Resources, or the wealth nature has bestowed on us are essential for civilised living, and therefore, they have to be wisely used. However, it is believed that these resources are being used indiscriminately. This is partly because of the tremendous increase in population and partly because there is insufficient realisation that these resources will one day be exhausted. Industrial and technological progress which the world has experienced has increased the rate at which these resources are being used. A significant factor has been that, for centuries, the resources of some countries have been exported as raw materials to the dominant or imperial countries. The poor countries still have to export some precious minerals to the same countries which are now called developed countries. For example, we are now-a-days exporting cadmium, a soft silvery metal, to foreign countries so as to earn foreign currency to meet our other necessities. The metal is extremely useful and is used for a variety of purposes like making cadmium rods for nuclear reactors and cadmium-silver cells for electronic watches etc. At present, we are not able to make much use of this metal in our country because of the low level of technological development. If tomorrow our mineral reserve of this metal is exhausted, we may be forced to import it at a much higher cost. Some countries which are importing this mineral may be stock-piling it and they will sell it at exorbitant price when our stocks are exhausted.
We should, therefore, know what our natural resources are, what their uses are and how judiciously we can make use of these resources. Careful and planned use will no doubt increase the life span of our resources. For this it is necessary that we are able to explore our natural resources and estimate their reserves. Modem technology has made scientific exploration of natural resources possible. Our resources are basically of two kinds, viz, renewable and non-renewable. Let us see what they mean. Some of the resources of the earth are replaced from time to time by natural multiplication as for example, is vegetation.
In other words, these resources are inexhaustible and are therefore called renewable resources. Forests, pastures, wild life. and aquatic life are renewable resources. Water is also a renewable resource because it recycles. There are some other resources, such as minerals which once used are lost for ever. They cannot be regenerated. Mineral deposits were formed slowly in millions of years. Once a deposit is used, it cannot be regenerated. For example, petrol gets burnt up and cannot be recovered. These are known as non-renewable resources. Similarly, the formation of soil is a very slow and long term process and it takes thousands of years. It is, therefore, not renewable in the life span of even several generations of people. Hence it is also a non-renewable resource.