Thursday, February 7, 2008

Natural Resources - economic resources provided by nature

natural resource is anything provided by nature that can be used to satisfy human needs and wants. Economists sometimes refer to natural resources as land. However, as a category of economic resources, land also includes anything nature provides in the air or water, on land, or under the earth. Examples of natural resources are soil, water, trees, minerals, animals, sunlight, and air.

Some natural resources are renewable and others are nonrenewable. A renewable resourceis capable of being replaced in a relatively short period of time. Examples of renewable natural resources are the sun, wind, forests, fish, oxygen, and fresh water. A nonrenewable resourceeither cannot be replaced or its replacement requires an extremely long period of time. Examples of nonrenewable natural resources are minerals and fossil fuels, such as oil, coal, and natural gas.[i]

It is possible for renewable resources to become nonrenewable if they are mismanaged by society. Plants and animals become nonrenewable if they are allowed to become extinct. Forests can become nonrenewable if they are clear-cut. Fresh air and water can become nonrenewable if they are damaged by pollution. Soil can become nonrenewable if society uses damaging agricultural practices. Many societies ask the government to help protect renewable resources from becoming nonrenewable.

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