21 Selected Natural Resources You Need to Know

A clean lake is one of the natural resources, surrounded by hills and greenery
Abundant natural resources create a picturesque destination like Lake Bled in Slovenia.

I. What Are Natural Resources?

Natural resources are materials from the environment that people use. Earth’s natural resources are materials that are used to support life and meet human requirements. 

Stone, sand, coal, oil, and metals are examples of natural resources. Among the other natural resources are water, soil, sunlight, air, and so forth.

Other examples of natural resources include fish, plants, animals, and birds. People consume food produced by both plants and animals.

Food, fuel, and the raw materials needed to manufacture goods are all produced using natural resources. Coal, natural gas, and oil are a few examples of items that can be utilized to generate heat, light, and electricity.

Daily items like toothbrushes, lunchboxes, clothing, automobiles, televisions, computers, and refrigerators are also made from natural resources.

The phrase “natural resource depletion” refers to how few resources are still present on Earth. As we use resources more quickly than they can be replenished, that occurs. Right now, that is a really serious problem. The rapid depletion of natural resources is one of the toughest environmental issues facing the globe.

According to Wikipedia,

Natural resources are resources that exist without actions of humankind. This includes all valued characteristics such as magnetic, gravitational, and electrical properties and forces.

On earth, it includes sunlight, atmosphere, water, land along with all vegetation and animal life that naturally subsists upon or within the heretofore identified characteristics and substances.

II. Why are natural resources critical?

Essential for Life:

Many of the natural resources—water, air, and soil—are basic for life itself. Drinking, farming, and sanitation depend on water. For breathing, air offers oxygen; it is also absolutely essential for many industrial operations. Thus, on the basis of agriculture, soil supports plant development and offers necessary nutrients.

Economic Importance:

The foundation of economies all around is natural resources. Development of infrastructure, manufacturing, and industry depends on minerals, fossil fuels, and metals. They produce jobs, boost national wealth, and propel economic development.

Energy Sources:

Meeting energy needs depends critically on fossil fuels, including coal, oil, and natural gas, as well as renewable sources, including sunlight, wind, and geothermal energy. Homes, companies, transportation, and technological developments all run on energy resources.

Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services:

Forests, sea resources, and regions rich in biodiversity all offer ecosystem services like carbon sequestration, climate control, water purification, and habitat for species. Maintaining biodiversity and ecological balance depends on the preservation of natural environments.

Food Security:

The production of food depends critically on agricultural resources like land, water, and biodiversity. Sustainable farming methods guarantee food security, nutrition, and resistance against various issues, such climate change.

Cultural and Social Significance:

For societies all around, natural resources are both socially and culturally significant. Often related to traditional activities, livelihoods, and cultural legacy, they shape identities and way of life.

Climate and Environmental Stability:

Natural resources help to control climate, cycle carbon, and preserve environmental stability. Reducing climate change and saving the earth for next generations depend on protecting ecosystems, lowering pollution, and changing to sustainable resource usage.

Natural resources are crucial overall because they are fundamental for sustaining life, supporting economies, generating energy, preserving biodiversity, guaranteeing food security, protecting culture, and so defending the environment. A sustainable and rich future depends on effective management, protection of these resources, and sustainable use of them.

III. Some statistics related to natural resources:

Water Resources:

Though just over 2.5% of the area of the Earth is freshwater, almost 71% of its surface is covered with water. Safely regulated drinking water services are not available to over two billion people globally.

More than 40% of the world’s population lives in locations where water is scarce for at least one month annually; forecasts show that by 2025, about 5.7 billion people could be residing in such conditions.

Energy Resources:

Right now, around 80% of the world’s energy need comes from fossil fuels—coal, oil, natural gas. About 20% of world electricity generation comes from renewable energy sources (solar, wind, hydroelectric, geothermal); solar and wind energy have had explosive increase rates recently.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) projects a 25% rise in global energy use by 2040, therefore underscoring the continuous dependence on energy supplies.

Mineral Resources:

With the World Bank projecting that minerals and metal extraction contributed roughly 3.7% of the global GDP in 2019, the mining sector makes a major contribution to the GDP worldwide.

Because they are so important for technologies like electric vehicles, renewable energy systems, and electronics, demand for crucial minerals, including rare earth elements, lithium, and cobalt, is growing.

Forests and biodiversity:

Although forests account for around 31% of the total area on Earth, rates of deforestation remain high—an estimated 10 million hectares of forest are lost annually.

With the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) noting that wildlife populations have dropped by 68% on average since 1970, the loss of biodiversity resulting from habitat degradation, pollution, climate change, and other causes is a major worry.

Food and Agriculture:

With almost 70% of world freshwater consumed in agriculture, food production’s water-intensive character is clear. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that 690 million people globally go hungry; food insecurity is compounded by elements including climate change, conflict, and financial difficulties.

These figures highlight the need of responsible use of natural resources, conservation, and sustainable management in order to solve global issues including food security, energy transition, water scarcity, and biodiversity loss.

IV. Classification of Natural Resources  

1. Based on Origin as

Biotic: Biological resources are found in the biosphere. organic and biological matter). Resources that can be gathered from plants and animals are two examples. They include fossil fuels like coal and petroleum because they contain decomposed organic material.

Abiotic: Inert, non-organic substances are referred to as abiotic materials. The earth, clean water, the environment, rare earth elements, and heavy metals, including the ore reserves of commodities like gold, iron, copper, silver, etc., are some examples.

2. Consistent with the Developing Stage of Natural Resources

Future-useable resources are those that have the potential to be utilized. For instance, petroleum in sedimentary rocks is still a prospective resource until it is extracted and used.

Resources that have been surveyed, evaluated, and qualified and are currently in use are called actual resources. For instance, consider the cost and technique of treating wood.

Reserve resources constitute a portion of a real resource that can be exploited later.

Stock resources are those that have been examined but cannot be used because of a lack of technology. Hydrogen is an example.

3. Considering the Recovery Rate

Resources that can be replenished naturally are referred to as renewable resources. Resources like wind, sunlight, air, and water are all readily available, yet human consumption virtually never reduces their availability.

As long as the rate of replenishment or recovery outpaces the rate of consumption, resources are considered to be renewable from a human use standpoint. Compared to non-renewable resources, they are simple to refill.

Resources that are not replenishable: Non-renewable resources are either absent from the environment or form slowly. The most prevalent resource in this group is minerals.

From a human perspective, nonrenewable resource consumption outpaces replenishment and recovery rates. For instance, the production of fossil fuels occurs at a very slow rate (potentially millions of years).

Without human intervention, some resources naturally decrease, such as the radioactive element uranium, which naturally breaks down into heavy metals. The ones that can be recycled from this list are metallic minerals.

Coal and petroleum, however, cannot be recycled. After these resources are exhausted, it takes millions of years for them to regenerate.

V. 21  Endangered natural resources that you need to know

1. Water

Despite the fact that most of the planet is made of water, just about 2.5% of it is freshwater. Even less than 2.5% of that is thought to be drinkable.

Potable water is water that has been approved for eating and for use in cooking.

The world’s freshwater resources are in peril, endangering the possibility of human survival.

The warning is being sent out by the UN. More than 1 billion people, or 18% of the world’s population, do not have access to a sufficient supply of water for consumption.

If we carry on with our current course of environmental destruction and consumption, the situation will quickly get worse. By 2025, 5.5 billion people, or two-thirds of the world’s population, may struggle to get clean water. By 2050, the percentage could reach 75% of humanity.

The amount of rain and winter ice melt has decreased due to climate change, which has decreased the accessible stocks of fresh water that must be treated.  This is true even though many countries are attempting to build water treatment facilities.

There are initiatives to educate the public and regulate water use worldwide, in addition to research into the technology of water farming in arid regions.

2. Air

Air is one of the most critical natural resources. It is essential for the survival of nature, including plants and animals. Eliminating air pollution is essential because it damages the ecology and can enter our bodies, where it can create health problems.

A few methods to preserve clean air and reduce air pollution include using the bus or train instead of driving your own car. Here, the causes and consequences of air pollution are covered in more detail.

3. Silicon 

The majority of silicon used in industry is not separated, and the natural minerals are frequently very lightly processed. Using clays, silica sand, and stone in industrial construction is one example of this utilization. 

To manufacture concrete for sidewalks, foundations, and roads, silicates are combined with silica sand and gravel in Portland cement, which is also used to make mortar and stucco.

Additionally, they are utilized in whiteware ceramics like porcelain, classic soda-lime glass with a silicate base, and a variety of specialized glasses. High-strength ceramics are made with silicon compounds like silicon carbide as abrasives. The extensively used synthetic polymers known as silicones are derived from silicon.

4. Oil

Crude oil and Black gold will run out one day. Although the precise date is still unknown, the International Energy Agency predicted that the peak in oil production would happen around 2035 in its annual report, Global Energy Outlook, 2010. Then, things will deteriorate further.

The rate at which events will unfold is still unknown. In other words, ultimately, it won’t be possible for the planet to thrive without oil, which might not be a bad idea.

The problem is that fossil fuels continue to be a major part of the global energy grid. The question is what will happen to the Earth’s crust when the fields are empty.

There are sizable empty voids beneath the Earth that have not been addressed, despite the fact that many in the oil industry are fighting for the right to frack and drill in protected areas in order to search for untapped oil reserves.

Despite the discovery of new oil sources and production methods, geologists estimate that there won’t be an endless supply of oil on Earth. There is no way to speed up the millions of years needed for oil to form.

5. Petrol

Despite having reserves that might last for 60 years, natural gas is just marginally more abundant than oil.

Although the usage of gas as an alternative fuel has expanded because it is a cleaner fuel source than oil, its supply life is still rather limited.

6. Foods

In order to feed the 9.1 billion people who will inhabit the planet by the year 2050, according to the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations), there must be a 70% increase in global food production. It’s a significant sum.

FAO asserts that this objective will be reachable. There are various problems, such as global warming, which harms agricultural production in many countries. According to projected figures from the FAO, one in every six people on earth, or about 1 billion people, is currently undernourished.

7. Rare Earths

There could be serious consequences if a group of 17 chemical components, all of which are metals, starts to dwindle. And the likelihood that it will is very high. Nearly all electrical gadgets use rare earths, and China provides 95% of the world’s supply, with Brazil providing the remaining 5%.

Scandium and Terbium, two of the earth’s most potent minerals, are used in electrical circuits found in both wind turbines and telephones.

On coastal plains, deposits of potassium carbonate and uncommon elements like cerium and neodymium can be found.

8. Coal

Coal is one of the most critical natural resources. Among all fossil fuels, coal reserves are dispersed over most nations. More than 100 countries currently have proven deposits in their soil.

The biggest economies are those of the United States, Australia, Russia, China, and India. Yet coal will eventually run out, just like all non-renewable resources.

According to the World Coal Association, there is even a set deadline for this situation: exactly 119 years from now, if consumption keeps up its current pace. The same issue applies to oil: fossil fuels still play a significant role in our energy system.

9. Copper

One of the metals most frequently used by man, copper, ushered in the Age of Metals. It can be found in jewelry, technological devices, electrical wires, and other things. Copper is recyclable, unlike other non-renewable resources.

Yet, its use has significantly increased recently and will eventually surpass demand to the point where the human ability to remove it from the soil would be insufficient.

According to calculations made by scientist Tom Graedel of Yale University in the United States and colleagues, this will occur in 2100. Then, what will happen? In actuality, no one is aware.

10. Natural Gas

Natural gas, which is used in businesses and automobiles, is more of a fossil fuel and will eventually run out.

BP Statistical World Review 2010 figures estimate that this will happen before coal, 45.7 years from now, despite a 2.1% decline in natural gas use in 2009 (2010 numbers have not yet been published).

It is crucial to keep in mind that the BP analysis only considers confirmed natural gas reserves with the potential for future use, which lessens but does not completely eliminate the problem.

11. Hafnium

Apart from the producers of super-resistant steel and nuclear fuel rods, which contain it in their composition, no one paid much attention to the hafnium metal until 2007.

In that same year, Intel declared it will begin utilizing the substance in the production of microprocessors. Since that time, people around the world have pondered the future of hafnium.

Even the question of how much hafnium is produced worldwide remains unanswered at the moment. In other words, man has created a need but is unsure of how to meet it.

12. Phosphorus 

All of our food and crops are grown using phosphorus, which is extracted from phosphate rock. Regrettably, only three countries on Earth—the US, China, and Morocco—have phosphate rock. The present known resources are expected to last for around 100 years.

There hasn’t been much research done on creating alternative, risk-free fertilizers that can effectively replace phosphorus.

13. Bauxite 

Bauxite occurs as rocks in soils with relatively little soluble matter in humid tropical climes. Because of this, Australia is the world’s leading bauxite producer.

The primary component in making aluminum metal is bauxite, from which the majority of the metal has been derived. Moreover, hydraulic fracturing, a method of oil and gas drilling, uses it.

14. Lithium 

Lithium has already caused an uproar in the battery world. A lithium-ion battery, often known as a Li-ion battery, is a type of rechargeable battery that stores energy by the reversible reduction of lithium ions.

Graphite, a type of carbon, is generally used as the negative electrode in a standard lithium-ion battery. Because it functions as an anode during discharge, this negative electrode is also referred to as the anode.

The positive electrode, which frequently consists of metal oxide and functions as a cathode during discharge, is also sometimes referred to as the cathode.

In comparison to anode and cathode, positive and negative electrodes remain positive and negative in normal operation, whether charging or discharging. Typically, a lithium salt in an organic solvent serves as the electrolyte.

It is the most common kind of battery used in electric vehicles and portable consumer gadgets. Additionally, grid-scale energy storage as well as military and aerospace applications make major use of it.

15. Helium 

Although balloons come to mind when we hear the word helium, they only account for a very small portion of the helium used in modern civilization.

It is necessary as a cooling medium for satellite equipment, superconducting magnets in MRI scanners, and NMR spectrometers, according to the Royal Society of Chemistry. It is also needed for the Large Hadron Collider (LHC).

Helium is utilized to generate a safe, inert atmosphere in the production of semiconductors and fiber optics since it is non-reactive. Also, it finds air conditioning system leakage. Since helium diffuses quickly and is non-toxic, it is used to inflate airbags in automobiles.

The second-most plentiful element in the solar system, helium, is regarded as a non-renewable resource. Most helium is formed in the Earth’s crust where coincidences of unusual events take place, making the gas uncommon.

Helium concentrations in air are less than 0.00052%, making its extraction economically unviable.

16. Iron

There is a dearth of iron as well. It is made of substances like silica, which must then be heated to produce the pig iron that is essential to industrialization. In ancient times, iron was one of the most valuable natural resources on Earth.

At the time, it made it possible to construct taller structures, better transportation, and stronger weaponry. Today’s industries continue to use both steel and iron.

17.  Different Minerals

Although it can be challenging to categorize minerals according to the exhaustibility concept, practically all rocks and minerals are non-renewable resources.

True, they are continually forming deep underground, but many of their species require centuries or even millions of years to form. Only a small percentage do it in tens or hundreds of years. For instance, fossilized coal deposits from 350 million years ago are currently known.

All fossils are classified into three categories: liquid (oil), solid (coal, marble), and gas (natural gas, methane).

Resources are separated by use into (1) metallic (iron ores, titanomagnetites); (2) non-metallic (sand, clay, asbestos, gypsum, graphite, salt); (3) combustible (shale, peat, gas); and (4) semi-precious and valuable stones; (diamonds, emeralds, jasper, alexandrite, spinel, jadeite, aquamarine, topaz, rock crystal).

The issue with fossil fuel use is that, as progress and technology advance, people are consuming more and more of them, which means that some benefits could be totally used up this century.

The principal minerals on our planet are depleted more quickly when human demand for one resource or another rises.

18.  Soil

Soil is another crucial natural resource. All of the soils that are found on our planet are collectively referred to as land resources. Many distinct particles make up soil and the nutrients in the soil support plant growth.

In addition, soil can be utilized to create shelter. When placed in a worm compost bin with some soil, a waste pile produces nutrient-rich soil that promotes the health and growth of plants.

They are essential to the existence of human civilization and constitute a component of the lithosphere. The issue with soil resource usage is that it is difficult for the average person to notice how quickly land is being consumed through depletion, cultivation, desertification, and restoration.

Soil only grows about 2 millimeters annually. It’s important to use land which is one of the natural resources, wisely and implement restoration strategies to prevent their total consumption.

Non-renewable resources are therefore the most valuable resource on Earth, yet mankind is unable to manage them effectively.

As a result, we will leave behind very few natural resources for future generations, and some minerals, particularly oil and natural gas, as well as some precious metals, are already nearly depleted.

19.  Salt

A mineral called salt, or sodium chloride, is necessary for both human and animal life.

The four techniques listed below are frequently used to mine soil:

Underground rock salt mining.

Solvent-injection mining dissolves underground salt and recovers it through solar evaporation, allowing seawater from solar ponds to evaporate. The same method used for inland seawater evaporation, inland solar evaporation.

20. Forests and Timber

As the world develops and the population rises, there is a larger need for housing and construction projects. Less open green spaces are created as a result. Forests are essential to the world’s ecology, which supports all life and its natural resources.

Forests are necessary for producing clean air and the lumber used to build buildings, as well as being necessary for providing habitat for a number of animal species.

Forestry is a segment of the economy that is renewable as long as we properly manage this resource. The forestry sector is huge in many countries throughout the world, such as Canada, which is largely dependent on the forestry sector.

In addition to the aforementioned natural resources, there are also clays, sand, copper, manganese, stone, rivers, lakes, mountains, farmland, wetlands, and coastal shorelines.

21. Use of Oxygen 

Since there is currently enough oxygen in the air, oxygen consumption does not yet pose a global threat. As part of the photosynthesis process, plants release this gas into the atmosphere.

Scientists estimate that humans use about 10% of the world’s oxygen. If we stop deforestation and increase green spaces, future generations won’t need more oxygen than we do.

VI. Conclusion

In order to sustain life and meet human needs, natural resources are necessary. The several elements and constituents of our world are air, water, soil, stone, sand, coal, oil, and metals.

Every one of them is necessary to keep human existence going. Beyond simple materials, natural resources include the plants, animals, fish, and birds that provide our food supplies. To be protected for future generations, natural resources need to be managed and treated with responsibility.

The health of present and future generations can be guaranteed and environmental balance maintained by taking into account and safeguarding our natural resources.

The need for natural resources is ultimately what allows us to make sensible choices, promote environmental conservation, and strive for an environmentally responsible generation.

By leveraging technology, promoting conservation, and implementing responsible policies, we can ensure that these vital resources continue to support human progress and well-being for future generations. The statistics highlight the urgency of these efforts and the need for a global commitment to sustainability.

FAQs

What are natural resources, and why are they important?

Natural resources are minerals or compounds found in the surroundings that are important for the survival and operation of living entities. Among these things are air, water, minerals, plants, and animals.

They are absolutely vital since they supply the raw components required for several human activities, including infrastructure development, manufacturing, energy generation, and agriculture. Human civilization as we know it would not be sustained without natural resources.

How do natural resources impact economic development?

Natural resources are very important for economic growth since they support businesses, provide jobs, and increase trade and investment, thereby powering industries.

Natural resource-rich nations usually have strong economies since their capacity to extract and use their resources for financial benefit drives their development.

To guarantee long-term economic development without sacrificing environmental integrity, however, sustainable management of natural resources is absolutely vital.

What are examples of renewable natural resources?

Renewable natural resources are those that, given a suitable period of time, can be naturally rebuilt or replenished. Examples include solar, wind, hydropower, biomass, forests, and fisheries. Maintaining ecological balance and endorsing sustainable development methods depend on these resources.

What are examples of non-renewable natural resources?

Once depleted, non-renewable natural resources cannot be readily replaced. Among the examples are nuclear energy sources, minerals (gold, silver, and copper), and fossil fuels—coal, oil, and natural gas.

Non-renewable resource exploitation and consumption have major environmental effects and provide problems for the availability of resources for future generations.

How can we conserve natural resources for future generations?

Adopting sustainable practices like trash reduction, recycling promotion, renewable energy source use, ecosystem protection, and effective resource management policies constitutes conservation of natural resources.

Conserving natural resources for the benefit of future generations also depends critically on education, awareness-raising, and technology developments.

What role do natural resources play in environmental sustainability?

Natural resources support biodiversity, control climate patterns, preserve soil fertility, and offer necessary ecosystem services, therefore supporting environmental sustainability.

Reducing environmental damage, protecting habitats, and guaranteeing a healthy planet for present and future generations depend on sustainable use and protection of natural resources.

How are natural resources managed on a global scale?

Globally, natural resource management entails international collaboration, treaties, agreements, and legislative frameworks meant to handle cross-border resource concerns, including climate change, water shortages, deforestation, and biodiversity loss.

Coordinating initiatives to sustainably manage natural resources depends heavily on groups such as the United Nations and environmental NGOs.

What are the challenges associated with extracting natural resources?

Extraction of natural resources presents environmental damage, habitat destruction, pollution, depletion of non-renewable resources, land conflicts, social upheaval, and detrimental effects on indigenous people.

A difficult chore requiring careful planning and management is balancing resource exploitation with environmental preservation and social equality.complex task that requires careful planning and management.

How do natural resources contribute to cultural and societal development?

Natural resources impact customs, livelihoods, cultural practices, and communal identities, thereby having cultural and socioeconomic relevance.

For food, medication, art, handicap, and spiritual ceremonies, they offer basic supplies for each. Good use of natural resources can help preserve cultural legacies and strengthen communities.

What are the latest innovations in natural resource utilization and conservation?

Recent developments in natural resource use and conservation comprise developments in renewable energy technologies (solar, wind, and tidal), sustainable agriculture practices (precision farming, organic farming), waste management techniques (recycling, waste-to-energy), conservation biology (ecosystem restoration, species conservation), and green infrastructure development (green buildings, urban forests). These developments point toward a more ecologically friendly method of using resources.

 

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Sunil Kirloskar
Sunil Kirloskar

Hi, I am Dr. Sunil. My present blog greenappleplanet.com mainly focuses on various aspects of environment, green living, green technology, solutions to various areas towards preservation of the planet-our mother earth. Blog articles revolve around environment protection at its core. I am sure the young environmentalists will be inspired through these articles. This bog is dedicated to those working for achieving sustainable enviroment and living.

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9 Comments

  1. Very nice information. Many more interesting blogs awaited. In india , situation may be pathetic due to no control on poppulation and pollution. Strategic focus and serious implementation of remedies on war footing to be done to save nature nationally as well as globaly.

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