The importance of natural resources for our way of life cannot be overstated. Natural resources are materials or substances produced by the environment without any interference from humans. They can include sunlight, atmosphere, water, land (including minerals), vegetables (including trees), and animals.
From many of these natural resources, we can create man-made materials that can then be used. For example, trees can be turned into paper, furniture, or fuel. Oil or petroleum can be used to make fuels or plastic. Cows can be used to get meat, dairy products, or leather. Of course, many natural resources such as water and sunlight can be used in their original state, and do not need to be manufactured for them to be useful.
Natural resources can be renewable, which means that they can be replenished naturally or they form too slowly to meet the amount that we use. For example, sunlight, wind, and water are all renewable natural resources.
They can also be non-renewable, which means that they cannot be replenished naturally. For example, fossil fuels take millions of years to form, which is far too slow to replenish the fossil fuels that we use.
Importance of natural resources for everyday life
You may not be conscious of just how many natural resources you use in day-to-day life. They are central to our ability to live and thrive and all of us consume natural resources on a daily basis, either directly or indirectly.
Globally, 60 billion tons of natural resources are used every year to provide us with the products and services that we use, and the average American uses about 90 kg of natural resources per day.
The majority of daily natural resources use is due to three areas:
- Food and drink, including agricultural products as well as naturally occurring foods, water, and resources used to make eating implements and food packaging.
- Mobility – this includes the resources used to make vehicles such as automobiles and planes, as well as the natural resources used to make the fuel to power them.
- Housing and infrastructure – this includes the natural resources to build houses, roads, stop signs, etc. It also includes the natural resources used to make the energy to heat and power these structures.
Because of our heavy reliance on natural resources, it has become more important than ever to make sure that the resources we use are sustainable and renewable.
Natural resources and eco-energy
Eco energy is becoming more and more important as our sources of non-renewable energy sources get depleted and the effects of fossil fuels on the climate are becoming greater. Eco energy companies focus on creating energy solutions that work in partnership with the planet and the environment and that don’t cause the damage that other energy sources do.
There will be a point in the future where we will need to move entirely to renewable energy sources. Some countries such as Iceland and Paraguay, with many other countries, are using renewable power. Renewable energy sources rely on renewable natural resources such as wind, water, and solar energy.
Importance of natural resources in the economy
Now let’s discuss the importance of natural resources in growing economies.
Natural resources and wealth
There is wealth in natural resources. In fact, natural resources make up the majority of most countries’ wealth. Countries that are abundant in natural resources, especially non-renewable natural resources, are still seeing the value of those resources rise as developing countries are starting to require more and more energy. This is alongside the increased value of non-renewable natural resources because of their decline. Many countries, therefore, rely on natural resources to keep their economy afloat.
Natural resources and poverty
Poorer people tend to rely more on natural resources for their livelihoods, especially those in rural areas. Natural resources can also provide food and shelter directly to those who need it. Natural resources are, therefore, important in helping people in poverty to survive. When areas of natural resources receive investment, the people who live there are also able to gain from this.
Natural resources and employment
Natural resources are also very important for low to middle-income rural areas. Here, the vast majority of employment relies on the use of natural resources. For example, farming and the storage and transportation of goods.
When you think back to how many goods and services we use that stem from natural resources, you can begin to imagine how many jobs rely on natural resources worldwide, This can be anything from people who work in fast food places to the CEOs of international organizations all the way to coal miners. The importance of natural resources when it comes to employment, therefore, is almost too big to count.
Importance of natural resources to agriculture
Since humans began to move away from a nomadic hunter-gatherer existence to an agricultural one, we have used natural resources. In fact, there is no agriculture, without natural resources. Natural resources needed for agriculture can include soil, water, plants, animals, trees, resources needed to build farming equipment, resources needed to make fuel and electricity, and many more.
There has been a push in recent years to make farming and agriculture more sustainable because of its heavy reliance on natural resources. This includes using less intensive farming methods that do not destroy natural resources such as soil and vegetation. It also means managing the use of water, using sustainable and less damaging methods of pest control, Beyond the natural resource management for those used directly in agricultural methods, agriculture also relies on other natural resources such as the climate and sustainable fuel methods.
The importance of natural resources for daily life, the economy, and agriculture has always been very high. Humans would not be able to survive without natural resources. We rely on them for our farming practices, for the products and services that we use every single day, and many of us rely on them for our employment. A push away from non-renewable energy sources towards renewable ones is, therefore, vital if we are going to continue to live in the way that we currently do.