What is the difference between renewable and nonrenewable resources?

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gojsawyer | Teacher | (Level 1) Assistant Educator

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Considering the difference between renewable and nonrenewable resources is one of the key questions of modern times. Many would argue that how humans chose to act upon usage of renewable vs. nonrenewable resources may impact the future of planet Earth for generations. Conversely, the decisions of generations prior, many would also argue, impact the global climate in the present day.

As such, nonrenewable resources consumed for fuel such as coal, oil, and natural gas cannot be replaced once they are depleted. As so-called “fossil fuels,” they were formed over time from the decay of natural materials deep below the surface of the Earth. For the most part, they are extracted by means such as drilling or fracking, a process that has become somewhat controversial in recent years.

For at least a decade, the race has been on to reduce dependence on nonrenewable resources and, instead, rely upon renewable resources. Renewable resources can be replaced over time or exist in abundance. Such sources include wind, solar, and water.

Many resources are available that not only define types of sources of energy, but also debate issues relative to considering how to use renewable vs. nonrenewable resources. A few are included below.

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