Are natural resources a curse, a blessing, or a double-edged sword?

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2: Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia is a small country in the Middle East and is slightly larger than Mexico. Saudi Arabia has about $34.4 trillion worth of natural resources—notably oil. The nation has been a leading exporter ever since oil was discovered in 1938. With 22.4% of the world’s reserves, the country’s economy depends heavily on its oil exports. It also has the fourth-largest natural gas reserves. Saudi Arabia’s other natural resources include copper, feldspar, phosphate, silver, sulfur, tungsten, and zinc.

6. Brazil

Brazil has commodities worth $21.8 trillion including gold, iron, oil, and uranium. The mining industry focuses on bauxite, copper, gold, iron, and tin. Brazil has the largest gold and uranium deposits in the world and is the second-largest oil producer. However, timber is the country’s most valuable natural resource, accounting for over 12.3% of the world’s timber supplies.

There is a natural relationship between the economy and the world's natural resources—as the global economy grows, demand for commodities continues to rise.

Water for Agriculture, Life, and More

Lakes, rivers, and streams provide 87% of the water used in America. The electric power industry uses an astonishing 133 billion gallons per day. Water cools electricity-generating equipment, but it is returned. Agricultural irrigation uses 118 billion gallons per day, but it is not returned. Families, businesses, and industries use the rest.

The United States Geological Survey estimates that four states accounted for more than 25% of all water withdrawals in the U.S.: California, Texas, Idaho, and Florida.

How much U.S. natural resources are left?

In the U.S., some resources are able to be renewed, such as crops and livestock, as well as solar and wind power. But the nonrenewable resources are finite. Experts from Stanford University have estimated the remaining fossil fuels could be used up in decades: 30 years for oil, 40 years for gas, and 70 years for coal.