The exploitation of natural resources is the use of natural resources for economic growth, sometimes with a negative connotation of accompanying environmental degradation. Environmental degradation can result from depletion of natural resources, this would be accompanied by negative effects to the economic growth of the effected areas.
Exploitation of natural resources started to emerge on an industrial scale in the 19th century as the extraction and processing of raw materials (such as in mining, steam power, and machinery) developed much further than it had in preindustrial areas. During the 20th century, energy consumption rapidly increased. Today, about 80% of the world's energy consumption is sustained by the extraction of fossil fuels, which consists of oil, coal and natural gas.
Another non-renewable resource that is exploited by humans is subsoil minerals such as precious metals that are mainly used in the production of industrial commodities. Intensive agriculture is an example of a mode of production that hinders many aspects of the natural environment, for example the degradation of forests in a terrestrial ecosystem and water pollution in an aquatic ecosystem. As the world population rises and economic growth occurs, the depletion of natural resources influenced by the unsustainable extraction of raw materials becomes an increasing concern.