Natural resources (economically referred to as land or raw materials) are naturally forming substances that are considered valuable in their relatively unmodified (natural) form. A natural resource's value rests in the amount and extractability of the material available and the demand for it. The latter is determined by its usefulness to production. A commodity is generally considered a natural resource when the primary activities associated with it are extraction and purification, as opposed to creation. Thus, mining, petroleum extraction, fishing, hunting, and forestry are generally considered natural-resource industries, while agriculture is not. The term was introduced to a broad audience by E. F. Schumacher in his 1973 book Small is Beautiful. The term is defined by the United States Geological Survey as "The Nation's natural resources include its minerals, energy, land, water, and biota." | |
Classification of natural forms
Natural resources are mostly classified into renewable and non-renewable resources. Sometimes resources are classified as non-renewable even if they are technically renewable, just not easily renewed within a reasonable amount of time, such as fossil fuels. Non-renewable resources
Main article: Non-renewable resource
Some non-renewable resources can be renewable but take an extremely long time to renew. Fossil fuels, for example, take millions of years to form and so are not practically considered 'renewable'. Different non-renewable resources like oil, coal, natural gas etc. have different levels of demand from different sectors like transportation and residences with each resource specializing for each sector. Many environmentalists propose a tax on consumption of non renewable resources. Non-renewable resources cannot be replaced or can only be replaced over thousands or millions of years. Natural capital
Natural resources are natural capital converted to commodity inputs to infrastructural capital processes. They include soil, timber, oil, minerals, and other goods harvested from the Earth. Both extraction of the basic resource and refining it into a purer, directly usable form, (e.g., metals, refined oils) are generally considered natural-resource activities, even though the latter may not necessarily occur near the former. This process generates high profits due to the high demand for the natural resources and the energies that they are able to generate. A nation's natural resources often determine its wealth in the world economic system and its diplomatic, military, and political influence. Developed nations are those which are less dependent on natural resources for wealth, due to their greater reliance on infrastructural capital for production. However, some see a resource curse whereby easily obtainable natural resources could actually hurt the prospects of a national economy by fostering political corruption. Political corruption can negatively impact the national economy because time is spent giving bribes or other economically unproductive acts instead of the generation of generative economic activity. This has been seen over the years with legislation passed to appease companies who will benefit. There also tends to be concentrations of ownership over specific plots of land that have proven to yield natural resources. In recent years, the depletion of natural capital and attempts to move to sustainable development have been a major focus of development agencies. This is of particular concern in rainforest regions, which hold most of the Earth's natural biodiversity - irreplaceable genetic natural capital. Conservation of natural resources is the major focus of natural capitalism, environmentalism, the ecology movement, and green politics. Some view this depletion as a major source of social unrest and conflicts in developing nations.
Types of resources
Natural resources are derived from the environment. Many of them...