What is overconsumption?

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dhenrikson's profile pic

dhenrikson | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

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Overconsumption is the unsustainable use of a resource, such as water, food, materials for shelter, and/or oxygen. An important thing to remember is this can be at the local level or the global level. If at the local level, import of more resources or relocation of the organism (migration) can resolve the problem. This is observed in large migrating species that overconsume a food resource such as grass as they pass through an area. If at the global level, there may be a loss in population size until the resource recovers, assuming the resource can recover. There could be a catastrophic crash of the population leading to extinction or speciation. Overconsumption can be confused with overpopulation. One difference is overpopulation can lead to overconsumption, but the reverse is not necessarily true. Also, with regards to humans, overpopulation may affect a particular area, but overconsumption can affect areas far away.

gsenviro's profile pic

gsenviro | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Overconsumption refers to use of resources at an unsustainable pace. Simply put, if the resources are being used at a rate greater than their rate of generation (or replenishment), such a consumption scenario will be termed overconsumption. Sustained overconsumption results in depletion of resources and their ultimate exhaustion. For example, the pace at which we are using fossil fuels (such as coal and petroleum), will lead to us running out of them in the next few decades (or a century). This is because fossil fuels take millions of years to form, while we have been using them for the last (around) 150-170 years, but at an unsustainable pace. We will ultimately run out of them and have to switch to alternative energy sources. In terms of the ecosystem, an overconsumption of resources, say grass for deer, will cause depletion of food sources and deer will either die out or migrate to other locations. 

loves2learn's profile pic

loves2learn | (Level 3) Salutatorian

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Overconsumption is the process of using resources faster than they are produced. Essentially, too many people are using too many of the Earth’s natural resources before they can be replenished, which may eventually lead to a shortage.

Overconsumption can be a detriment to society. If there are not enough resources left, then a species may die out. This will lead to catastrophic environmental effects because the predator that ate the species will also die out, considering that there is no longer food for them. This process will continue to occur on all levels.

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