Last edited 10 Apr 2019

Natural resource


Natural resources are those sources and materials provided by nature that can either be enjoyed by, or used for, the benefit of people, but which exist independent of people. Some may be destroyed or depleted by poeple's injudicious actions.

[edit] Types of natural resource

  • Earth forces (wind, magnetic, kinetic, gravitational, electrical etc)
  • Solar radiation (for sustaining life, growing crops, solar and thermal power)
  • Climate (for agriculture, sustaining life, etc)
  • Water (seas, rivers, lakes, waterfalls, glaciers, and other watercourses etc) for sustaining life
  • Air (and its constituent gases) for sustaining life
  • Geothermal energy (source of heat)
  • Metals and minerals (e.g, iron, copper, diamond, petroleum etc)
  • Wildlife (marine- and terrestrial-based life)
  • Forests and other vegetation (enjoyment, source of food, timber etc)
  • Areas of natural beauty (mountains, moorlands, savannah, tundra and other types of land).
  • People (labour and populations).

Some of the above-listed resources can be used or processed to make other products; this has occurred since humans first appeared on the planet, particularly to create shelter or other goods that facilitate human existence.

Every human-made item is made from natural resources: clay is made into bricks, iron and carbon are combined to form steel, sand (silica) is used to make glass and so on.

[edit] Classifying natural resources

  • Biotic – comprise living/organic material, e.g animals, forests, coal, petroleum.
  • Abiotic – comprise non-living and non-organic, e.g water, land, metals, minerals.
  • Actual resources – known to exist, have been quantified and are being used e.g forests.
  • Reserve resources – can be developed profitably for future use (form part of actual resources).
  • Potential resources – potential for future use, e.g petroleum that is still in the ground.
  • Stock resources – known to exist but cannot be developed until the advent of new technology e.g hydrogen.
  • Renewable resources – continuously available and can be replenished with the action of technology, e.g wind and solar power.
  • Non-renewable resources – cannot be renewed easily as their formation occurred over geological time and the rate of consumption vastly exceeds their formation rate – which in some cases will be millions of years. Typical examples include petroleum, metals and coal.

Earth Overshoot Day (sometimes referred to as Ecological Debt Day) is the day of the year that human demand on the planet exceeds that which it can regenerate for that year. It means humanity has consumed all the natural resources available for the year. For the rest of the year demand is met by depleting nature and accumulating waste such as carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and oceans, pushing the essential ecosystems of the planet closer to collapse. For more information see: Earth Overshoot Day.

[edit] Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki