What Are Renewable & Non-Renewable Sources?


The Earth offers natural resources that are used in a variety of ways such as heating homes and powering laptops. There are three types of natural resources: perpetual, renewable and non-renewable. For example, perpetual natural resources like wind and sun are everlasting and not affected by how much and how quickly the resources are consumed. However, renewable and non-renewable resources are defined by how they are consumed and the rate of consumption.

Definition of Non-renewable Resources

  • Non-renewable resources are natural resources that are in limited supply. Therefore, once the resources are used up, they can't be replenished or reproduced. The resources can't even be reused. Thus, when non-renewable resources are gone, they are gone for good. In addition, non-renewable resources are harmful to the environment since eliminating the natural resource depletes part of the Earth. Also, the way non-renewable resources are retrieved from the Earth is environmentally damaging. For example, some non-renewable resources are mined.

Definition of Renewable Resources

  • Renewable resources are natural resources that are unlimited. According to Facts About Solar Energy, an information resource about solar energy, renewable resource are resources that can be continually reproduced over a relatively short time frame. The natural resources are replenished on their own or with assistance from people. Renewable resources are reused in different ways. Renewable resources also reuse perpetual resources like wind and sun in different ways. Unlike non-renewable resources, renewable resources aren't harmful to the environment to retrieve. In fact, renewable resources can be reused in different ways. For instance, wood can be made into paper products then recycled into another product.

Types of Non-renewable and Renewable Resources

  • Non-renewable resources are natural resources such as petroleum products---propane, gasoline and diesel fuel---natural gas, uranium and coal. Minerals such as copper are also considered non-renewable resources. Renewable resources are resources such as water, solar, wood, animals, oxygen, biomass---which refers to municipal solid waste---foods, plants and geothermal.

Risks to Natural Renewable Resources

  • Although non-renewable resources can never become renewable, the opposite can happen. Renewable resources are at risk of becoming non-renewable resources when used improperly. For example, a forest is a natural renewable resource. However, if people cut timber faster than it is grown, then a forest can be non-renewable because of deforestation. Renewable resources can also become non-renewable when affected by the overuse of hunting, irrigation and fishing and too much suburban sprawl and habitat destruction, according to Oracle ThinkQuest.

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