Natural resources are resources that exist without any actions of humankind. This includes all valued characteristics such as magnetic, gravitational, electrical properties and forces, etc. On Earth, it includes sunlight, atmosphere, water, land (includes all minerals) along with all vegetation, crops, and animal life that naturally subsists upon or within the previously identified characteristics and substances.
Based on the recovery rate, natural resources can be categorized as follows:
- Renewable resources: Renewable resources can be replenished naturally. There are some of these resources, like sunlight, air, wind, water, etc. are continuously available and their quantities are not noticeably affected by human consumption. Though many renewable resources do not have such a rapid recovery rate, these resources are susceptible to depletion by over-use. Resources from a human use perspective are classified as renewable so long as the rate of replenishment/recovery exceeds that of the rate of consumption. They replenish easily compared to Non-renewable resources.
- Non-renewable resources: Non-renewable resources either form slowly or do not naturally form in the environment. Minerals are the most common resource included in this category. From the human perspective, resources are non-renewable when their rate of consumption exceeds the rate of replenishment/recovery; a good example of this are fossil fuels, which are in this category because their rate of formation is extremely slow (potentially millions of years), meaning they are considered non-renewable.
Difference between Renewable and Non-Renewable Resources
|Renewable resource||Non-renewable resource|
|It can be renewed as it is available in infinite quantity||Once completely consumed, it cannot be renewed due to limited stock|
|Sustainable in nature||Exhaustible in nature|
|Low cost and environment-friendly||High cost and less environment-friendly|
|Replenish quickly||Replenish slowly or do not replenish naturally at all|
Based on origin, natural resources may be divided into two types:
If natural resources come from living things or organic materials, they are termed as living or biotic resources. Biotic resources include plants, animals, and fossil fuels. Fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas are classified as biotic resources as they are formed from the decay of organic matter over millions of years.
On the other hand, if the resources are derived from nonliving or inorganic materials, they are termed as abiotic resources. For instance, air, sunlight, and water are abiotic natural resources. Minerals are also considered abiotic.