March 18, 2018 

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LAW OF INCREASING OPPORTUNITY COST: The proposition that opportunity cost, the value of foregone production, increases as more of a good is produced. This "law" can be seen in the production possibilities schedule and is illustrated graphically through the slope of the production possibilities curve. It generates the distinctive convex shape of the curve, making it flat at the top and steep at the bottom.

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The naturally occurring resources that are naturally a part of our natural planet which are directed toward production--including land, water, wildlife, vegetation, air, climate, sunshine, mineral deposits, and soil nutrients. Natural resources provide the materials that are used to produce all tangible products in the economy.
Natural resources is an alternative term for the generic resource category of land, and is often used to emphasize the "natural" dimension of land resources. Natural resources are all of the naturally occurring materials used in the production of tangible goods.

On, Under, Above

These materials naturally exist on the surface of the land, under the surface of the land, and above the surface of the land.
  • On: Naturally occurring resources on the surface of the land include water (rivers, lakes, and oceans), vegetation (trees, bushes, and grass), and wildlife (rabbits, deer, fish, and crawling insects).

  • Under: Naturally occurring resources under the surface of the land include mineral deposits (iron ore, bauxite, and diamonds), energy reserves (petroleum, natural gas, and coal), soil nutrients (phosphorus, nitrogen, and potassium), wildlife (gophers and earthworms) and ground water.

  • Above: Naturally occurring resources above the surface of the land include air (oxygen, nitrogen, and assorted trace elements), precipitation (rain, snow, sleet, and hail), solar radiation (sunshine), wildlife (birds and flying insects), atmospheric conditions (the ozone layer and greenhouse gases), and outer space (meteors, twinkling stars, and a full moon).

A Modern View

When the four basic resource categories (labor, capital, land, and entrepreneurship) were originally developed, agricultural production was the dominant economic activity. In that somewhat simplistic agrarian economy the key resource inputs were labor (worker), capital (shovels, hoes, and plows), land (soil), and entrepreneurship (the organizing, farmer-in-charge). Any entrepreneur seeking to organize production needed to combine workers, plows, and a plot of land.

Modern production, however, is substantially more diverse. Modern industrialized economies do not make use of land in the same way as agrarian economies. A lot of production depends on mineral resources and fossil fuels found beneath the ground or the air, sunshine, and precipitation above the ground. Land is not merely farmed and cultivated as it once was, but provides a wider array of natural resources. As such, it often makes sense to use the term natural resources.

The Environment

A term closely associated with, and often used synonymously for, natural resources is the environment, or natural environment. While the term the environment is also specified as the naturally occurring materials that are part of the planet, it is often used to emphasize the aggregation of the air, water, land, vegetation, and wildlife.

One key aspect of the environment is environmental quality, which is the degree to which the natural environment is free of artificial impurities. Such impurities, or pollution, are usually the result of production and consumption activities.


Recommended Citation:

NATURAL RESOURCES, AmosWEB Encyclonomic WEB*pedia,, AmosWEB LLC, 2000-2018. [Accessed: March 18, 2018].

Check Out These Related Terms...

     | factors of production | labor | capital | land | entrepreneurship |

Or For A Little Background...

     | scarcity | limited resources | opportunity cost | resource allocation | economic resource |

And For Further Study...

     | second estate | ownership and control | property rights | private property | private sector | production possibilities | short-run production analysis |

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