimed that the natural world is being degraded "at a rate unprecedented in human history" and has warned that if demand continues at the current rate, two planets will be needed to meet global demand by 2050. Resources are being consumed faster than the planet can replace them
One issue is the threat posed by the shortage of water as the world's demand for household and commercial use continues to grow each year. Experts predict that half the world's population will be affected by water shortages in just 20 years' time. During the 20th century the world population increased fourfold, but the amount of freshwater that it used increased nine times over. Already 2.8 billion people live in areas of high water stress. For more on this issue visit the World Health Organisation's special web site on water scarcity.
At the heart of improving resource sustainability is the idea of de-coupling – trying to increase the efficiency with which resources are used and breaking the link between increasing demands and damaging resource depletion.
Renewable resources are commodities such as solar energy, oxygen, biomass, fish stocks or forestry that is inexhaustible or replaceable over time providing that the rate of extraction of the resource is less than the natural rate at which the resource renews itself. (This is important!)
Finite resources cannot be renewed. For example with plastics, crude oil, coal, natural gas and other items produced from fossil fuels, no mechanisms exist at present to replenish them.