Types of Environmental Resources

Natural resource economics focuses on the supply, demand, and allocation of the Earth's natural resources.

Learning Objective

  • Analyze natural resource economics and explain the types of natural resources that exist.

Key Points

  • Natural resource economics focuses on the supply, demand, and allocation of the Earth's natural resources.
  • Every man-made product in an economy is composed of natural resources to some degree.
  • Natural resource utilization is regulated through the use of taxes and permits. The government and individual states determine how resources must be used and they monitor the availability and status of the resources.

Terms

  • Renewable

    Sustainable; able to be regrown or renewed; having an ongoing or continuous source of supply; not finite.

  • natural resource

    Any source of wealth that occurs naturally, especially minerals, fossil fuels, timber, etc.

  • depletion

    The consumption of a resource faster than it can be replenished.

Natural Resource Economics

Natural resource economics focuses on the supply, demand, and allocation of the Earth's natural resources. It's goal is to gain a better understanding of the role of natural resources in the economy. Learning about the role of natural resources allows for the development of more sustainable methods to manage resources and make sure that they are maintained for future generations.The goal of natural resource economics is to develop an efficient economy that is sustainable in the long-run .

Importance of the Environment

This diagram illustrates how society and the economy are subsets of the environment. It is not possible for societal and economic systems to exist independently from the environment. For this reason, natural resource economics focuses on understanding the role of natural resources in the economy in order to develop a sufficient and sustainable economy that protects natural resources.

Natural resources are derived from the environment. Some of the resources are essential to survival, while others merely satisfy societal wants. Every man-made product in an economy is composed of natural resources to some degree.

There are numerous ways to classify the types of natural resources, they include the source of origin, the state of development, and the renewability of the resources.

In terms of the source of origin, natural resources can be divided into the following types:

  • Biotic: these resources come from living and organic material, such as forests and animals, and include the materials that can be obtained them. Biotic natural resources also include fossil fuels such as coal and petroleum which are formed from organic matter that has decayed.
  • Abiotic: these resources come from non-living and non-organic material. Examples of these resources include land, fresh water, air, and heavy metals (gold, iron, copper, silver, etc.).

Natural resources can also be categorized based on their stage of development including:

  • Potential resources: these are resources that exist in a region and may be used in the future. For example, if a country has petroleum in sedimentary rocks, it is a potential resource until it is actually drilled out of the rock and put to use.
  • Actual resources: these are resources that have been surveyed, their quantity and quality has been determined, and they are currently being used. The development of actual resources is dependent on technology.
  • Reserve resources: this is the part of an actual resource that can be developed profitably in the future.
  • Stock resources: these are resources that have been surveyed, but cannot be used due a lack of technology. An example of a stock resource is hydrogen.

Natural resources are also classified based on their renewability:

  • Renewable natural resources: these are resources that can be replenished. Examples of renewable resources include sunlight, air, and wind . They are available continuously and their quantity is not noticeably affected by human consumption. However, renewable resources do not have a rapid recovery rate and are susceptible to depletion if they are overused.
  • Non-renewable natural resources: these resources form extremely slow and do not naturally form in the environment. A resource is considered to be non-renewable when their rate of consumption exceeds the rate of recovery. Examples of non-renewable natural resources are minerals and fossil fuels.

There is constant worldwide debate regarding the allocation of natural resources. The discussions are centered around the issues of increased scarcity (resource depletion) and the exportation of natural resources as a basis for many economies (especially developed nations). The vast majority of natural resources are exhaustible which means they are available in a limited quantity and can be used up if they are not managed correctly. Natural resource economics aims to study resources in order to prevent depletion.

Natural resource utilization is regulated through the use of taxes and permits. The government and individual states determine how resources must be used and they monitor the availability and status of the resources. An example of natural resource protection is the Clean Air Act. The act was designed in 1963 to control air pollution on a national level. Regulations were established to protect the public from airborne contaminants that are hazardous to human health. The act has been revised over the years to continue to protect the quality of the air and health of the public in the United States.

Wind

Wind is an example of a renewable natural resource. It occurs naturally in the environment and has the ability to replenish itself. It has also been used as a form of energy development through wind turbines.

Speech on Environmental Issues

Biggest environmental Problem

Two environmental Problems