Do natural resources exist?

Do natural resources exist? This debate explores certain kinds of pseudo-arguments made by people who hold non-trivial positions in certain human institutions. The method employed in this debate is to respond to arguments made as if they were worth a serious answer, no matter how clearly false they may appear.

Natural resources existEdit

Arguments forEdit

  •   Argument for Natural resources, such as land, water (lakes, rivers), fisheries, mined resources, etc. do exist. They are resourses because they are things that can be put to various uses by humans, sometimes used up. And they are natural because they exist or existed before or without human intervention.
    •   Objection Some resources considered "natural" do occur with human intervention, e.g. timber in artificially planted forests.
      •   Objection That only means that there are degrees of naturalness. Thus, iron ore is more natural than an artificially planted forest with artificial tree species composition. The conclusion that natural resources exist stands, whether fully natural or partially natural/with human intervention.
  •   Argument for Natural resources exist because the wealth of a nation´s demonstrates its dependence on them. Speaking superficially, rich nations are rich because of their natural resourses, and poor nations are so also because of lack of it. Wars are fought not to acquire ingenuous and creative inhabitants of lands but over natural resources of lands, often on false pretexts. It was the sudden scarcity of the natural resource of oil in 1973 that created recession, high inflation, reduced productivity, and reduced economic growth.

Arguments againstEdit

  •   Argument against 'Take the term “natural resources”. This phrase suggests that some things of value to human beings occur naturally – without any human effort or creativity. But that suggestion is wrong. Nothing is naturally a resource; nature alone invests nothing with resourcefulness; ultimately, resources – all resources – are created by human beings' [citation needed].
  •   Argument against 'Raw materials and human artifacts are made into resources only if, and only when, and only insofar as, human creativity figures out a way (or ways) to employ those materials and artifacts in ways that satisfy genuine human desires' [citation needed].
    •   Objection A water resource such as a well can satisfy genuine human desire to drink and no creativity is required at all for water from that resource to serve the purpose. Similarly, very little creativity is required for a human to catch a fish from a river in which fish is abundant. Non-human primates can access and use natural resources without human creativity.
  •   Argument against 'The human mind is the ultimate resource, because it and only it creates all of the other economically valuable inputs that we call “resources”'. 'In short, a material’s character as a resource is instilled in it by human ingenuity [citation needed].
    •   Objection A water resource such as a well is a resource not by human ingenuity but by human need or demand; it is something capable of satisfying a human need and often no ingenuity is required for that satisfaction to happen.
    •   Objection What the argument seems to be trying to say, using misleading phrasing, is that a thing does not get the status of a resource unless there is some demand for it by humans. An alternative phrasing would be that a thing does not become desirable unless someone desires it. However, that does not mean it is humans who create the thing to which humans confer the status of desirable.
    •   Objection Humans are not the only entities creating demand on resources: animals and plants confer the status of a resource to a water resource as well. And even if we accept for the sake of the argument that it is a human desire that creates e.g. river as a water resource, that does not make the river any less naturally occurring and thus natural resource. Importantly, this word game of using "creates" produces the absurd impression that human demand, instead of putting strain on resources (e.g. water resources and hunting game), actually creates them. To aid clear thought, this word game should be abandoned and clear, non-misleading wording should be used instead: humans, and also animals and plants, confer the status of a resource to a thing via demand but do not thereby create the thing.
    •   Objection Even if human ingenuity were in fact required for each use of a resource, that would not make the thing any less of a resource, and for some resources, naturally occurring one. The need of ingenuity would not make the natural resource any less scarce either. Thus, let us image that each human who wants to use a well as a source of water first needs to solve a puzzle, using their ingenuity. Even so, the water resource is finite and at the risk of running out if too many humans use their puzzle-solving ingenuity to use the resource.
  •   Argument against 'Not until about 10,000 years ago did some creative individuals figure out how to cultivate land for agricultural purposes. Only then did land become a resource' [citation needed].
    •   Objection Land was a resource before agriculture, to walk on, sleep on, to hunt animals on, to gather fruits and nuts, etc. Before agriculture, land with water resources and huntable game (specific natural resources found in or on land) was a more valuable resource than a desert.
    •   Objection This argument actually accepts that land is a resource.
  •   Argument against 'There are no “natural” resources. Everything nature gives us is wrong somehow. Through effort and ingenuity we make natural materials and energy into what we need' [citation needed].
    •   Objection Effort is required for use of any resource, whether natural or not. Thus, cooked food requires effort to bring it to the mouth, which does not diminish its being a resource. A tractor for agriculture requires a driver's effort to operate it but it is still a resource, even if not a natural one. A resource is fully natural if it was not made or shaped by humans, e.g. a water resource such as river or iron ore, and such resources do exist.

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