Resources is a very broad term, it is basically anything that can be considered a valuable addition. Anything from air to gold is all resources. Let us take a look at the two broad types of resources – natural resources and man-made resources.
Resources are anything that has utility and adds value to your life. Air, water, food, plants, animals, minerals, metals, and everything else that exists in nature and has utility to mankind is a ‘Resource’. The value of each such resource depends on its utility and other factors. For example, metals are gold, silver, copper or bronze have economic value; i.e. they can be exchanged for money. However, mountains, rivers, sea or forests are also resources but they do not have economic value.
There are two most important factors that can turn any substance into a resource- time and technology. With the help of technology, innovation humans can transform a natural or man-made substance into a resource. Like, minerals, fish or other marine creatures sourced from the sea can be used for our food and medicines. Similarly, time also adds to the value of a resource. For example, fossil deposits of organisms over hundreds of years can turn into fossil fuels.
Anything and everything that is available naturally on earth is a natural resource. We can further divide them into:
Biotic & Abiotic
Any life form that lives within nature is a Biotic Resource, like humans, animals, plants, etc. In contrast, an abiotic resource is that which is available in nature but has no life; like metals, rocks, and stones. Both biotic and abiotic resources can be renewable or non-renewable.
Renewable & Non-renewable
Renewable resources are almost all elements of nature which can renew themselves. For e.g. sunlight, wind, water, forests and likewise. While, non-renewable resources, are limited in their quantity. Like fossil fuels and minerals. Though these resources take millions of years to form, they would eventually get over within our lifetime if we use continuously.
Learn more about Minerals and Energy Resources.
Potential, Developed, and Stock Resources
Natural elements which are already easily available but humans are yet to discover their real power are Potential resources. For example, solar and wind energy are two natural resources, which have a high potential for human life. Though we are using it, we can use these even more in the future once we understand their true potential.
In contrast, a developed resource is that which humans have discovered and developed over a long time. Most of the water, fossil fuel, minerals, plants and animals that we use for our need today, are developed resources.
There are some resources present in nature, which have enough potential, but we do not have adequate knowledge or technology to develop it. As a result, these remain in nature as stock resources. For example, Hydrogen and Oxygen gases can be used as rich sources of energy but we still do not know how.
Learn more about Forest and Wildlife Resources in detail here.
When humans use natural things to make something new that provides utility and value to our lives, it is called human-made resources. For instance, when we use metals, wood, cement, sand, and solar energy to make buildings, machinery, vehicles, bridges, roads, etc. they become man-made resources. Likewise, technology is also a man-made resource. Man-made resources are mostly renewable. One can re-build a building or fixed a broken machine.
And, because humans have the skills, intelligence, and knowledge, and use technology to transform a natural resource into usable and valuable things, they themselves become a resource. That is what we know as Human Resource.
All human-made resources are dependent on the availability of the natural resource/s. We need to understand the value of each natural element and then need to conserve those resource/s. Because we should be able to use them throughout our lifetime and also save them for our future generations.
For example, if we do not start saving water, very soon, human society will start facing severe scarcity of water. Likewise, if we cut down all forests, eventually, there would be no wood left for us to build homes or make fire. It will also increase the level of carbon dioxide. As a result, it will only harm human life. In other words, conservation of resources is necessary for the betterment of human life.
By carefully utilizing each natural resource and allowing it to renew itself within nature, we can help in resource conservation. We must also focus on sustainable development- a way of optimally using and balancing the use of each resource. And, by doing so, we can all contribute to a healthy and resourceful planet.
Q1. What is sustainable development?
Ans. Sustainable economic development refers to ‘development of resource/s without causing any harm to the environment. And, such development should not compromise with the needs of future generations.
Q2. How can you divide resources?
Ans. A resource can be – Natural and Human-made. Also, natural resources can be –
- Biotic and Abiotic
- Renewable and Non-renewable
- Potential, developed and stock