Artificial resources are artificial resources. It means they don’t occur naturally in the environment and aren’t naturally replenished, so we have to keep producing them, or we’ll run out.
All resources in our lives are either natural or artificial. Here, we’ll go through some examples of each, the difference between them, and the implications these resources have on our world and future.
What are resources?
First, it’s worth discussing what resources are in this context.
In primary school, we will discuss natural and artificial resources in the context of the physical materials we use. In this sense, resources are useful assets or materials we can utilize for our benefit. So, an example of a natural resource would be wood (which occurs naturally), and an example of an artificial resource would be concrete (which doesn’t happen naturally).
All the resources we encounter can be grouped into these two categories – natural and artificial. It’s important to consider where our resources come from, particularly when it comes to finite resources that we can’t take for granted and the use of which may harm our environment. It is especially important when it comes to issues of sustainability and climate change. So let’s look at what resources can fit into each category.
Natural Resource Examples:
As mentioned earlier, these resources occur naturally in the environment and can be harnessed by humans to benefit us. Natural resources can be renewable and non-renewable, covering many materials. Here are a few examples:
- Sand. If you go to the beach, you might see plenty of sand. It hasn’t been artificial, and it occurs naturally. While we can utilize sand to create other artificial resources (like glass), it is a natural resource.
- Gold. Gold also occurs naturally in the environment. It’s most commonly found deep in layers of the Earth. Gold has been found in rocks that are 4.5. billion years old, so it’s a really old resource. It’s thought that gold originates deep in space, originally formed from the explosion of supernova stars. As a relatively rare element, it’s become valuable as a form of currency, jewelry, and artistic material throughout human history.
- Coal. Coal is a natural fossil fuel most often found in underground sedimentary deposits. Humans have mined coal for centuries to use it as a fuel source.
- Wood. Wood is another key natural resource that occurs naturally in trees. We’ve also used it since ancient times as a source of fuel, shelter, and more.
- Iron. Iron occurs naturally in the Earth’s crust and is the fourth most commonly occurring element. We’ve been using it for over 5,000 years, and it’s now used in plenty of alloys like cast iron, steel, and carbon steel. We can use these to build bridges, cars, trains, ships, and loads of other machines that make up our modern world.
In contrast to these natural resources, many artificial resources make up the world around us. We’ll run through a few examples of these below.
Artificial Resource Examples
Artificial resources, then, are artificial and do not occur naturally. People cannot make natural resources as the Earth produces them. People might be able to change and utilize natural resources for their needs, but we can’t produce them. Artificial resources have been created by humans and don’t occur naturally anywhere else – these makeup plenty of the vital resources we use to survive.
Here are a few key examples of artificial resources.
- Concrete is the most popular artificial resource on Earth. It’s the second most utilized resource after water and makes up so much of our history and civilization. It’s made up of water, cement, and aggregates like sand or gravel. We have to mix these ingredients to produce concrete, which is then used to create roads, buildings, and loads.
- Glass is also a commonly used artificial resource. It’s originally made from sand, which occurs naturally, but glass is only the result of artificial production. It’s made by heating sand to 1700°C, so it melts and then sets.
- Paper is another artificial resource that originally comes from trees. Fibers from extracted from trees and converted into pulp. It is then combined with water, and with the help of a paper-making machine, it’s flattened, dried, and turned into sheets of paper.
- Nylon is artificial as it is made from artificial polymers which are chemically processed. It is also used in other clothing, nets, toothbrushes, and other items.
- Steel. Steel is made from 2 natural materials: Iron and carbon. Because these materials have been artificially processed, steel is an artificial resource. Nevertheless, it’s commonly used in buildings, planes, pots, pans, and other utensils.