5 Causes of Resource Depletion Explained

Causes of resource depletion are; industrialization, overpopulation, unsustainable consumerism, environmental hazards, and technical limitations.

This article discusses the causes of resource depletion, as follows;



1). Industrialization (as one of the Causes of Resource Depletion)

All forms of technological and industrial development can lead to resource depletion.

This is because industry and technology both require significant amounts of resources like metals (iron, tin) and energy sources (coal, petroleum, natural gas) [2]. The demand for these resources increase with the level of reliance on technology for everyday life.

Due to this correlation, industrialization as a cause of resource depletion, can linked to other causes like overpopulation.

Addressing the issue of resource depletion caused by industrial development, can be done by implementing innovative measures that optimize energy conservation and efficiency; such as recycling, energy recovery, and renewable energy development.

A circular economic approach, sustainable agriculture, conservative manufacturing, and optimized production through artificial intelligence can also reduce the consumption of resources in the industrial sector.

Causes of Resource Depletion: Industrialization (Credit: Yumingshe 2014 .CC BY-SA 4.0.)
Causes of Resource Depletion: Industrialization (Credit: Yumingshe 2014 .CC BY-SA 4.0.)


2). Overpopulation

Overpopulation is one of the most basic and obvious causes of resource depletion.

With increase in population, the scale of consumption increases. This implies that the resources which are consumed become more susceptible to depletion under conditions of overpopulation.

Resources that are depleted in overpopulated areas are mainly the essential resources like land, water, food, and air [5]. While these resources are mostly renewable; excessive demand, coupled with unsustainable methods of consumption, can cause the available reserves to decrease significantly.

Overpopulation is particularly important because it has the capacity to deplete resources in all sectors of the economy, including agriculture, transport, building, and energy.

Areas affected by overpopulation also experience difficulties managing waste, and are prone to various types of environmental degradation, which could further deplete natural resources in such areas.

Causes of Resource Depletion: Overpopulation (Credit: Vivi Portela 2012 .CC BY 2.0.)
Causes of Resource Depletion: Overpopulation (Credit: Vivi Portela 2012 .CC BY 2.0.)


3). Unsustainable Consumerism (as one of the Causes of Resource Depletion)

Consumerism has to do with patterns and behaviors of consumers and the effects of these on the economy.

A major effect of unsustainable consumer behavior is resource depletion.

When economies are operated based on a linear model of continuous, large-scale production without equivalent scale of conservation and recycling, resource depletion is inevitable [4].

In several cases, production and consumption increases are deliberately performed and encouraged as a means to boost the economy and create jobs. While this could be effective, its effects are usually short-term.

A more recommendable approach to consumption is one which leads to sustainability, stability, and long-term yield.

Consumer behavior can be adjusted in a favorable direction by enforcing policies that facilitate recycling, reuse, and general management of resources for both producers and consumers.

Carbon tax policy is one of such tools that can help mitigate unsustainable resource usage, as well as climate change [1]. Others include waste disposal and product use policies.

The potential results of such measures include improvement of product quality and reduction of production scale, environmental conservation and resource availability.


4). Environmental Hazards

Environmental hazard is both a cause and an effect of resource depletion.

As a cause of resource depletion, both manmade and natural hazards can reduce the amount of available and usable resources.

Natural hazards like wildfire, flooding, earthquakes, landslides, and erosion, can all lead to loss of resources.

Deforestation is an example of resource depletion that could be caused by wildfire [3]. Here, vegetation (or plant biomass) is lost in significant amounts from forests and other vegetated areas.

Being an important carbon sink, the loss of vegetation can lead to further environmental degradation in the form of desertification, greenhouse emission, ozone layer depletion, and general reduction of air quality.

Environmental impacts of manmade processes, like mining-related pollution, can cause resource depletion by degrading available reserves and rendering them unfit for use.


5). Technical Limitations (as one of the Causes of Resource Depletion)

Lack of innovation is an uncommon yet effective cause of resource depletion.

‘Innovation’ here refers to methods and tools that optimize the patterns of resource extraction and processing, product manufacturing, as well as consumption.

In many cases, innovation itself is driven and influenced by the need to conserve resources and avoid unsustainable conditions in the society.

An example of the role of technical and knowledge limitations in resource depletion can be seen in the agricultural sector, where conventional agriculture leads to depletion and degradation, whereas sustainable agricultural practices and principles like organic farming, biodynamic farming and precision agriculture, enable farmers to mitigate negative impacts while ensuring long-term profitability.

Other innovative inputs include energy management systems, smart grids, artificial intelligence-based manufacturing, and renewable energy facilities, all of which, if well-applied, can reduce the rate of consumption and wastage of raw materials.



Causes of resource depletion are;

1. Industrialization

2. Overpopulation

3. Unsustainable Consumerism

4. Environmental Hazards

5. Technical Limitations



1). Ghazouani, A.; Xia, W.; Jebli, M. B.; Shahzad, U. (2020). “Exploring the Role of Carbon Taxation Policies on CO2 Emissions: Contextual Evidence from Tax Implementation and Non-Implementation European Countries.” Sustainability 2020, 12(20), 8680. Available at: https://doi.org/10.3390/su12208680. (Accessed 18 October 2022).

2). Gupta, R. C. (2014). “Energy Resources, Its Role and Use in Metallurgical Industries.” Treatise on Process Metallurgy (pp.1425-1458). Available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-08-096988-6.00034-1. (Accessed 18 October 2022).

3). Juarez, S.; Siebe, C.; Fernández, D. F. (2017). “Causes and Effects of Forest Fires in Tropical Rainforests: A Bibliometric Approach.” Tropical Conservation Science 10(104):194008291773720. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1177/1940082917737207. (Accessed 18 October 2022).

4). Mihai, F. C.; Ionuț, M. (2021). “Sustainable Alternative Routes Versus Linear Economy and Resources Degradation in Eastern Romania.” Sustainability 13(19):10574. Available at: https://doi.org/10.3390/su131910574. (Accessed 18 October 2022).

5). Sarbapriya, R.; Aditya, I. (2011). “Impact of Population Growth on Environmental Degradation: Case of India.” Journal of Economics 2(8). Available at: https://www.iiste.org/Journals/index.php/JEDS/article/view/627. (Accessed 18 October 2022).

Similar Posts