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 more resources than under-developed countries.

The world economy uses around 60 billion tonnes of resources each year to produce the goods and services that we all consume. On average, a person in Europe consumes about 36kg of natural 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 ways include food and drink, housing and infrastructure, and mobility. These three make up more than 60% of resource use.

Food and drinks are from natural resources
Food and drinks are from natural resources

Food and drink:
It includes agricultural products as well as naturally occurring foods such as fish from freshwater 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 that come from our natural resources.

It includes automobiles, trains, water vessels, and airplanes, together with all the fuel that powers them. Can you imagine where all the raw materials used in their production came from?

Construction and housing materials are from natural resources
Construction and housing materials are from natural resources

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 daily. 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.

Our research for this topic included these sources:

1. OVERCONSUMPTION? Our use of the world´s natural resources. SERI, GLOBAL 2000, Friends of the Earth Europe, September 2009. http://www.foe.co.uk/sites/default/files/downloads/overconsumption.pdf