Natural resources are materials provided by the Earth that humans can use to make more complex (human-made) products.
In this lesson, you will learn some examples of natural resources and how to classify them.
Natural resources are useful raw materials that we get from the Earth. They occur naturally, which means that humans cannot make natural resources.
Instead, we use and modify natural resources in ways that are beneficial to us. The materials used in human-made objects are natural resources. Some examples of natural resources and the ways we can use them are:
|Natural Resource||Products or Services|
|Air||Wind energy, tires|
|Animals||Foods (milk, cheese, steak, bacon) and clothing (wool sweaters, silk shirts, leather belts)|
|Minerals||Coins, wire, steel, aluminum cans, jewelry|
|Natural gas||Electricity, heating|
|Oil||Electricity, fuel for cars and airplanes, plastic|
|Plants||Wood, paper, cotton clothing, fruits, vegetables|
|Sunlight||Solar power, photosynthesis|
|Water||Hydroelectric energy, drinking, cleaning|
Biotic and Abiotic Natural Resources
There are several ways to classify natural resources, including where they come from and if they are renewable or not. If natural resources come from living things or organic materials, then they are considered biotic resources. Biotic resources include plants, animals, and fossil fuels. The three fossil fuels are coal, oil, and natural gas. Fossil fuels are classified as biotic resources because they were formed from the decay of organic matter over millions of years.
On the other hand, abiotic resources originate from nonliving and inorganic materials. For example, air, sunlight, and water are abiotic natural resources. Minerals (gold, copper, iron, diamonds) are also considered abiotic.
Renewable and Nonrenewable Resources
Renewable resources are those that can be replenished during our lifetime, such as sunlight, wind, water, plants, and animals. The rate at which renewable resources are replenished may differ.
For example, we will never run out of sun and wind in our lifetime because the Earth constantly supplies these resources.In contrast, fresh water, trees, or fish could become in short supply or even be depleted due to overuse. This is because these renewable resources are replenished more slowly. Imagine if an entire forest is cut down. It can be renewed if seeds are planted, but it will take many years before those trees are large enough to be useful.Fossil fuels and minerals are nonrenewable resources, which means that the Earth is not replenishing them quickly or at all.
For example, fossil fuels take millions of years to form. So if we use them all up, we will not have any more during our lifetime.
Natural resources are made by the Earth only, and they are useful to humans in many ways. They can be biotic, such as plants, animals, and fossil fuels; or they can be abiotic, meaning they originate from nonliving and inorganic materials.
They can also be renewable, meaning that they can be replenished during our lifetime, such as sunshine, plants and wind; or they can be nonrenewable, meaning that the Earth is not replenishing them quickly or at all.
After this video lesson, you should be able to:
- Define natural resources
- Differentiate between biotic and abiotic and between renewable and nonrenewable natural resources
- Identify an example of each type of natural resource