A non-renewable resource (also called a finite resource) is a
Conversely, resources such as
Earth minerals and metal ores
Earth minerals and metal ores are examples of non-renewable resources. The metals themselves are present in vast amounts in Earth's crust, and their extraction by humans only occurs where they are concentrated by natural geological processes (such as heat, pressure, organic activity, weathering and other processes) enough to become economically viable to extract. These processes generally take from tens of thousands to millions of years, through plate tectonics, tectonic subsidence and crustal recycling.
The localized deposits of metal ores near the surface which can be extracted economically by humans are non-renewable in human time-frames. There are certain
Natural resources such as coal, petroleum (crude oil) and natural gas take thousands of years to form naturally and cannot be replaced as fast as they are being consumed. Eventually it is considered that fossil-based resources will become too costly to harvest and humanity will need to shift its reliance to other sources of energy such as solar or wind power, see renewable energy.
An alternative hypothesis is that carbon based fuel is virtually inexhaustible in human terms, if one includes all sources of carbon-based energy such as methane hydrates on the sea floor, which are vastly greater than all other carbon based fossil fuel resources combined. These sources of carbon are also considered non-renewable, although their rate of formation/replenishment on the sea floor is not known. However their extraction at economically viable costs and rates has yet to be determined.
At present, the main energy source used by humans is non-renewable
The modern-day fossil fuel economy is widely criticized for its lack of renewability, as well as being a contributor to climate change.
In 1987, the
The use of
As of 2013 only a few kilograms (picture available) of uranium have been extracted from the ocean in
Nuclear power provides about 6% of the world's energy and 13–14% of the world's electricity.
Issues entirely separate from the question of the sustainability of nuclear fuel, relate to the use of nuclear fuel and the high-level radioactive waste the nuclear industry generates that if not properly contained, is
Land surface can be considered both renewable and non-renewable resource depending on the scope of comparison.
The production of goods and services by
In the natural environment water, forests, plants and animals are all renewable resources, as long as they are adequately monitored, protected and conserved. Sustainable agriculture is the cultivation of plant and animal materials in a manner that preserves plant and animal ecosystems and that can improve soil health and soil fertility over the long term. The overfishing of the oceans is one example of where an industry practice or method can threaten an ecosystem, endanger species and possibly even determine whether or not a fishery is sustainable for use by humans. An unregulated industry practice or method can lead to a complete resource depletion.
The renewable energy from the sun, wind, wave, biomass and geothermal energies are based on renewable resources. Renewable resources such as the movement of water (hydropower, tidal power and wave power), wind and radiant energy from geothermal heat (used for geothermal power) and solar energy (used for solar power) are practically infinite and cannot be depleted, unlike their non-renewable counterparts, which are likely to run out if not used sparingly.
The potential wave energy on coastlines can provide 1/5 of world demand. Hydroelectric power can supply 1/3 of our total energy global needs. Geothermal energy can provide 1.5 more times the energy we need. There is enough wind to power the planet 30 times over, wind power could power all of humanity's needs alone. Solar currently supplies only 0.1% of our world energy needs, but there is enough out there to power humanity's needs 4,000 times over, the entire global projected energy demand by 2050.
Renewable energy and energy efficiency are no longer niche sectors that are promoted only by governments and environmentalists. The increasing levels of investment and that more of the capital is from conventional financial actors, both suggest that sustainable energy has become mainstream and the future of energy production, as non-renewable resources decline. This is reinforced by climate change concerns, nuclear dangers and accumulating radioactive waste, high oil prices, peak oil and increasing government support for renewable energy. These factors are commercializing renewable energy, enlarging the market and growing demand, the adoption of new products to replace obsolete technology and the conversion of existing infrastructure to a renewable standard.
In economics, a non-renewable resource is defined as
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Officials now use the deadly history of the Yangtze, China's longest river, to justify the country's riskiest and most controversial infrastructure project – the enormous Three Gorges Dam.and Grant, Stan (18 June 2005). "Global Challenges: Ecological and Technological Advances Around the World". CNN. Retrieved 28 March 2009.
China's engineering marvel is unleashing a torrent of criticism. [...] When it comes to global challenges, few are greater or more controversial than the construction of the massive Three Gorges Dam in Central China.and Gerin, Roseanne (11 December 2008). "Rolling on a River". Beijing Review. Archived from the original on 22 September 2009. Retrieved 28 March 2009.
..the 180-billion yuan ($26.3 billion) Three Gorges Dam project has been highly contentious.
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