The things available in our environment that can be used to satisfy our needs are called resources.
Things available in our environment become resources only when human beings find a way to transform them into a useful form. For a thing to become a resource:
- Suitable technology must exist to transform it into some useful form.
- Its use must be financially viable and culturally acceptable.
Resources can be classified based on their origin, exhaustibility, ownership and status of development. Resources can be living or non-living. All resources that come from living things, like forests, land and sea animals, insects and human beings, are called biotic resources.
Resources in the form of non-living things, like rocks, minerals and metals, are called abiotic resources. Resources can also be classified based on whether they can be regenerated or lost forever once used. Resources like solar and wind energy, reversible chemical reactions and physical power, which can be regenerated once used, are called renewable resources.
Fossil fuels like coal, natural oil and gas cannot be reproduced once used are examples of non-renewable resources. Resources like private houses, shops, farms and plantations are owned by individual persons, and are called individual resources. Resources like public parks, places of worship, schools and hospitals which are open to all members of a community are examples of community-owned resources.
All resources, biotic or abiotic, individual or community-owned, ultimately belong to the country and are called national resources. Resources found on land and the vast stretches of oceans, which are not owned by any particular nation, are called international resources, and are managed by institutions related to the United Nations.
Resources like mines, where minerals have already been discovered and production is on to utilise their full capacity, are called developed resources.
Resources that are known to exist, but are not being fully utilised, are called potential resources. Stock is a type of resource that cannot be used due to the unavailability of suitable technology, but may be used in the future. Resources that can be used today, but are preserved to meet future requirements, are called reserves.