In this post, we’ll talk about how you can make a difference by conserving non-renewable resources. If every one of us makes an effort, then collectively, we can do our part in preserving these natural resources for future generations.
Earth has bestowed a bountiful supply of non-renewable and renewable resources on humanity. These resources generate energy, power, transportation, and agricultural output.
Unfortunately, non-renewable resources are decreasing at an alarming rate. According to studies, non-renewable energy sources account for more than 80% of global energy. If we fail to shift our focus from finite, non-renewable resources, the future looks bleak.
What Are Non-renewable Resources?
Natural resources are those that exist without any human intervention. They are divided into two categories: renewable and non-renewable. Renewable resources are inexhaustible. They can never run out because they are in constant supply e.g., solar and wind energy.
Non-renewable natural resources cannot be efficiently supplied at a high enough rate to keep up with demand by natural means. As a result, non-renewable resources may become depleted or exhausted. They typically come from the ground, say carbon-based fossil fuels.
According to the US Energy Information Administration, non-renewable resources are those that “do not form or replenish in a short period of time.” They include coal, natural gas, crude oil, and nuclear energy based on uranium. Some resources like iron, silver, and gold are considered non-renewable since they take millions of years to form.
Humans regularly deplete non-renewable resources’ stockpiles, while new supplies take eons to produce. As a result, depletion is a genuine threat. Unlike renewable resources, these resources require years to refill, which replenish spontaneously and can be sustained.
Coal and crude oil reserves, for example, took billions of years to create, and replacing the supplies utilized will take billions of years. Fossil fuel material forms from organic carbon material squeezed for millions of years.
Our most commonly used energy sources, such as oil and coal, are formed through geological processes that take millions of years to actualize. Yet, we rely on them more than we do on daily replenishable sources. The world’s principal source of power is finite resources, and the ultimate cost of depletion is deplorable.
The Most Common Non-renewable Resources
Crude oil is a fossil fuel made up of organic elements like hydrocarbon deposits that occur spontaneously. It exists in liquid form in natural subterranean reservoirs. The majority of crude is used to create energy carriers such as gasoline, jet fuel, diesel, and heating oils.
Heavier oils are used to make wax, lubricants, paraffin, and tar. After harvesting, crude oil is transported to refineries, where it is processed into several types of petroleum products.
Coal is a combustible black or brownish-black sedimentary rock that is found in the form of coal seams. It is made up of plant-stored energy and takes millions of years to produce.
It is generated when organic plant matter decays into peat, which is heated and pressurized by deep burial to be transformed into coal after millions of years. Coal is rich in carbons and hydrocarbons.
Coal is divided into four types:
- Anthracite ( 86% – 97% carbon) – It’s used by the metals sector and has the highest heating value.
- Bituminous Coal (45% – 86% carbon) – Most plentiful variety in the United States and is used to generate energy as well as make iron and steel.
- Subbituminous Coal (35% – 45% carbon) – Has the lowest heating value of the four forms of coal.
- Lignite contains (25% – 35% carbon) – It is utilized to generate electricity and has the lowest energy content of the four types. It also has the highest moisture content.
Natural gas is a fossil fuel that forms deep beneath the earth’s surface. It is made up of various compounds, the most abundant one being methane. Methane, a molecule having one carbon atom and four hydrogen atoms, is primarily used as fuel to produce heat and light energy.
Natural gas also produces a wide range of chemicals, including propane, butanes, ethane, and water vapor. Equipment is utilized to drill into rock formations containing natural gas to extract natural gas.
Natural gas can be found in a variety of places:
- Huge cracks and gaps in rock formations
- Crude oil reserves
- Unconventional natural gas (shale gas) is found in small cracks inside rocks.
Although uranium is not a fossil fuel, it is a prevalent non-renewable resource. While uranium is a common metal found in rocks, U-235, the element used in nuclear fission fuel in nuclear power reactors, is an extremely rare component of uranium.
How to Conserve Non-renewable Resources
The most renowned strategy to conserve natural resources is the 3R strategy: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.
In 2015, nearly 200 countries ratified a pact in Paris aimed at decreasing carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. Part of this was reducing their reliance on fossil fuels.
In light of this, many countries implemented renewable energy into their infrastructures in the form of wind and solar energy production, green architecture, and electric vehicles.
Just like such countries, individuals also need to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels. Renewable energy sources are now accessible to everyone.
People can also reduce their need for heat and power in places that still rely heavily on fossil fuels by properly insulating and leak-proofing their homes, shutting off lights whenever possible, and utilizing energy-efficient equipment.
Manufacturing products that people use every day, such as clothing, personal appliances, and electrical gadgets, requires energy.
By reusing items around the house, you may reduce the amount of energy consumed by the manufacturing industry while also saving money. As such, reuse and repair appliances and other items or donate them to charity.
Recycling is the process of converting old things and materials into new goods rather than throwing them away. This cuts down on the number of raw materials needed and the energy required to generate them. Many multinational manufacturers make it a point to use recycled materials globally.
Individuals can participate in the game in a variety of ways as well. From metal to paper, ceramics, plastic, and glass, recycling goes a long way in reducing our reliance on non-renewable energy sources.
Our world is finite. We have a limited supply of resources to work with, and that number is declining at an alarming rate. The best way to ensure our future generations will enjoy abundant resources in the same vein as previous generations are by switching from non-renewable energy sources like coal and gas (which account for more than 80% of global energy) to renewable energy sources ones like wind power or solar panels.
By using these renewable methods, you’re not only doing your part to help save the earth but also cutting costs on electricity bills by up to 50%.
It’s time we start working together towards sustainability and stop relying solely on unsustainable practices!