When it comes to minerals we mine and use to improve our lives, salt is undeniably the most recognisable. Salt, otherwise known as sodium chloride, is a non-renewable natural resource used not just for cooking and preserving foods, but also for manufacturing chlorine and sodium hydroxide used in common manmade materials like plastic, nylon and bulletproof glass, according to Earth Magazine. While salt is currently not under threat, if it did run out, we’d have to figure out a way to replace the vast majority of household items it’s used to create – and our meals would be pretty bland.
A rare yet essential mineral, phosphorus is found in just a few corners of the world, including China, Morocco and the United States, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. The agriculture industry relies on phosphorous to keep fertiliser healthy enough to sustain crops, and without it, we’d be facing a major, global food shortage. The Global Phosphorus Research Initiative warns that a shortage is likely unless we discover more reserves of this life-giving natural resource. Phosphorous also promotes healthy aquatic ecosystems, controlling the growth of algae and underwater plants.
Wind and solar energy
Solar energy and wind power are considered renewable natural resources, meaning as long as there’s a sun in the sky (the sun fuels wind, too), we won’t run out of them. Perhaps the only way we could run out of their energy, though, is via a ripple of effect – if the materials we use to build things like solar panels and windmills were somehow depleted. If the sun were to one day disappear, so would gravity, the Earth’s entire orbit, and a liveable climate, and life as we know it would cease to exist. The only hope for humans in this apocalyptic scenario would be to take refuge in submarines or geothermal habitats, according to Popular Science.
Want to have your mind blown even further? Read on to learn the 10 biggest unsolved mysteries about planet Earth.
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