What is a resource? Many years ago I curiously asked a friend of mine.
‘Look around, you can see it everywhere. It‘s everywhere’ He answered.
It is true. We just haven’t thought about it much.
We are humans beings, and we have needs that must be fulfilled. We need food, water, shelter, clothing etc. If we don’t get these things we will not be alive for long. No matter how strong a person is. We call ‘Needs’ to the most basic urges and impulses we have. If you are familiar with Maslow‘s Pyramid, these are in the bottom part of that pyramid.
Once our needs are met, we move our focus into wants. Wants are different from needs. If we cannot satisfy our wants, we will still be alive. Food is a need, one cannot survive without food. But I may wish to eat fried basmati rice and a glass of fresh pineapple juice. That is a want. I will not die if I cannot get this dish.
Wants are mostly things that will help to make our life more pleasant. They are endless, more than the sands in Sahara desert. Tomorrow you may want to visit your grandparents house, but you don’t have a vehicle. Vehicle becomes your want. During the summer when you start feeling hot, you may want an AC in your room. AC is becomes your want.
Understanding and being able to navigate through human needs and desires is important if you want to identify resources that will fulfill people’s needs. One place to find this is from Maslow‘s Pyramid.
Now we come to the real question: What is a resource?
Resource is anything that can satisfy human wants or needs. I mean anything. Everything exists in this world can be a resource to someone.
What if we don’t have these urges and impulses we call needs and wants? Then nothing can be a resource. We need resources because we have needs and wants. And things that satisfy these needs and wants are resources.
How important resources are? Man, I can’t express how important it is in words. No keyboard is capable of typing how important they are. But let me show you how useful resources are to a typical individual. Take Robinson Crusoe for example. One can learn a lot from him.
When Crusoe swim on to the island. He didn’t bring anything with him except his bare hands. His ship was destroyed by angry hurricane.
He is on land, Tired of swimming for long time. How can we find out what resources he require? First we have to find out what are his needs. He must be hungry and thirsty. So first resources he need is food and water. His clothes are fine. He is on an island completely new to him. He doesn’t know how dangerous the place is. So next thing he need is protection. He also going to need shelter.
We know from the story that he built a house. To build a house, he need resources such as wood, palm leaves, rocks, etc. He also made spears out of wood for hunting fish and animals for food.
In order to survive on that island Robinson Crusoe collected many types of resources to fulfill his needs. Most of them are to fulfil his basic needs. In today world we are no longer worried about meeting our needs. We are worried about wants, and there is no end to this worry.
If we look at today’s world and look for resources we can put all of it into three major groups.
One is natural resources. Second is labour, and third is intellectual resources.
Natural resources are any useful thing we can obtain from the environment. Labour includes man power, machinery, and other form of forces. Last one, intellectual resources are all kind of knowledge, skills, experience.
Imagine a wooden table. How did it come to existence? A man walk into the wood, cut a tree down and collect some woods. Then he imagines a nice table, how he want it to be. He create it in his mind or sometimes draw it on a paper. After that he starts his work cutting, sawing, and fixing. Once the work is done, the table is created.
In creating this wooden table he used three types of resources mentioned earlier. He used natural resource (wood), Labour resource (his muscle power to cut and saw the wood) and intellectual resources: the knowledge of a table, it’s size, width and all.
What if he didn’t use one of these resources? Then It is not possible to create it. Imagine he is inside a huge forest and he know everything about tables. But he doesn’t use labour. The trees cannot cut by itself. So he must find labour resources. Without it no matter how much wood he has or how much he know about tables, he will end up without a table.
On the other hand if he is willing to use his muscle force as labour and he is in the Amazon rain forest, but he don’t know how to make a table. Then again he will end up without a table.
Therefore, a combination of these three resources required to create any object. Objects, I mean products or things. We create objects to fulfill our needs. Don’t forget, these objects are also resources. So by using resources we create resources that are more efficient. Transportation problem was solved this way. first, we used horse, then moved to bicycle, then motorcycle, then car. We created more efficient resources out of less efficient resources because we prefer efficiency over less efficiency. This way we have faster transportation today than before.
If we look around us today, we can see that every object exists to fulfil one or other needs or wants. If there is no need of a particular object, it will go to trash can.
The best place to look for resources is a shop. A shop is nothing but a storage place for a variety of resources. Objects (products) available in shops are exchangeable with money.