The Diminution Of Natural Resources

The history of cod fishing in the Atlantic Ocean is a graphic example of the abundance of resources available in past centuries and the way in which those resources have been enormously diminished within the last century. For hundreds and in some cases thou sands of years, the ability of man to harvest resources, renewable resources in any case, was exceeded by the fertility of nature in replacing them. The development of industrialized harvesting techniques succeeded not only in depleting the stocks of the fish, but also seriously damaged the environment, including the ecology, in which the cod thrived. The diminution of this resource, in common with so many others, has been so severe that it is not possible to recreate a satisfactory understanding of the amount of the resource previously available. This makes it extremely difficult to identify means of returning to the status quo before overexploitation and, hence, it is not very likely that such a state could ever be attained. It would take an event as severe in its impact as World War II, which effectively prevented deep sea fishing in the Atlantic Ocean altogether for several years, for fish stocks to be replenished to any meaningful degree.

Overfishing has probably already destroyed ocean ecologies beyond repair, and the same is true of the logging of hardwood trees in the former rainforests of Thailand and Burma. Arguments persist over whether the production of oil and natural gas has yet peaked, or is at its maximum now, but the existing oil is not going to be replenished. Human society must prepare to live in a world in which many of the resources on which it had previously relied are no longer available.

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