Natural resource

naturally occurring resource, including mineral resources (e.g. metal ores), mined fossil fuels (e.g. petroleum), water resources (e.g. lakes and groundwater), water energy resources, timber, arable land, game (e.g. deer), fish in water bodies, etc.

A natural resource is what people can use from the natural environment. Examples of natural resources are air, water, wood, oil, wind energy, natural gas, iron, and coal.

The natural resource of wind drives these 5MW wind turbines on a wind farm in Belgium

The dividing line between natural resources and man-made resources is not clear-cut. Hydro-electric energy is not a natural resource because people use turbines and generators to convert the energy of moving water to electric current. Petroleum and ores are natural, but need work to make them into usable refined oil and metals. Atomic energy comes from metallic nuclear fuel, like fissionable uranium and plutonium, but rocks need technical work to make them into these nuclear fuels.

Supply change

We often say there are two sorts of natural resources: renewable resources and non-renewable resources.

  • A renewable resource is one that can be used again and again. For example, soil, sunlight and water are renewable resources. However, in some circumstances, even water is not renewable easily. Wood is a renewable resource, but it takes time to renew, and in some places, people use the land for something else. Soil, if it blows away, is not easy to renew.
  • A non-renewable resource is a resource that does not grow and come back or a resource that would take a very long time to come back. For example, coal is a non-renewable resource. When we use coal, there is less coal afterward. The non-renewable resource can be used directly (for example, burning oil to cook), or we can find a renewable resource to use (for example, using wind energy to make electricity to cook).
Soil, a natural resource for farming.

Most natural resources are limited. This means they will eventually run out. A perpetual resource has a never-ending supply. Some examples of effectively perpetual resources include solar energy, tidal energy, and wind energy.[1] They are perpetual in effect, although absolutely they do have a limit. There may be a practical limit to how much can be taken in a given day or year, but that amount can be taken again next day or next year (though not for ever).

Non perpetual resources include fossil fuels such as petroleum, coal, etc.[1] They have a limit of usage, and are running out. Some of the things influencing the supply of resources include whether it is able to be recycled, and whether there are suitable substitutes for the material. Non-renewable resources cannot be recycled. For example, fossil fuels cannot be recycled.

Demand change

The demand for resources can change with new technology, new needs, and new economics (e.g. changes in cost of the resources). Some material can go completely out of use, if people do not want it any more. Demand of many natural resources is very high, but availability of some, such as precious metals, is very low.

Availability change

Different places have different natural resources. When people do not have a certain resource they need, they can either replace it with another resource, or trade with another country to get the resource. People have sometimes fought to have them (for example, spices, water,[2] arable farmland, gold, or petroleum).

When people do not have some resources, their quality of life can get lower. So, people protect resources. When they can not get clean water, people may become ill; if there is not enough wood, trees will be cut and the forest will disappear over time (deforestation); if there are not enough fish in a sea, people can die of starvation. Renewable resources include crops, wind, hydroelectric power, fish, and sunlight Many people carefully save their natural resources so that others can use them in future.

References change

  1. 1.0 1.1 ASTM E2114 - 08 Standard Terminology for Sustainability Relative to the Performance of Buildings. West Conshohocken, PA: ASTM International. 2008. pp. 611–618.
  2. Griffin, Daniel. "Landlord stabs tenant during fight over water, Ohio police say". Fox 59.

Other websites change