A resource is any physical or virtual entity of limited availability, or anything used to help one earn a living.fact|date=February 2008 In most cases, commercial or even ethic factors require resource allocation through resource management.

Types of values attached to resources

As resources are very useful, we attach some value to them. Resources help to produce goods so they have economic value. Natural resources like forests, mountains etc. are very beautiful so they have aesthetic value. Gifts of nature such as water also have a legal value because it is our right to enjoy them. On the other hand, resources have an ethical value as well because it is our moral duty to protect and conserve them for the future generations.

Characteristics of resources

Resources have three main characteristics: utility, quantity (often in terms of availability), and use in producing other resources. However, this definition is not accepted by some, for example deep ecologists who believe that non-human elements are independent of human values.

The quantity of a resource refers to the total amount of a given raw material, rather than reserve which is an economic term.fact|date=August 2008 Bottlenecks may form, making some resources unavailable, producing supply shocks. Resource prices are prone to increases as speculators add commodity value to a resource or when risk, such as from geopolitical issues, are seen as an influencing factor in relation to the security of resource supply.

Value of a resource

The value or the importance of the gifts of nature depends upon several factors:

;The needs of the peopleHuman needs are not uniform all over the world. Over the years, they have grown and become more complex with the progress of human society. In very developed societies, people use a variety of products which are highly processed. On the other hand, in developing countries, the consumption of processed items is much less; while primitive communities like the Pygmies in Africa hardly use any processed items.

;The level of technology possessed by the peopleThe level of technology also influences the utilization of resources. For example, the Prairies of North America were inhabited by the American Indians who used the Prairies as hunting grounds. Later when the European settlers arrived, they used the Prairies for agriculture. Today the Prairies are famous for the cultivation of wheat and the rearing of animals on a commercial basis.

;TimeThe value of the resource changes with time as well. For example, water was used by early man purely for his personal needs. As time went on, water was used by humans for agricultural purposes namely irrigation. Later, water was also used as a means of transportation and humans built boats to travel on water. Nowadays, water is also used to generate electricity.

According to Walter Youngquist, during periods of economic growth supply demands on a resource will typically rise due to increasing consumption from not only population growth but also higher living standards and the increased uses found for a given resource.fact|date=August 2008

Types of resources

Natural resources

Natural resources are derived from the environment. Many of them are essential for our survival while others are used for satisfying our wants. Natural resources may be further classified in different ways.

On the basis of origin, resources may be divided into:
* Biotic - Biotic resources are the ones which are obtained from the biosphere. Forests and their products, animals, birds and their products, fish and other marine organisms are important examples. Minerals such as coal and petroleum are also included in this category because they were formed from decayed organic matter.
* Abiotic - Abiotic resources comprise of non-living things. Examples include land, water, air and minerals such as gold, iron, copper, silver etc.

On the basis of the stage of development, natural resources may be called:
* Potential Resources - Potential resources are those which exist in a region and may be used in the future. For example, mineral oil may exist in many parts of India having sedimentary rocks but till the time it is actually drilled out and put into use, it remains a potential resource.
* Actual Resources are those which have been surveyed, their quantity and quality determined and are being used in present times. For example, the petroleum and the natural gas which is obtained from the Bombay High Fields. The development of an actual resource, such as wood processing depends upon the technology available and the cost involved. That part of the actual resource which can be developed profitably with available technology is called a reserve.

On the basis of renewability, natural resources can be categorized into:
* Renewable Resources - Renewable resources are the ones which can be replenished or reproduced easily. Some of them, like sunlight, air, wind, etc., are continuously available and their quantity is not affected by human consumption. Many renewable resources can be depleted by human use, but may also be replenished, thus maintaining a flow. Some of these, like agricultural crops, take a short time for renewal; others, like water, take a comparatively longer time, while still others, like forests, take even longer.

* Non-renewable Resources - Non-renewable resources are formed over very long geological periods. Minerals and fossils are included in this category. Since their rate of formation is extremely slow, they cannot be replenished once they get depleted. Out of these, the metallic minerals can be re-used by recycling them. But coal and petroleum cannot be recycled.

On the basis of ownership,resources can be classified into:individual,community,national,and internationalIndividual resources:

Human resources

Human beings are also considered to be resources because they have the ability to change raw materials into valuable resources. The term Human resources can also be defined as the skills, energies, talents, abilities and knowledge that are used for the production of goods or the rendering of services. While taking into account human beings as resources, the following things have to be kept in mind:
* The size of the population
* The capabilities of the individuals in that population

Resource use and sustainable development

Many resources cannot be consumed in their original form. They have to be processed in order to change them into more usable commodities. This is known as resource development. With the rise in human numbers all over the world, the demand for resources has also increased. However, there is a difference in distribution of resources to different regions or countries. Developed countries use more resources than developing countries.

The rising demand coupled with the over-consumption of resources has led to several problems:
* Resource depletion
* Accumulation of resources in the hands of a few
* Environmental degradation
*Tragedy of the commons
*Resource curse

ee also

*Natural resource management
*Resource-based view
*World energy resources and consumption


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