A natural resource is anything that people can use which comes from nature. People do not make natural resources, but gather them from the earth. Examples of natural resources are air, water, wood, oil, wind energy, iron, and coal. Refined oil and hydro-electric energy are not natural resources because people make them.
We often say there are two sorts of natural resources: renewable resources and non-renewable resources.
- A renewable resource is one which can be used again and again. For example, soil, sunlight and water are renewable resources. However, in some circumstances, even water is not renewable easily. Wood is a renewable resource, but it takes time to renew and in some places people use the land for something else. Soil, if it blows away, is not easy to renew.
- A non-renewable resource is a resource that does not grow and come back, or a resource that would take a very long time to come back. For example, coal is a non-renewable resource. When we use coal, there is less coal afterward. One day, there will be no more of it to make goods. The non-renewable resource can be used directly (for example, burning oil to cook), or we can find a renewable resource to use (for example, using wind energy to make electricity to cook).
Most natural resources are limited. This means they will eventually run out. A perpetual resource has a never-ending supply. Some examples of perpetual resources include solar energy, tidal energy, and wind energy.
Some of the things influencing supply of resources include whether it is able to be recycled, and the availability of suitable substitutes for the material. Non-renewable resources cannot be recycled. For example, oil, minerals, and other non-renewable resources cannot be recycled.
The demand for resources can change with new technology, new needs, and new economics (e.g. changes in cost of the resources). Some material can go completely out of use, if people do not want it any more. Demand of many natural resources is very high, but availability of some, such as precious metals, is very low.
All places have their own natural resources. When people do not have a certain resource they need, they can either replace it with another resource, or trade with another country to get the resource. People have sometimes fought to have them (for example, spices, water, arable land, gold, or petroleum).
When people do not have some natural resources, their quality of life can get lower. So, we need to protect our resources from pollution. For example, when they can not get clean water, people may become ill; if there is not enough wood, trees will be cut and the forest will disappear over time (deforestation); if there are not enough fish in a sea, people can die of starvation. Renewable resources include crops, wind, hydroelectric power, fish, and sunlight. Many people carefully save their natural resources so others can use them in future.
The rainforest in Fatu-Hiva, in the Marquesas Islands, is an example of an undisturbed natural resource. Forest provides timber for humans, food and shelter for the flora and fauna. The nutrient cycle between organisms form food chains and biodiversity of species.
The ocean is an example of a natural resource. Ocean waves can be used to generate wave power which is a renewable energy. Ocean water is important for salt production, desalination, and providing habitat for deep water fishes. There are biodiversity of marine species in the sea where nutrient cycles are common.
Natural resource Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.