Nonrenewable resources are classified into four types: oil, natural gas, coal, and nuclear energy. The term "fossil fuels" refers to oil, natural gas, and coal as a group. Oil, natural gas, and coal are used for energy production while their residual material, called ash, is used in various products such as concrete and glass. Nuclear energy is the source of heat for electricity production but it too has its waste product - radioactive isotopes that decay over time - that must be managed. Natural sources of energy are limited and the extraction of their fuel causes damage to the environment.
Renewable energy sources are derived from natural processes such as wind power, solar power, wave action, geothermal energy, and hydroelectricity. In general, these sources are unlimited in supply, do not cause pollution, and are becoming more popular all the time. Some argue that using renewable energy sources is better for the environment because they reduce dependence on fossil fuels and help limit global warming. Others say that we need both renewable and non-renewable energy sources together for security reasons. Renewable energy technologies include solar cells, wind turbines, and hydropower plants. Non-renewable energy technologies include oil and natural gas wells, coal mines, and nuclear reactors.
Crude oil, natural gas, coal, and uranium are examples of nonrenewable resources. These are all resources that are converted into economically viable goods. The fossil fuel sector, for example, collects crude oil from the earth and turns it to gasoline. Natural gas is used as a fuel itself but it can also be converted into an energy source through chemical reactions. Uranium is used in nuclear power plants to produce electricity.
The production of gasoline uses up large amounts of nonrenewable energy. In fact, it takes more than 10 million barrels of oil daily to make a single gallon of gasoline. This means that just to keep our cars on the road we need to look at ways to reduce driving or find alternatives to petroleum-based fuels.
Natural gas has become an increasingly popular replacement for gasoline because it is clean and does not cause pollution. It also reduces carbon dioxide emissions by about 20 percent compared to gasoline vehicles. However, gas stations tend to be located far apart and that can be inconvenient for some people. Also, there is no way to run out of gas if you drive like a crazy person!
Coal and oil are both finite resources and they are used in combination to make synthetic fibers such as polyester. Oil is also used in plastic products, paint, and varnishes. All these materials are essential for modern life but they do use up nonrenewable resources.
Coal, natural gas, oil, and nuclear energy are examples of nonrenewable energy sources. Once these resources are depleted, they cannot be replenished, which is a big issue for mankind because we rely on them to provide the majority of our energy demands. Solar power is another form of non-renewable energy.
Renewable resources are resources such as water, wind, sunlight that can be restored or recycled each year. Renewable resources include solar energy, hydroelectric power, and wind power. Some scientists believe that if fossil fuels were treated like other renewable resources (such as wind or sunlight) there would be no need for alternative energy sources because they could replace fossil fuels entirely. However, this theory does not take into account the vast amount of land required to grow enough fuel to meet the entire world's demand which would make it impossible to maintain current population sizes.
When you think about it, renewable resources such as wind and sun have been providing us with energy since before humans even knew how to use tools. They are an integral part of our daily lives but most people don't realize how much energy they consume until it's too late. For example, just by walking down the street you are using up lots of energy - mostly heat - but most people wouldn't call gasoline or diesel fuel a renewable resource.