What are natural resources?
One thing is certain: natural resources are fundamental to everyone's life. With the term natural resources, we intend to group together all those substances, forms of energy and environmental forces present on earth which, after being transformed, are capable of producing value. Simplifying, we could also define a natural resource as any reality not produced by man that is capable of producing wealth .
This definition is general and, as we said, is linked to the economic system of the society in which it is found. Therefore, it is normal that it changes rapidly throughout history. In contemporary society, for example, environmental resources are also considered a natural resource:
- the conservation of biodiversity
- protection of the landscape
- the fight against pollution
Some natural resources can be used in their raw state (e.g. wood), while others need to be transformed in order to be used (e.g. steel). If we think about it, all resources serve a purpose! In particular, there are several that are most useful to man for living, while others are essential for the sustenance of animals and plants.
The importance of natural resources
From an economic point of view, these resources are very important for the well-being and development of human society. However, every element or good that nature provides us with is useful to satisfy the vital needs of both humans and other living beings. All forms of life, animal or vegetable, need natural resources to live. Consequently, it is easy to understand how their availability is an essential condition for living peacefully.
Types of natural resources
It is possible to distinguish the following types of natural resources based on their sources:
- Biological resourcesBiological resources: land, agricultural products and organic raw materials.
- Mineral resourcesall those extracted from the earth, including metals and inorganic raw materials
- Energy resourcesnatural resources that enable energy to be obtained. Wood, oil, sun, uranium are considered energy resources
- Environmental resources: landscape protection, biodiversity and environment
In general, natural resources are classified into two major groups: renewable natural resources and non-renewable natural resources. This distinction is based on whether or not the resource will reduce in quantity over time or as a result of human exploitation:
- Renewable natural resourcesRenewable natural resources: they regenerate at each natural cycle and in fact are also called regenerable resources. Examples of renewable natural resources arewater, solar radiation, wind and biomass
Non-renewable natural resourcesare determined for a much longer regeneration time (sometimes thousands of years). Exhaustible resources are available in nature as stocks that decline with use. In addition, these resources exist in limited quantities. Examples of non-renewable natural resources are the various fossil fuels such as coal, oil, or natural gas; minerals, metals, and nuclear fuels.
The current availability of natural resources
The major environmental problems we face today are largely the result of humanover-exploitation of natural resources. In particular of fossil fuels, minerals, water, soil and biodiversity.
In September 2010, Scientific American magazine published a graph showing numbers that were not at all comforting regarding the annual rates of exploitation and pollution. The title of the graph was "How Much Is Left?" and it clearly showed how the availability of some natural resources is at the limit; this is the case of silver (disappearing by 2030), indium (unavailable by 2028), gold (exhausted by 2030) and copper.
How to try to solve these problems? Trying to extend the life of products and reducing their environmental footprint as much as possible, with a view to safeguarding the planet.
Do you want to do your part? Change your habits, starting with the products you use every day! Choose R5 Living: for a cleaner and more sustainable world inside and outside your home.