What Are Natural Resources? - Definition & Types

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  • 0:04 Natural Resources
  • 1:20 Biotic and Abiotic…
  • 2:16 Renewable And…
  • 3:20 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Angela Lynn Swafford

Lynn has a BS and MS in biology and has taught many college biology courses.

Natural resources are materials provided by the Earth that humans can use to make more complex (human-made) products. In this lesson, you will learn some examples of natural resources and how to classify them.

Natural Resources

Natural resources are useful raw materials that we get from the Earth. They occur naturally, which means that humans cannot make natural resources. Instead, we use and modify natural resources in ways that are beneficial to us. The materials used in human-made objects are natural resources. Some examples of natural resources and the ways we can use them are:

Natural Resource Products or Services
Air Wind energy, tires
Animals Foods (milk, cheese, steak, bacon) and clothing (wool sweaters, silk shirts, leather belts)
Coal Electricity
Minerals Coins, wire, steel, aluminum cans, jewelry
Natural gas Electricity, heating
Oil Electricity, fuel for cars and airplanes, plastic
Plants Wood, paper, cotton clothing, fruits, vegetables
Sunlight Solar power, photosynthesis
Water Hydroelectric energy, drinking, cleaning

Biotic and Abiotic Natural Resources

There are several ways to classify natural resources, including where they come from and if they are renewable or not. If natural resources come from living things or organic materials, then they are considered biotic resources. Biotic resources include plants, animals, and fossil fuels. The three fossil fuels are coal, oil, and natural gas. Fossil fuels are classified as biotic resources because they were formed from the decay of organic matter over millions of years. On the other hand, abiotic resources originate from nonliving and inorganic materials. For example, air, sunlight, and water are abiotic natural resources. Minerals (gold, copper, iron, diamonds) are also considered abiotic.

Renewable and Nonrenewable Resources

Renewable resources are those that can be replenished during our lifetime, such as sunlight, wind, water, plants, and animals. The rate at which renewable resources are replenished may differ. For example, we will never run out of sun and wind in our lifetime because the Earth constantly supplies these resources.

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