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Natural Resources
Notes from video:
Types of Natural Resources
Defining Natural Resources
Natural resources are materials that exist in nature that have material
economic value. Forests, fresh water and mineral deposits are examples of
natural resources. Natural resources are used to make food and fuel, and are
used as materials in the production of finished goods.
The economic value of natural resources changes over time. In the early
1900s coal was in high demand. Many industries and households used coal
for heat and energy. As gas and oil became more popular, the demand for coal
diminished until it was practically worthless. Many coal mines were closed
because there was very little need for it. In recent years, the demand for coal
has increased as large farms and smaller industries are seeing coal as a
competitive alternative to heating with electricity or gas.
Renewable Resources
Natural resources can be divided into two groups. Renewable resources are
resources that can be used and replaced. They include plants and animals,
which reproduce and thus replace themselves. Most renewable resources
cannot be stored for future use. Water, for example, is a renewable resource
that can be used but cannot effectively be stored for a long period of time.
Renewable resources often are living organisms and interact with one
another. As a result, the use of one such resource affects many other
renewable resources. If water is polluted while it is being used, that pollution
finds its way into other renewable resources and contaminates them as well.
Non-renewable Resources
Non-renewable resources cannot be replaced after they are used. They often
take many years to form. After they are extracted from the earth, they can be
stored for a considerable length of time. Most non-renewable resources are
not living organisms so the extraction and use of one resource will not impact
other non-renewable resources. For example, iron is a non-renewable
resource. It takes many years and geological processes for iron to form. Once
it is mined, it can be refined and then stored for some time. The extraction of
the iron from the earth’s crust has no impact on the petroleum reserves.
There are impacts to the environment, but that is another lesson later on.
Technology and research has made it possible to recycle many non-renewable
resources. As a result, non-renewable resources are being used more than
once in its life.