Human beings and other animals could survive on the planet earth only because it provided us with ample natural resources. Before we get to that, we need to discuss more the word resource itself. There are a lot of people who don’t know the right meaning and use of this word. So, let’s talk about it!
What’s a Resource?
A resource is a widely used word. We see this word in sentences like “We have enough resources to finish this job” and “What we lack is the resource”. However, it’s seen that the meaning of this word is ambiguous to many.
A resource is a source or supply that we can utilize to our own benefit. For example, if you have a computer in your home, that’s a resource for you. Then again, if you look at the Middle Eastern countries, you’ll see that they have an abundance of fuel resources.
Now, some of our readers asked us “What if you didn’t use a resource?” Let’s say that you have a computer in your home, which is definitely a resource, but what if you don’t use that to your benefit? What if you don’t use that at all? Will that still be a resource?
Yes, even if you don’t use something and if it offers the potential of a utility, it’ll be a resource irrespective of whether you use it or not.
Then again, resources can be divided into many types, and they can be classified from different perspectives as well. Classifying resources as per their usability, we get renewable resources and non-renewable resources. Then again, if you want to classify the resources according to their origin, you’ll find natural resources and artificial resources, and this is where we delve into the question “What are natural resources?”
What are Natural Resources?
It might seem that understanding what is natural resources can be easy at first, but trust me, it’s not. Let me give you a small example. If you look at coal mines and a garden and we tell you that only one of them is natural, you are more likely to think that the garden is a source of natural resource, and the most probable reason as to why you would think that is because you know that you need to go through a rigorous extraction process to get the coal from the mine.
However, this is not true. You need to extract the mine from the coal manually, it’s true. However, that coal exists there in its natural form, and that coal deposit is naturally there. It didn’t require any human intervention to form itself.
On the other hand, the garden wasn’t there from the beginning. You, or the person who owns the garden, had to work hard to grow the plants and veg, and this process is direct human intervention, making it an artificial resource.
From this discussion, we can conclude that the resources that don’t require any human intervention to exist are natural resources. Usually, natural resources include substances like soil, air, and water. Then again, different forms of energy present as fuel, such as coal and gas, are considered to be natural resources as well.
Now, it’s natural to think that soil and air are present everywhere, so what makes them count? Let us explain. One-fourth of the earth is composed of soil, and all of us live on some sort of landscape. However, the quality and type of soil aren’t the same in every place.
The quality of the soil differs by a great extent depending on the minerals and mineral water present in the soil mass. This affects the ability to plant and harvest different crops in that region, which in turn puts a heavy impact on our economy.
Then again, the air of a place might not seem to be much, but in reality, it is. Due to the impact of the industrial age, the air of different regions has become extremely polluted. Then again, it’s been quite some time that windmills have been developed, and if the airflow and air pressure of a certain region are high, then the air pressure and flow can be converted to electrical energy, which makes the air a resource.
What are Natural Resources: Different Types of Natural Resources:
As we’ve said before, resources can be classified from many perspectives. You can divide the natural resources into two types as well. There are renewable natural resources, and then there are non-renewable natural resources.
Renewable natural resources are the natural resources that you can recycle or increase in quantity even. These are resources such as forests, water, etc.
Then again, there are non-renewable resources. There’s no way to create a suitable environment for these resources to grow in a short time. For example, fossil fuels and minerals are non-renewable resources. These resources take thousands of years to deposit, and there’s no way to speed this process up. This is why most of the fuel sources of this world are getting exhausted fast, and there’s no way to revive them.
It would be wrong if we say that there are a few differences between non-renewable natural resources and renewable natural resources. In fact, these are a world apart from each other. In this section, we’ll talk a bit about their differences.
The only thing common between these two types of resources is that both of them are natural resources. Now, it’s time to look at their differences. Renewable natural resources are considered to have an infinite quantity as they can be renewed. On the other hand, the non-renewable natural resources aren’t available in an infinite quantity, and in fact, they are getting more and more scarce with each passing day.
From the boom of the industrial age, the usage of fuels increased by many folds. The more we are developing, the more we are increasing fuel usage. This is why fuels are becoming more and more scarce. The only way to stop the fuels from going completely extinct is if we stop using the fuels and find alternatives to them. If given enough time, the fuels might restock naturally. However, this is a very lengthy process, and generations of humans will pass without seeing the true result of this.
As renewable natural resources are considered to be present in an infinite amount, they are very cheap. On the other hand, non-renewable resources are quite expensive. You can understand this easily if you compare the prices of wood and oil. Even though the prices of lumbar has been on the rise recently, it’s still nothing compared to that of oil.
Then again, if you look at natural resources closely, you’ll find another type of resource. This type of natural resources will never run out, no matter how we use them. These are called perpetual natural resources. Some great examples of this type of energy are solar energy, wind energy, tidal energy, etc. As these resources will never be exhausted, the large corporations and research labs are trying hard to figure out ways so that we can shift to using these resources from non-renewable fuels fast. If we can’t make the change before the fossil fuels are completely exhausted, we’ll be in deep trouble.
Fortunately, we have succeeded to a great extent. Solar panels have become very efficient, and wind energy is becoming more and more available everywhere. This is why most people are shifting to these resources nowadays.
Demand and Availability of Natural Resources:
By now, hopefully, you understand “What are natural resources?”. The thing with natural resources is that these are hard to acquire in most cases, irrespective of whether it’s renewable or non-renewable. Here, the countries that have a good stock of natural resources have the upper hand in the world economy.
For example, if you look at the middle eastern countries, you’ll understand what we’re talking about. They have a huge oil reserve that’s completely unrivaled. It’s not as if they are the only countries with oil reserves. It’s just that they have way too much compared to others, and due to this, they are able to control the oil market.
Many renewable resources are found abundantly in most countries. For example, there are few countries that don’t come with any forest reserve at all. However, if a country has a forest reserve, it doesn’t mean that they are entitled to use it.
The industrial age has triggered a phenomenon that we know as global warming, and it’s extremely harmful to every living creature on the earth. To ensure that the earth and its living beings don’t get destroyed due to global warming, every country needs to protect its forest reserves up to some extent. It means, only the countries that have more forest reserves than they need to preserve will be able to spend this resource.
Most Important Natural Resources:
As we’ve said before, there are tons of natural resources on earth, and all of them are beneficial for us in one way or another. However, there are a few resources that we must need for our survival. We’re going to talk about the most important natural resources here.
Air is definitely one of the most important natural resources of the earth. Without air, we wouldn’t be here today. It’s the very essence of life. Although air pollution rose sharply from the industrial age and it’s still a major crisis, the situation is getting better every day thanks to a higher level of concern amongst industries and general people.
Other than that, air can also be used to produce different energies. For example, wind turbines are being used to convert wind energy to electrical energy, and these can generate lots of energy while being completely eco-friendly!
Soil masses are the very thing we live on, but there’s more to it than that. Soil masses hold tons of minerals and fuel. The luckier countries of this world have more of the fuels and minerals. This boosts their economy to a great extent.
However, it would be foolish to think that these are the only things that matter. The fertility of the soil is a major thing, and there are tons of countries that rely on other countries as a source of crops. This is why fertility is very important, and it’s a utility or a trait that comes along with the soil.
Even though we think that we have plenty of water judging from the fact that 70% of the earth is composed of water, the reality is that only 2% of that water is freshwater.
This means that there’s an acute scarcity of drinkable water, let alone pure water. This is why water isn’t actually an infinite resource from a few aspects. Then again, water is infinite from some perspectives. For example, tidal force is a huge source of generating electrical energy, and tidal force is infinite. It’s hard to imagine the earth without water, and it’s impossible that all the water of the earth will simply drain away someday. This is why water is also considered a perpetual resource in some cases.
Forest is extremely necessary for all the animals of the earth. Due to the scarcity of forests, we are already facing global warming, which is proving to be life-threatening for all of us. Then again, if there weren’t any plant on earth, we wouldn’t be able to live as the entire ecosystem revolves around plants. This is why forest reserves are considered one of the most important natural resources.
Although iron isn’t required for our survival, it’s extremely important for healthy living. We wouldn’t be where we are if our ancestors hadn’t learned the use of iron. Iron is used for making buildings and vehicles, which is why it’s considered one of the most important natural resources.
Hopefully, this discussion has provided sufficient answers to the question “What are natural resources?”.