Meaning, Types, And Examples Of Natural Resources
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Natural resources refer to a wide range of materials, substances, and energy sources. They are useful for economic growth. However, natural resources are limited and therefore need to be managed and conserved responsibly to ensure that they can be used sustainably by future generations.
What Are Natural Resources?
Natural resources are materials, substances, and energy sources that are naturally occurring in the environment and can be utilized by living organisms. They are not created by human beings and can be utilized for economic activities such as production and consumption.
Natural resources include resources that are currently useful or can be useful in the future under certain social, economic, or technological circumstances. Examples of natural resources include minerals, water, land, forests, wildlife, air, and geothermal power.
Types Of Natural Resources
There are primarily two categories of natural resources, which are:
Natural resources that can be naturally and sustainably replenished over time include solar energy, wind, timber, water, forests, and wildlife. These types of resources are generally referred to as renewable resources.
Unlike non-renewable resources, renewable resources are available in infinite quantities and can be reused multiple times without being depleted. As long as sustainable management practices are implemented, renewable resources are considered inexhaustible. They are also environmentally friendly and cost-effective.
The resources that are limited in abundance and cannot be naturally replenished once they are consumed are called non-renewable resources. Examples of non-renewable resources include fossil fuels like coal, oil, and natural gas, as well as minerals like gold and silver.
Due to their finite nature, there is a possibility that these resources may run out in the future. Non-renewable resources take millions of years to form and are consumed more rapidly than they can replenish themselves. These resources are expensive and less environmentally friendly compared to renewable resources.
Examples Of Natural Resources
There are various natural resources present on our planet, but we will start this list by highlighting the top 5 essential natural resources.
The exchange of gases between the environment and the body, regulation of body temperature, and aiding in fuel combustion are some of the functions of air. Ensuring clean air is essential for the survival of all living organisms on the planet. Therefore, it is imperative to take steps to minimize air pollution.
Aquatic ecosystems depend on water as a fundamental element that provides shelter and nourishment for a variety of living creatures. It serves as a dwelling and a means of sustenance for aquatic plants and animals and is essential for the provision of oxygen.
Despite the fact that 70% of the Earth’s surface is covered in water, only 2% of that is freshwater. Therefore, it is essential to replenish our bodies with fluids and foods that contain water. Water is also utilized for transportation, underscoring its significance in our daily lives.
Forests serve multiple purposes that are advantageous for both humans and the natural world. These include providing a living space for diverse flora, fauna, and microorganisms, safeguarding the soil, water, and climate, and maintaining the ecological balance.
Additionally, forests offer oxygen, employment, food, and fuel to billions of individuals across the globe, including Indigenous groups. They also help to maintain clean air and the ecological integrity of the planet. Nevertheless, trees are being felled for housing and infrastructure developments.
The functions of soil are vital for a range of agricultural, environmental, and nature protection purposes. Soil is made up of different particles and nutrients that facilitate plant growth.
Its functions consist of providing a protective environment and physical support for plant roots, storing and distributing nutrients to plants, and changing the atmosphere by releasing and taking in gases and dust.
Due to its strength and durability, timber is a popular choice for construction materials in various infrastructure projects such as buildings and bridges. It is also widely utilized in furniture making as a source of raw material for crafting wooden products. Furthermore, timber is also employed as a heat source for cooking activities.
Coal, which is a finite natural resource, is utilized for energy production purposes. It is combusted in power plants to create steam, which then powers turbines that produce electricity. Despite the availability of alternative energy sources, coal still remains a prominent global energy source.
Oil is a finite natural resource utilized for energy production, transportation, and manufacturing. It is used in the lubrication system of engines, where it serves to reduce friction and wear on moving parts, as well as cleaning the machine from sludge and varnish.
Iron is a naturally occurring substance that has various applications in the construction of sturdy weapons, transportation systems, and buildings and machinery. It is utilized in geological exploration.
Wildlife refers to a diverse array of organisms, such as mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and invertebrates. This natural resource has multiple uses, including providing sustenance, serving as a source of leisure activities, and attracting visitors to tourist destinations.