There are many natural resources, but there are only three energy resources that can be considered both renewable and inexpensive: the sun, wind, and ocean currents/waves. Ironically, none of these natural resources can be tapped and utilized without the use of machines powered by fossil fuels, which are non-renewable resources. The thought, that all natural resources are renewable is a misconception.
What Are Renewable Resources?
Renewable resources can be used to categorize or describe any natural resource that is constantly available and able to renew its supply naturally. Many natural resources (including fossil fuels such as natural gas) are regarded as renewable resources (perhaps simply because they are natural resources). However, renewable resources are not even up to one-tenth of the natural resources we have.
Some of these natural resources are very durable, however, they will eventually deplete. A good example of one resource that is regarded as renewable is the ocean. They have been one of the primary food sources, providing a variety of seafood for thousands of years.
However, the ocean is getting dangerously near to the end of its relevance in terms of providing food. This is because mankind is depleting the ocean of its renewable resources at a much faster rate than it’s replenishing as we believe the ocean’s supply cannot be exhausted.
A renewable and inexpensive resource is solar power or wind. The world has been appreciating solar power as an energy source and it’s becoming a popular source of alternative electricity. This renewable source is free and you just need to install solar panels.
Let’s take a quick look at the explainer video below that explains the differences between renewable vs nonrenewable resources:
Solar Power as a Renewable Resource
When renewable resources are to be listed, it’s only right that the sun comes first. Essentially, every other form of energy (including nonrenewable energy resources) on earth originates from the sun. Whether it’s coal cultivated from trees, wind power, or oil from plant materials.
Wind originates from the sun as wind is a weather element created by the differences in pockets of air and electromagnetic radiation.
Ocean waves are probably the only natural phenomenon not controlled by the sun. Ocean tides are moved back and forth by the gravitational energy of the moon.
Solar energy has long since been exploited as a renewable and inexpensive energy source of electricity through photovoltaic or solar cells in solar panels for maximum reception of sunlight. The heat from the sun can also heat water for our usage. Perhaps, the sun may extinguish sometime in the future, but this will take billions of years to happen. So, by human standards, the sun can be considered one of the renewable energy sources.
Are Earth Minerals Renewable or Non-renewable Resources?
Mineral resources are abundant on earth and they are available in different forms; ranging from antimony to diamonds. Their formation in the Earth’s crust span millions of years. They are extremely durable and if not used by the human race, they are guaranteed to last as long as the Earth will. However, as we know, mineral resources are in high demand and this has greatly depleted their natural supply.
The very fact that the formation of mineral resources in the Earth’s crust takes millions of years already puts it light-years from being a renewable resource.
Wheat Crop as a Natural Resource
The wheat crop can hardly be categorized as both a renewable and non-renewable resource. Firstly, wheat crop cultivation is heavily dependent on an abundant supply of water and good availability of soil. These are two natural resources that are diminishing quickly. Their gradual scarcity is because of natural processes and the activities of mankind.
Droughts are becoming a common phenomenon in America and some states can only boast of a few inches of topsoil. In an effort to enhance the output of wheat crops, the human race has introduced genetically modified grains. Aside from interfering with geological processes, it’s not a sustainable idea.
Is a Forest a Renewable or Non-Renewable Resource?
Biomass energy has been hyped by proponents as one of the renewable energy sources and this misconception has been widely accepted as a fact. A lot of us think that wood pellets are fashioned out of scrap wood or shavings remaining from the cut or shaped timbers. While this is true to some extent, you should also know that many wood pellets are fashioned out of trees regarded as substandard for construction.
These “low-quality” trees are cut down and transformed into biomass energy. Not only is the effect of this process profoundly negative on the environment and detrimental to our health, but wood or products derived from it cannot be categorized as a renewable resource. Funny enough, afforestation has been seen as the correct answer to the continuity of trees or forests as a renewable resource, but is it? Is sustainably harvested timber a thing?
Even if we plant ten saplings for each tree we fall, it won’t be enough. This is because even the quickest growing trees will require at least a decade to reach maturity. Plus, mankind is cutting down and using these trees at a rate much quicker than the rate at which they are replenished naturally. Certain woods or trees even take much more than a decade to reach maturity and forests, which are eco havens, take centuries of years to develop. It’s a finite resource.
Mankind is bent on using every available tree in its quest for construction and manufacturing. Massive felling of trees has stripped our atmosphere of the ozone layer and triggered climate change, particularly global warming. Unless mankind can invent synthetic wood for manufacturing and construction, it’s only a matter of time before there are no more mature trees on the planet.
Is Nuclear a Renewable Energy Resource?
Nuclear energy is a nonrenewable resource. Nuclear energy gradually decays. This decomposition process triggers the emission of radioactive particles into the atmosphere. Nuclear power cells use a process called atomic particle shedding to generate extreme heat that’s being used to provide steam that can power generators for the power grid.
Nuclear energy is incredibly harmful and toxic to the environment and the human race. The residue left behind by nuclear power is capable of polluting the environment for thousands of years. For this reason, nuclear energy shouldn’t be utilized or harnessed as an energy resource. It should be stowed away deep underground or outside the planet, if possible.
Is Sand a Renewable or Non-Renewable Resource?
Sand is probably the most misunderstood nonrenewable resource on earth. Yes, it is inexhaustible in supply but doesn’t make it a renewable resource.
China carries out constructions every year and the overall size of what they build is equal to that of the city of Chicago. A lot of people think that because sand has an unlimited supply, we can’t ever run out of sand even if we build houses every day. What they don’t know is that concrete mixing doesn’t just require any kind of sand, but a specific kind. The kind of sand needed for construction is the type found on beaches; it has sharp edges.
You may be wondering why just beaches, what of our deserts? Well, desert sand is not suitable for construction because it has a rounded form. So using desert sand for construction won’t work because it won’t even stick cement particles or other grains. “Useful” sand is in limited supplies and it has become a precious natural resource. Pirates even steal sand from beaches across the world and sell it on the black market.
Which Resource Can Be Categorized as Both Renewable and Nonrenewable Resources?
Water! This may sound far-fetched, but the water on earth is in a closed cycle. Precipitation deposits on mountains are coming down to the ocean and going back to the atmosphere through evaporation. There are large hot water reservoirs, which also provide geothermal power.
Water’s biggest problem is its distribution as well as the extremely large amounts used to water crops and rear livestock. Unfortunately, in less than a century from now, even regions that have abundant water will suffer from water shortage and this can deteriorate into a violent crisis if it continues.
Climate change, misuse or wastage of water, and pollution are the reasons why water shortage is likely to happen in the future. So water is one of the non-renewable resources which is also renewable.
Which Resource Is Both Renewable and Inexpensive?
Sunlight powers the entire world 24 hours a day, all through the year. The abundance of sunlight as a natural energy resource cannot be emphasized enough. Solar power has been untapped by humans for centuries and it wasn’t until recently till they discovered that it can be used to generate electricity. While the Sun is renewable and inexpensive, harvesting solar energy to provide electricity isn’t.
The cost per kilowatt (KW) of solar energy has significantly reduced over the last 10 years. However, despite being affordable in the long run and saving you money by reducing your energy bill, solar panels still don’t compete favorably against high-capacity wind turbines in terms of their electricity output. It’s safe to say that wind energy is an excellent renewable and inexpensive resource.
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