The way we deal with our need for resources has and will always have a huge impact on the environment. It’s possible to be relatively low-impact in extracting, transporting, and utilizing the resources that we need, but this gets expensive – and in an increasingly global economy, environmental concerns often lose out to the overriding need to compete with cheaper products made in places with less-stringent environmental regulations.
This has numerous negative effects on the environment, ranging from toxic spills, greenhouse gas emissions, possible water-table pollutants from fracking… and that’s only the hydrocarbons. Extracting minerals causes destruction of entire mountains (with an accompanying destruction of habitat), pollution of rivers with highly toxic mine tailings, and all of the pollution that processing those minerals into useable form creates. Many of these processes also require large amounts of water, which is being extracted from our rivers and reservoirs at such a rate that the environment in many parts of the nation is becoming dangerously parched. The list goes on, unfortunately – I’ve only hit a few of the highlights, here.