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What are Natural Resources? Definition, Types, Impacts, Examples

Last Updated : 15 Jun, 2022
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A natural resource can be defined as anything that exists on this planet without human intervention. These are the materials from the Earth that are used by people in order to sustain life and meet their needs. They play an essential role in the working of any man-made product. Examples:- Fossil fuels, Air, Water, etc.,

 Utilization – Natural Resources 

  1. Natural resources are drawn out from the environment and processed or mass-produced to create the products and services we consume and produce.
  2. Metals and minerals such as steel for buildings, aluminum(Al) for cars, copper(Cu) for electrical products, and some other rare-earth minerals are used to make electronics such as mobiles, laptops, and Television.
  3. Our food and drinks, as well as the clothing we wear, are produced with the help of natural resources.
  4. Additionally, the products and services we produce and consume are supported by fossil fuels, such as coal, oil, and gas, which power machinery, factories, processing plants, transportation, and many other activities.  
  5. Natural resources are essential to building and powering infrastructure, technology, and energy, even in industries like finance, education, healthcare, and telecommunications that do not produce physical products

Materials are being extracted at a rapid rate that outpaces both population and economic growth, which means we use more materials but are less effective at the global level.

Types of Natural Resources

Types of natural resources depend on their availability, there are 2 types- Renewable  and  Non-renewable

  • Renewable resources: Renewable resources are those that can be reused again and again abundantly and are available in infinite quantities. They exhibit sustainability which is meant to be used by future generations too. They are environmentally safe.
    Examples: Forests, Air, Solar, Geothermal, Biomass.
  • Non-renewable resources: Resources that are non-renewable and may run out in the future because of their limited availability are called non-renewable resources. They are high cost which pollutes nature i.e., non-eco-friendly 
    Examples: coal, Natural gas, petroleum, nuclear energy, and groundwater.

Impacts of the Use of Natural Resources

Environmental and socio-economic impacts are the main problems caused by the unsustainable use of natural resources.

Environmental impacts 

During the whole life of a product or unsustainable services, usage and production practices exhaust natural resources causing environmental concerns due to extraction, processing, production, consumption, and garbage disposal.

Climate change, diversity loss, and pollution are 3 hitting planetary crises caused by unsustainable consumption and production.

Biodiversity Loss

  1. Due to the ever-increasing amount of land needed for production and consumption, such as for agriculture, extraction of raw materials, forestry, or buildings and infrastructure, the natural vegetation and trees are being cleared. In addition, it harms animal and insect life by harming their habitats, as well as the biodiversity of the plants.
     
  2. Biodiversity loss is having destructive consequences and is already frightening the availability of vital food, water, and air systems on which all living things on Earth depend.
Biodiversity Loss

 

Climate change

A major environmental effect of unsustainable production and consumption leads to climate change. A large amount of energy is used for mining and industrial farming, factories, and machinery for processing and mass production of products like trucks, ships, and planes for transporting products. As well as powering the necessary disposal and treatment of waste leftover from production and consumption, which primarily results from burning fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and gas for fuel. 

In addition, climate change is also caused by the extraction and mass production of certain materials such as steel, which produces harmful greenhouse gases(GHGs) during the chemical processes. Excess use of nitrogen-containing fertilizers, raising livestock that emits methane and clearing the land for farming and livestock grazing. The production of food and agriculture is also a major source of greenhouse gases. This reduces the amount of carbon that can be captured and stored by trees and vegetation and increases the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere.

Pollution

  1. By unsustainable usage, pollution is also causing great damage to the planet’s life-sustaining systems, food, water, and air, which in turn harm human health and the health of the planet.
  2. By consuming and producing in an unsustainable manner, environmental impacts may occur that have a rebound effect that further reduces natural resource quality and quantity.
Pollution

 

The unsustainable use of fertilizers in farming may reduce soil fertility and the water supply required for farming. As far as fisheries are concerned, the over usage of chemicals and synthetics in water leads to groundwater pollution.

Socio-economic Impacts

  1. Especially for the more than one billion farmers globally, environmental harm and loss of natural resources can threaten livelihoods, resulting in food and economic insecurity as well as nutritional problems
  2. Along with nutrition, pollution in land, air, and water is also a major health problem, especially in poor countries.
  3. Conflict and war can also be caused by the loss of natural resources and livelihoods that depend upon them, which can jeopardize human rights, exacerbate environmental damage, destroy livelihoods, and harm human health.

Conceptual Questions 

Question 1: What are the impacts of over usage of Natural resources?

Answer:

Environment and Socio-economic impacts are the caused by over consumption of Natural resources.

Question 2: What are Green House Gases emitted by the over-exploitation of Natural resources?

Answer:

Carbon dioxide (CO2), Methane (CH4), and Nitrous oxide.

Question 3: What is meant by sustainable use of Resources?

Answer:

The management of resources in a way and at a rate that doesn’t damage the environment over time, on the other hand, ensures future generations are able to meet their needs and aspiration.

Question 4: What are Mineral resources?

Answer:

The definition of a Mineral Resource is an accumulation or accumulation of solid materials of economic interest within the Earth’s crust, in forms, grades, and quantities that present reasonable prospects for economic extraction.

Question 5: What are the reasons for the over-exploitation of forests?

Answer: 

For the requirement of fuel, Overgrazing, Forest fires, For Area developing projects.


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