Renewable resources are those elements available on our planet that can be renewed without depleting their supply. A renewable resource, also called a renewable energy source, is an element that will replenish itself to restore to a portion, or all, of a non-renewable source to complete a full cycle within a given finite period in a human geographical region. For example, the earth’s surface is filled with millions of years of sunlight which will last a million years. The groundwater layer beneath the earth’s surface also contains a billion years of sunlight, which will also last a billion years more. Both of these resources will continually replenish themselves, thus remaining virtually unaffected from the loss or degradation of one resource. Since these resources are sustainable, they can realistically be replenished within a very short time.
In contrast, fossil fuels and their derivatives such as gas, coal, and oil cannot be renewed. Unlike renewable resources, natural resources are not lost from the earth or depleted over time. While resources such as wind and water may be depleted to the point that no more can be taken from them, the earth’s geothermal heat and light are constantly being produced, which can continue for millions of years. These natural resources will never run out because of their abundance. Likewise, although petroleum and coal can be depleted to the point that no more can be taken from them, scientists have identified ways to extract these fossil fuels which have been deemed carbon friendly over the last 50 years, meaning that future generations will not suffer the devastating effects of pollution from these natural resources.
Carbon dioxide is one of the leading contributors to global warming and its negative effects. Therefore, it has become a very urgent issue for all developed and developing countries to work together in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. One way that this can be achieved is through the use of alternate energy resources such as wind power and solar power. Alternative energy refers to energy sources that are renewable or replenishable. Some of the alternative energy sources that are available include biomass, nuclear energy, geothermal energy, hydroelectricity, ocean power, and vegetable oil fuel cells.
While there are many benefits to using renewable resources, another major issue regarding their use is their effect on the growth of the human population. Renewable resources such as air, land, and water can be replenished just on a regular basis unlike fossil fuels and coal which are thought to be non-renewable. This means that the human population will continue to increase over time and potentially outstrip the food supply.
The depletion of nonrenewable resources has had a detrimental effect on the world economy in the past. When petroleum, coal, and natural gas were used up, the economies of countries that depended on these natural resources were ruined. The United States, for example, became dependent on foreign oil after World War II. The country had to turn to countries like Saudi Arabia in order to meet its oil needs. Since then, the U.S. has been one of the biggest users of foreign oil leading to severe shortages and the price increases that accompany them.
Another common problem that arises from the use of nonrenewable resources is their impact on the environment. Human waste, landfills, and sewage are some of the effects of using nonrenewable resources. As population rises, so does the need for the limited supply of energy and the use of landfills. In addition, the pollution caused by the process of extracting natural resources may harm the environment.
The introduction of biofuels as an alternative to fossil fuels has helped reduce the negative impact of the limited supply of oil on the economy. Biofuels such as ethanol, biodiesel, and vegetable oil fuel cells have provided an alternative to the limited supplies of petroleum. Many countries around the world have made plans to increase their use of biofuel. However, the political support for biofuel is not always strong and this has led to problems in trying to implement projects that promote the use of biofuels. These problems are due to the fact that biofuel is not a widely accepted form of renewable resources. Also, the political backing for biofuel is often not provided by countries that would benefit most from the increased use of biofuels.
The growth of the economy of the country with the largest number of oil refineries has also made it more difficult to use finite fossil fuels. The problems caused by the limited supply of oil has lead to the price of gasoline increasing over the past few years. If people continue to use gas as their source of renewable energy, it is estimated that average family car costs will continue to increase. Although the use of gas as a source of renewable energy has become more expensive recently, many people continue to use it despite the cost.