Conservation, or the preservation of the world's natural resources, mitigates or reverses the negative effects of human activity. Many of the Earth's resources are non-renewable; once depleted, they are gone for good. Without intervention, oil, minerals and coal will eventually run out, and animals and plants may become extinct. Environmental pollution, species extinction and global climate change are all in part results of human mismanagement of the Earth's resources.
Environmental pollution endangers the survival of all life, as industrial waste and chemical contaminants accumulate in the environment and are absorbed into the food web. Plastics are broken down and absorbed into the bodies of animals, fish and humans as damaging chemicals and float as giant trash islands in the ocean. Cleaning up lakes, rivers and oceans is a major initiative of conservation.
Efforts toward conservation also involve the protection of endangered species of animals. The Endangered Species Act of 1973 attempts to preserve these species by redressing population levels so low that a species may not survive. Successful breeding programs in the United States have brought several endangered species back to safe levels, including the bald eagle and the gray wolf. Worldwide, the giant pandas are another such endangered species.
Global climate change and attempts to reduce its negative effects intersect all conservation efforts, because the Earth is one interconnected biome, notes the University of California Museum of Paleontology. Conservation principles require that people reduce, reuse and recycle as many resources as possible.