A natural resource is a thing people can use which comes from Nature: people do not make it themselves. Examples of natural resources are air, water, wood, oil, solar energy, wind energy, coal. Petroleum used in cars is not a natural resource, for example, because people make it.
We often say there are two sorts of natural resource: renewable resources and non-renewable resources.
- A renewable resource is a resource that grows again, or comes back again after we use it. For example, fish is a renewable resource.
- A non renewable resource is a resource does not grow or come back, or a resource that would take a very long time to come back or grow. For example, coal is a non-renewable resource. When we use coal, there is less coal afterwards. One day, there will be no more coal.
Humans use a lot of natural resources to make goods. They can use a resource directly (for example, eating the fish or burning the wood to cook the fish), or they can change it by industry into a different thing (for example, they can use wind energy to make electricity to cook the fish).
Not all people in every country or place can get all natural resources. When people do not have one resource where they live, they can a) use another resource, or b) trade with another country (for example, they can buy oil from their neighbours). Some resources are rare - difficult to find - so people sometimes fight to have them (for example, oil resources).
When people do not have some natural resources their quality of life can drop. For example, when they can not get clean water, people may become ill; if there is not enough wood, all trees will be cut and the forest will disappear (deforestation); if there are not enough fish in a sea, people can die of starvation. Some examples of renewable resources are wood, solar energy, trees, wind, hydroelectric power, fish and sunlight.