Natural ResourcesWhich are renewable?Which are nonrenewable?By Moira Whitehouse PhD
Let’s first look at what makes a resourcerenewable or nonrenewable.Renewable resources are those that canbe replaced in a short amount of time.Nonrenewable resources are those thatcannot be replaced in a short amount oftime.
Let’s consider these natural resources:Rocks, animals, plants, soil, clean water,crude oil, coal, natural gas, oxygen inthe air?Which of these natural resources can bereplaced in a short amount of time andwhich cannot?
What about plants? They undergo a lifecycle. Most produce seeds and are replacedevery year. They can be replaced in shortamount of time.Animals also reproduce through a life cycle.Some animals such as mice take a few weeksto form before being born. Others likeelephants develop within their mothers fortwo years before they are born. A fewweeks to two years is also a pretty shortamount of time.
Water can never be made again but it can be“replaced” (cleaned) by nature. The mainway nature cleans dirty water in through thewater cycle.When water evaporates, it leaves all the“dirty” stuff that was dissolved in it behind.As a result, the water that falls as rain, snowor sleet is pure clean water.The water that evaporates from the oceansand lakes generally returns to the land asprecipitation within a few weeks—really ashort amount of time.
Now what about the oxygen in the air thatwe need to survive?Plants take in carbon dioxide and replace itwith oxygen in a very short period of time,probably seconds.
So far we established that animals, plants,oxygen and water can be replaced in ashort amount of time.Therefore, we can say that animals, plants,oxygen and water are alla. nonrenewable resourcesb. renewable resources
What about soil?Remember soil is formed through theweathering and erosion of rocks.The United States Department of Agriculturesays that it takes about 1,000 years to makean inch of soil.One thousand years seems like a longtime.
Before we decide whether soil is a renewableor nonrenewable resource let us look at howlong it takes for fossil fuels and the minerals inrocks to form.The three fossilfuels--crude oil, coaland natural gas--take millions ofyears to form fromthe remains ofplants and animals.
It appears that Earth was created from mineralsthat may have been formed billions of years agowhen a “dying” star exploded. From these mineralswe get many useful things like metals and sheetrock.
So although one thousand years seems likea long time, compared to millions andbillions of years, it is a relatively shortperiod of time.As a result, soil is considered a renewableresource—one that is replaced in a shortperiod of time.On the other hand, minerals in rocks andfossil fuels would be considereda. renewable resourcesb. nonrenewable resources
So what are the natural resources About 1,000 years to that can be make one inch replaced in a relatively short amount of time ?And what are the ones that cannot be replacedin a relatively short amount of time or at all?
Notice that the renewable resources are allrenewed through a cycle:•plant life cycle•animal life cycle•water cycle•carbon-dioxide oxygen cycle•rock to soil back to rock cycle
Carbon dioxide and oxygen are part of thecarbon cycle in which• plants take in carbon dioxide andgive off oxygen and• animals take in oxygen and give offcarbon dioxideCarbon dioxideto oxygen backto carbondioxide
Rock can be weathered and changed to soil.Sometimes soil that is deposited in water canbe changed into sedimentary rock. Rock to soil Soil to rock
Water in the oceans and lakes evaporates,condenses as clouds and falls back to Earthas rain, snow or sleet. Water cycle This is one way nature cleans our water. library.thinkquest.org
So all of the renewable resources occurin cycles that allow them to berenewed in a relatively short amountof time—plants, animals, oxygen in theair, water and soil.
Place the resources in the correct category:coal, beans, copper, gold, cattle, naturalgas, soil, water, crude oil, oxygen.Renewable Resources Nonrenewable Resources beans coal cattle copper soil gold water natural gas oxygen crude oil
In conclusion, which of these is a truestatement: a. Everything we use comes from naturalresources.b. A few things we use come from naturalresources.c. Many things we use come from naturalresources.d. None of the things we use comes fromnatural resources.