What are Natural Resources?
Resources that are already present in nature are called natural resources. We use these resources to support lives and fulfill our needs.
Natural Resources Definition: Natural resources are materials that are found in nature or created by nature. Some examples of natural resources are coal, natural gas, minerals, water, wind, air, solar energy, soil, forest, wildlife etc.
If we look at the broad classification for types of resources, then they are Natural Resources and Man-made resources like artificial lakes, schools, hospitals etc.
Types of Natural Resources
Let’s learn about different types of natural resources:
1. Renewable Resources: Resources that can never run out or can replenish through natural processes after a finite interval of time are said to be renewable resources. Eg. forest, wind, water and solar energy. Renewable resources can replenish themselves at the same rate at which they are used however the rate of consumption of renewable resources must also be managed to avoid the depletion of the renewable resources.
2. Non-Renewable Resources: These are finite resources or we can say that they are exhaustible resources, once they are exhausted, it will take them millions of years to form. Eg. Minerals, fossil fuels etc.
Let us now learn about the major difference between renewable resources and non-renewable resources:
Natural Resources Examples: Air, Soil & Water
Let us explore about top 3 natural resources which are water, soil and air.
Let us now try to study the importance of natural resources:
1. Air: The Supplier of Energy
Let us first understand the composition of air in the atmosphere. The air is made up of 78% of nitrogen, 21% of oxygen and the rest is made up of other gases such as methane, neon, argon, helium, hydrogen etc. Air is present all around you, you can’t see it but certainly feel it. Air is essential for life on earth. It is a renewable resource and a supplier of energy.
Importance of air as a natural resource: Life is possible on earth due to this breathable air.
1. The temperature of the earth is regulated by air.
2. Different weather patterns are caused by air.
3. The continuous movement of wind gives us monsoon or rain which is very essential for our survival.
4. The process of photosynthesis is impossible without air. All plants and animals would be dead without oxygen.
5. We can hear each other due to air. It provides the medium for sound to travel.
6. Air helps in balancing the humidity, creation of pressure and reduction in friction.
7. Air allows reproduction in plants via pollination.
8. Electricity is generated using air as an important medium of energy.
Increased pollution is posing a threat to clean air. Smog, smoke, pollution from chemical factories, nuclear power plants, all these contribute to air pollution. The air that we breathe today is full of dangerous pollutants which can cause very serious illnesses. There is a need to curb air pollution and switch to environment friendly products.
2. Water: The Precious Resource
Do you know why our planet earth is also known as the Blue Planet? It is because of the vast oceans that our planet is made up of! Water is present on earth in the form of lakes, rivers, seas, oceans and glaciers. It is also present in the atmosphere in the form of water vapor.
97% of earth’s surface is covered with water out of which, only 3% is available in the form of freshwater. Also, two-thirds of this freshwater is locked up in glaciers and ice-caps and the rest is available for us in the form of drinking water. Water is vital for our survival which makes it one of the most precious resources on earth.
Do you know what is potable water? Clean and safe drinking water is called potable water
Importance of water as a natural resource:
1. Water is used for cooking food, bathing, washing clothes, vegetables, fruits, utensils, flushing toilets and keeping the houses clean. Nearly all the domestic and cleaning work requires water.
2. Water is essential for sustaining life on earth. Every living being needs water to survive. Human body requires water for proper functioning.
3. Water is used for industrial and agricultural purposes such as irrigation, cooling equipments, processing products
4. Marine life is dependent on water for survival. Without water the aquatic animals, all plants, animals and vegetation will perish.
5. Electricity is generated using running water.
Due to the increase in population and consumption of water, the demand for freshwater has increased rapidly. Besides, the level of groundwater is also decreasing. Clean and safe drinking water is also a challenge in some countries. Water is becoming a scarce resource which is why it is important for us to carefully avoid the wastage of water and conserve water. We need to look for effective ways to save water such as fixing leaky taps, bathing using a bucket instead of showering, closing the tap while brushing the teeth are some of the most common ways to save water at home.
3. Soil : The Surface of the Land, The Skin of the Earth
Soil is made up of all the crucial elements which are necessary for survival such as zinc, iron, nitrogen compounds etc. The soil is also a home to billions of microorganisms. Soil is a mixture of essential components such as minerals (45%), water (25%), air (25%) and organic matter (billions of organisms) or humus (5%). Food, fiber and fuel all derives from soil itself!
Formation of soil: Massive rocks undergo different geological, chemical and biological processes and get crushed in smaller particles to form soil. It takes thousands of years to form soil. Consisting of organic and inorganic matter, the soil is basically a product of weathering and a fundamental ecosystem crucial for the survival of life on earth.
Importance of soil as a natural resource:
1. Soil holds and absorbs water along with supporting plant roots and providing them structural support. Soil stores essential nutrients which is further used up by plants and agricultural production.
2. Soil acts as a living natural filter. It filters out dirt, dust, and chemicals from the water which purifies the water and maintains the groundwater quality. Soil is the main resource for raw materials and survival on earth.
3. It provides us with important construction and manufacturing material which we use to create huge infrastructures like dams or buildings.
4. Soil can also prevent the impact of a flood by holding a large amount of water.
5. Soil plays a major role in regulating the earth’s temperature by absorbing gases such as carbon dioxide, water vapor and methane etc.
6. Soil aids in the cultivation of crops and forests.
7. Different artifacts ranging from the fossils of dinosaurs to thousand year old civilizations, the soil contains all of earth’s history.
Do you know that soil is an exhaustible resource? The use of large amounts of fertilizers and pesticides is affecting the quality and fertility of the soil. We are also losing the most fertile layer of soil. The degradation of soil is affecting the production of good crops and biodiversity. Large-scale deforestation is leading to soil erosion.