This is in response to the rootsofprogress post "There are no natural resources" by Jason Crawford in 2017. His point is that everything in nature comes to us in a highly inconvenient form, citing iron ore to be refined and smelted, cotton to be picked and made into cloth, etc... 

Importantly he focuses only on those things which we have made for ourselves in recent history and must be transformed. For example, though we don't need to transform it to make good use of it, air and oxygen are vital to us, clean water can often be found in streams, and berries can be found ripe to be plucked in the wild. So rather than focus on the outer edge of our modern technology we can focus on the basics and see that nature has provided us with some natural resources, which is why we consider these basics in the first place.

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Thanks, I appreciate the pushback. Let me push back in turn:

  • Water in streams can't be counted on to be clean, which is why we have water filtration plants. Also it often isn't found where we want it, and so we have to transport it to our homes, farms, etc.
  • Berries have to be collected, and wild sources quickly run out. We also have to identify which berries are safe to eat. And in general all plants have evolved through human selection to be more productive, tastier, etc.
  • Air… is pretty usable as is, true.

I suppose there might be a very small number of resources we could consider almost fully natural. Air perhaps. Gravity? But we generally don't think of these things as “resources” at all.

Appreciate the discussion very much, and I hate to be academic and persnickety because reading your writing in this space is invaluable.

Agree on gravity, seems like some out of the box thinking. Air, temperature, and atmospheric pressure might be the only other fully natural resources. Anything which appears in our environment without needing to be altered.

While there are a few natural resources I think we rightly focus on the unnatural ones because spending our attention in those areas is far more fruitful.