Why are Natural Resources so important?
Natural resources are available to sustain the very complex interaction between living things and non-living things. Humans also benefit immensely from this interaction. All over the world, people consume resources directly or indirectly. Developed countries consume resources more than under-developed countries.
The world economy uses around 60 billion tonnes of resources each year to produce the goods and services which we all consume. On the average, a person in Europe consumes about 36kg of resources per day; a person in North America consumes about 90kg per day, a person in Asia consumes about 14kg and a person in Africa consumes about 10kg of resources per day.
In what form do people consume natural resources? The three major forms include Food and drink, Housing and infrastructure, and Mobility. These three make up more than 60% of resource use.
Food and drink:
This includes agricultural products as well as naturally occurring foods such as game, fish from fresh water and seas, seeds and nuts, medicines, herbs and plants. They also include drinking water, as well as water for sanitation and household use. Think of ceramic plates, silverware (spoons, forks and knives), cans, milk packages, paper and plastic cups — they are all made from raw materials which come from our natural resources.
This includes automobiles, trains, water vessels, airplanes, together with all the fuel that powers them. Can you imagine where all the raw materials used in their production came from?
Housing and infrastructure:
Think about all the houses, public places, roads and constructed objects you have in your city or town. Think about all the energy for heating and cooling that we consume in our homes — can you imagine where all the wood, metals, plastic, stone and other materials came from?
Beyond these three major areas of resource consumption, we consume much more resources from our environment on a daily basis. The role of natural resources in sustaining life on earth is extremely important and we must ensure that we protect the environment and also make it easy for it to replenish itself naturally.