What are resources? A resource can be almost anything as long as it is helpful to people. That's what makes somethinga resources - its usefulness.
Many things that are part of nature are useful. For example, water, air, soil, sunlight, and wild animals are natural resouces. People tend to take natural resources for granted. But these resources make it possible for life to exist on the earth.
Can you think how you would survive without water? Water is used for drinking, cooking, and washing. Without water, farmers could not grow food. People also use water as a means of transportation.
Like landforms and climate, natural resources greatly affect how the people of an area live. Natural resources are not spread evenly across the earth. Some areas are rich in them and others are not. What problems might exist in a region that does not have a rich supply of natural resources?
Some of the most important natural resources are minerals. Minerals are natural substances that are reach by mining, or digging into the earth. Minerals can be divided into two groups: metals and nonmetals. Most metallic minerals are hard and shiny.
To realize how important minerals are, you only have to look around. Think of the things you use each day.
You can probably see in your classroom mant products made from metallic minerals. Your desk may be made partly of iron. Coins are made of nickel or copper.
What about nonmetallic minerals? The salt you use to flavor your food is a nonmetallic mineral. At one time, salt was used to make the windows on your school and home. The cement used to make sidewalks is also a mixture of many nonmetallic minerals.
Like most natural resources, minerals are not spread evenly around the world. An area of the world may be very rich in some resources and poor or lacking in others. South africa, for example, has some of the largest reserves of gold and uranium. However, it has very little gas and oil. Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, lacks most metallic minerals but has large deposits of oil beneath the desert sands.
It is important to realize that all resources are very valuable. Some resources are renewable resources, or resources that can replace or rebuild themselves. If used correctly, renewable resources will always available. Most living resources such as plants and animals are renewable resources. Although renewable resources can be replaced, they must be used wisely. Water, for example, can become dirty and unusable.
In modern times, the uses of and need for natural resources have grown greatly. Many important resources are nonrenewable resources, or resources that can never be renewed or replaced. Metals are nonrenewable resources. Once a nonrenewable resource is gone, it is gone forever.
Meeting today's energy needs demands vast quantities of precious nonrenewable resources. Today's manufactured goods, such as cars and computers, require great amounts of coal and oil, for example. You can see why people must carefully plan the way natural resources are used - especially if the needs of future generations are to be met.
People are an important factor in the world's resources. Every person is different, with his or her own skills. In this article you will explore across the special connections between people and world geography.
The geography of these regions includes almost every kind of landform, vegetation, climate, and natural resource. Discovering how the people of these regions have, over thousands of years, dealt with the geography of their lands is a fascinating story. It is the story you will learn about in the chapters that follow.