Resource extraction is the cause of half the world’s carbon footprint

If climate change was a super-villain, it would probably be the extraction industry.

A new study by the United Nations has just revealed a fact that is not very surprising, but extremely alarming. The extraction industry is responsible for half of the planet’s carbon emissions, as well as being responsible for the loss of 80% of the world’s biodiversity.

This comes from an extensive report that looked at agriculture and mining. The UN recognizes that industry is essential for the generation of food, fuel and minerals while at the same time the environmental impact is generating a much higher level of stress on climate and biodiversity than previously thought.

Resources are being extracted from the planet 3 times faster when compared to levels in 1970, even though in that same time period, the world population has only doubled.

The study, entitled “Global Resources Outlook”, was released at the fourth UN General Assembly (UNEP) in Nairobi, Ethiopia. The study points out that the planet’s annual consumption can be accounted for at 92 billion tons of materials. This figure has an increase rate of 3.2% per year.

Materials consumed include: biomass, metals, minerals and fossil fuels, whose annual extraction (coal, oil and gas) has increased from 6 billion tons to 15 billion tons since 1970. Extraction of metals has an annual increase rate of 2.7 %, while some minerals (such as those used to make concrete) grew by almost 5 times, currently accounting for 44 billion tons. The biomass is not left out, with an observed increase of almost three times totaling 24 billion tons.

Until the 2000s, industry was a huge economic asset, boosting the global economy. However, nowadays the return on investment is falling, since the extraction is becoming increasingly expensive and the environmental impact, however easy it may be to ignore, is undeniable.


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