In this article we are going to talk about the Top 10 most important natural resources on Earth. Earth, our home planet provides us with everything we need to survive and to keep ourselves satisfied. We are provided with food to eat, water to drink, and energy to power machines and factories. What is a resource? Resource is anything that provides us with the basic needs that we require for our survival. These resources are broadly classified into two types: natural resources and human or man-made resources.
Natural resources are all of the resources that we get from our natural in and around us. They are the resources that are available to us without any human interference. It can be provided by the trees, the wind, the sun, etc. These natural resources can be further classified into two categories; they are renewable and non-renewable resources. Renewable resources are the ones that can be brought back or the ones which will no perish. Sunlight, wind are two great examples of it.
Non-renewable resources are the type of resources that will get exhausted upon over-exploitation of it. Coal and petroleum are examples of such resources. These resources are available in abundance for all of our needs and will be sufficient for all the future generations, only if we stop exploiting them. We have to keep in mind that all of these natural resources are not something that we have inherited from our forefathers, it is something that we have borrowed from our children. We need to use all of these judiciously if we want future generations to have blissful days ahead. It’s like what Mahatma Gandhi once said, “There is enough resources for everyone’s need, but not for anybody’s greed”.
We have to learn to go a little less liberal on the extraction and utilization of these minerals. It does not take an expert to tell us that we are using all of these natural resources in a horrible way. Scientists have predicted that if the consumption and the extraction go in the same way as it is today then our future generations will see all of them only in their history textbooks. The majority of the animals that were there a decade ago are being endangered or are already extinct. Extinction of these natural resources is the deadliest catastrophe that we might end up facing in the coming time. But it’s like they say, it’s never too late.
We, humans, have hope as much as the stars in the sky. Our optimism led us to believe that nothing at all will happen to all of these resources and that is what led us to this state. We have to implement more conservative measures and work on our consumption levels then we might end up with a little less devastating result. There are a lot of NGOs running social awareness campaigns to spread awareness amongst people. A lot of governments have banned the usage of plastic bags and are encouraging the 3R’s policy. The 3 R’s policy means to reuse, reduce, and recycle. This is a very successful program that is helping a lot of people to reform their lifestyles so that they can contribute a little bit towards the betterment of the future generations.
Top 10 most important natural resources on Earth
Here are some of the major natural resources that we use in our everyday life and are almost impossible to live without.
Water is an inorganic chemical substance that is made up of two fundamental elements, hydrogen and oxygen. It is impossible for humans to survive without water for more than three days. It is an odourless, colourless, and tasteless liquid that is very essential for our survival. The earth is referred to as a blue planet, it is covered with water bodies throughout. Despite all of this, only 2-½ percent of it is fresh water that we can use for our consumption. The human body is 75% full of water and we need it for our daily metabolisms and the proper functioning of our body. There is a lot of shortage of water and almost every government is working on ways for water treatment. They’re using all the latest technology for the recycling of water.
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Air is another natural resource that is most essential for the survival of all the living things. Clean air is essential for the existence of plants, animals, birds, and every other living thing. The air in our atmosphere consists of oxygen, nitrogen mainly but it also comprises of other gases like argon, carbon dioxide, etc. The clean air we have on our planet is in the perfect composition for the existence of living things. The air also forms a protective ozone layer around the earth so that the harmful UV rays emanating from the sun do not enter directly. It is like a protective blanket that keeps all of us safe. It is very important for us to reduce the air pollution as it can cause a lot of harmful breathing diseases like lung cancer or even asthma. We need to adopt methods to decrease air pollution.
Land is a natural resource that has been a very integral part of the evolutions of humans. The land that we have is of two types, agricultural land and arable land. This natural resource gives us the gift of soil. Soil is filled with nutrients and minerals which are very essential for the growth of crops. They help us in farming so that the vast human population and the cattle can have food to eat. We need to stop polluting the land by using chemicals and fertilizers that help in improving the yield. Granted they help in the yield, but it also is very harmful for the soil as it reduced the water holding capacity and the nutrients in it.
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Coal is a natural non-renewable resource that is used as a solid fossil fuel. The coal is a sedimentary rock that is used for many major purposes. They are used for the production of electricity, cement production, steel production, etc. It is estimated that at the current consumption rate of coal, the current stock will not last for more than 200 years. This is indeed a very worrying thing. Despite the existing alternatives for the coal like solar and wind energy, we are unable to harness it for all of our uses. The only reason for the usage of coal even today is it has a very cheap extraction and development process. Countries like China are increasing their demands for the want of coal which will mean that it will dwindle even faster. Coal also produces major air pollution with harmful chemicals being released from it when it is burnt.
5. Natural gas
Natural gas is the fuel that is used in our kitchens to cook food, used in vehicles to run our vehicles, used to light fires for BBQs, etc. The major component of natural gas is methane, along with presence of other gases. Natural gas is a much cleaner and greener alternative to coal and oils. Hence, their consumption rates over the past few decades have increased so much that we doubt if it will even last for more than 60 years.
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Iron is a natural resource as well and is the third most abundant element that makes up the mass of the earth. The Iron was and is the most important metal that we use in our everyday life. We extract iron from the iron ores and we have to extract the iron from the ore. The extraction is done under high temperatures and pressures. The extraction process also releases a lot of harmful smoke which pollutes the air around us. The iron despite being available in abundance is on the verge of getting extinct. This is a very important mineral and has no alternative. It must be used very wisely.
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Petroleum is a naturally occurring liquid that is present beneath the earth’s crust. This is a yellowish black liquid that can be developed into fuel to power automobiles and other types of machinery. The earth takes millions of years to process petroleum because, from the definition, it is a fossil fuel. The recent estimates made based upon our consumption rates show that the petroleum will not last for more than 55 years.
8. Forests (timber)
Forests are very necessary not only for humans but also for every other living organism as well. They are the home for countless birds, animals, and insects. Forests provide us oxygen that we breathe, they give us food to eat, timber for shelter, and also medicines for our ailments. The Forests are also the most contributing factor to reduce global warming, they help reduce air and noise pollution as well. Forests help us refresh our mind and our soul. These forests are decreasing at a very worrying rate. They are being cut down for the building of factories and houses, they are being destroyed due to forest fires and whatnot. This should change if we wish to have a healthier and longer life.
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Phosphorus is a major mineral that is very essential in growing of plants and all the crops. It provides the crop with the essential nutrients for the healthy and timely growth of the crops. The very worrying thing about this is that phosphorus is available only in three laces all over the world, the US, China, and Morocco. It is estimated assuming the current consumption rate that the stock will not last for more than a hundred years.
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10. Other minerals
There are so many other minerals like gypsum, bauxite, titanium, zirconium, mica, etc which are very essential for us. There are also other rare materials like potassium carbonate, neodymium, scandium, etc. They are used in the wind turbines, development of electronic chips like the motherboards and the PCB’s. All of these are present in very acute quantities and the exploitation of these will be very bad for the balance of the earth.
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We need to implement the ideology of conservative development if we wish to give our future generations a gratifying liveable earth. Urge everyone around you to contribute towards the betterment of earth as there is no planet like ours.