Concept: Meaning of Natural Resources
What are natural resources?
Natural resources are things that are found in nature and are used by people.
Examples: Water, forest, minerals, plants, animals, etc.
Types of natural resources:
Natural resources can be classified based on the following categories—
1. Based on their origin:
- Biotic natural resources comprise all the living organisms including plants, animals and birds.
- Abiotic natural resources are those that are not obtained from any living organism. Examples: Soil, wind, water, sunlight, clouds, metals, air, etc.
Examples: Forests, animals, fish, etc.
2. Based on how fast these can be recovered/replenished after use:
- Natural resources that can be easily replenished (i.e., restored to the previous conditions) are called renewable resources.
- Non-renewable resources are those that cannot be easily replenished.
Examples:Solar power, wind energy, geothermal energy, etc.
Examples: Coal, petrol, diesel, natural gas, etc.
Importance of natural resources:
- All natural resources are very essential to us. Some of these are also useful to the animals and plants.
- We eat foods that are obtained from plants and animals, the clothes we wear are made of natural fibres, and we build houses using rocks, bricks, cement, sand, water, glass, metals and many other things.
- We use wood and different metals for making furniture, utensils, cars, machines, boats, etc.
- Wind, water, solar power and fossil fuels are used to generate electricity, heat and light.
- Our electronic devices contain different valuable metals like copper, aluminium and silver.
- Some animals are useful for laborious work like cows, horses, donkeys, etc.
- We get fossil fuels from animals and plants that died millions of years ago and got buried under the layers of soil and water.
Extraction of resources:
- Some resources are not readily available and need to be taken out by special extraction methods.
- Cutting the trees, digging the mines to take out valuable metals, precious stones (diamonds), hunting the animals, etc., are examples of extractions of resources.
- Crude oil is extracted from the depths of the earth and is refined before use. It gives different products like petrol, diesel, wax, oil, etc.
- Making hydroelectricity from the flowing water using the turbines is also the extraction of a resource.
Conservation of natural resources:
- Non-renewable resources are needed to be conserved as they take a very long time to replenish.
- Renewable resources need some time to replenish.
- Overuse of natural resources hampers the replenishment of these resources.
- The following things should be practised if we still want to enjoy the natural resources in the coming years—
- Minimise cutting down the trees.
- Using the non-renewable natural resources properly.
- Finding methods to use renewable natural resources more.
Geothermal energy: The energy obtained from the heat trapped inside the earth.
Fossil fuels: Fuels obtained from fossils (dead remains of plants and animals that lived years ago) that include coal, petroleum and natural gas.
Hydroelectricity: Electricity generated by using the flow of water by constructing dams.
Did You Know?
- The first hydroelectric power plant in India was established in 1897 at the foothills of Sidrapong, West Bengal.
- Scientists estimated that within this century, we would be out of fossil fuels! Oil: 51 to 53 years, Natural gas: 53 to 54 years and Coal: 110 to 114 years.