Why We Should Always Prefer To Use Renewable Natural Resources?

The Finite Nature of Nonrenewable Resources

Nonrenewable resources like oil, natural gas, and coal are finite, meaning there is a fixed amount available on Earth. We cannot make more of these resources and they do not replenish themselves on a human timescale. Once we extract and use up these nonrenewable resources, they are essentially gone.

Meanwhile, our consumption of fossil fuels continues to grow exponentially. As the global population increases and countries become more developed, the demand for nonrenewable resources is rapidly outpacing the limited supply. Studies estimate that at our current rate of consumption, oil reserves may only last another 50 years, natural gas about 55 years, and coal around 115 years.

In contrast, renewable resources like solar, wind, hydro, geothermal, and biomass energy can replenish themselves. The supply of renewable resources is virtually limitless and can meet our energy needs far into the future. Sunlight, wind, rainfall, plant growth, and heat from the earth’s crust will never run out. With renewable energy, we can transition away from the finite nonrenewable resources we’ve relied on and achieve a sustainable energy future.

Environmental Impacts of Nonrenewables

The extraction and burning of nonrenewable fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas have major negative impacts on the environment. The combustion of these fuels in power plants, vehicles, factories and homes produces polluting emissions like sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and particulate matter that degrade air quality and harm public health. Fossil fuel combustion also releases significant quantities of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, the primary greenhouse gas driving climate change.

The mining and drilling processes required to extract coal, oil and gas can also damage landscapes, forests and aquatic ecosystems. Oil spills like the Exxon Valdez and Deepwater Horizon have had devastating environmental consequences. Fracking has been linked to groundwater contamination and earthquakes. Coal mining practices like mountaintop removal have buried streams and harmed water quality.

In contrast, renewable energy sources like wind, solar and hydropower have minimal environmental impacts when developed responsibly. While no energy technology is completely free of negative effects, renewables do not pollute the air or emit greenhouse gases when generating electricity. With thoughtful siting and proper mitigation, their overall environmental footprint can be quite small.

Energy Security

Over-reliance on imported nonrenewables threatens energy supply security. Many nations import a large percentage of their fossil fuels from other countries. This leaves them vulnerable to global price shocks and supply disruptions that can damage their economies and jeopardize critical energy access. For example, the 1970s Arab Oil Embargo caused oil shortages and price spikes that triggered a recession in much of the developed world. More recently, the European Union’s dependence on imported Russian natural gas has hampered its ability to respond to aggression against Ukraine. By contrast, locally generated renewable energy from sources like wind, solar, hydroelectric, geothermal and bioenergy provides stable domestic energy production. Renewables eliminate reliance on fuel imports and increase energy independence. Nations with localized renewable energy supplies will be far more resilient in the face of global energy market instability.

Public Health

Fossil fuels like coal and natural gas emit dangerous pollutants when burned, including particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, mercury, and more. These pollutants negatively impact respiratory and cardiovascular health. Studies have shown increased hospitalizations for asthma, lung inflammation, chronic bronchitis, irregular heartbeats, and other serious conditions in areas with coal plants compared to areas without. The particulate matter produced can lodge deep in lung tissue and even enter the bloodstream.

Prolonged exposure to this pollution leads to decreased lung function, development of respiratory diseases like asthma and COPD, and increased risk of stroke, heart attack, and premature death. The minerals and toxic metals released cause environmental contamination that accumulates up the food chain. Mercury ends up in seafood and causes developmental problems in children.

On the other hand, renewable energy sources like solar, wind, and hydropower don’t emit any pollution when generating electricity. Widespread adoption of renewables will significantly reduce hazardous air pollutants and their detrimental impacts on public health.

Job Creation

The renewable energy sector has become a major source of new job creation. Studies show that dollar for dollar, renewables create far more jobs than fossil fuels. Renewable energy technologies are more labor-intensive than centralized fossil fuel plants. Constructing wind farms and solar arrays requires more workers per megawatt than building conventional power plants.

Investing in renewable energy creates jobs in manufacturing, construction, installation, operation and maintenance. It also creates indirect jobs in consulting, finance, legal, information technology and other professional services. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency, the renewable energy sector employed 11 million people worldwide in 2018.

Switching to renewables stimulates economic growth by creating new industries, new companies and new jobs. Every country can become a leader in renewable technology manufacturing and export their products worldwide. Renewables are becoming cheaper than fossil fuels, so the demand for clean energy will continue to rise. This creates enormous potential for job growth in the coming decades.

Lower Energy Costs

One of the key advantages of renewable energy is its decreasing and stabilized costs compared to conventional fossil fuels. In the last decade, the costs of solar and wind power have declined dramatically due to improvements in technology and economies of scale. The levelized cost of electricity from utility-scale solar photovoltaics decreased 88% between 2009 and 2019, while wind turbine prices have fallen 69% since 2009 according to Lazard. Renewables are now frequently less expensive than coal and gas-fired power.

Fossil fuel prices, on the other hand, can be extremely volatile as they are affected by geopolitical factors, supply and demand imbalances, market speculation, and uneven distribution of resources. The fluctuating and unpredictable prices of coal, oil and natural gas make it difficult for utilities and consumers to budget and plan long-term. Renewable energy sources provide a hedge against fossil fuel price volatility. Once the upfront capital costs of building renewable generation are accounted for, the price of renewables remains stable over time since the “fuel” itself (wind, sun, etc) is free. This allows for more consistent and predictable pricing for electricity consumers.

Mitigating Climate Change

The continued use of fossil fuels like coal, oil, and natural gas is a major driver of climate change. When burned, these nonrenewable resources emit high levels of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere. The accumulation of these gases traps heat, causing global temperatures to rise steadily.

In contrast, most renewable energy sources like solar, wind, and hydropower produce little to no greenhouse gas emissions. Widespread adoption of renewables would significantly cut emissions, helping mitigate the impacts of climate change. Models show that transitioning to 80-100% renewable energy worldwide could effectively limit global warming to under 2°C.

Renewable resources offer a clean, sustainable solution to meeting our energy needs while drastically slashing emissions. Phasing out nonrenewables for renewables will put us on track to stabilize the climate and avoid the most catastrophic climate change scenarios.

Improved Technology

Technology improvements are making renewables more efficient and widespread. Advances in solar panel efficiency, wind turbine design, and energy storage solutions are enabling renewables to compete with fossil fuels on cost. With each new technological breakthrough, renewables become more viable and attractive options.

Government policy support is also accelerating renewables growth. Tax incentives, renewable portfolio standards, and other policies provide a favorable landscape for renewable energy development. As governments continue to prioritize clean energy in policymaking, renewables are gaining market share and seeing rapid capacity builds.

Global Energy Transition

Many countries around the world are setting ambitious renewable energy targets and policies to phase out fossil fuels. The European Union aims to generate 32% of its energy from renewables by 2030. China plans to invest $360 billion in renewable power generation by 2020 and is the world’s largest producer of solar energy. Major developing economies like India are also rapidly building renewable capacity to meet rising energy demands sustainably.
wind turbines are increasingly being used as a renewable energy source around the world.

Large corporations are also investing heavily in renewables to meet sustainability goals. Google has pledged to power its operations entirely with clean energy and invested over $2.5 billion in renewables. Amazon has funded numerous wind and solar farms to supply its data centers and operations with renewable power. Walmart plans to be supplied 100% by renewable sources and is already one of America’s largest corporate users of solar energy. The business case for renewables is strengthening as prices fall.

The Future is Renewable

Renewable energy sources like solar, wind, geothermal and hydroelectric are the sustainable and responsible choices to power our future. As nonrenewable sources like oil, coal and natural gas get used up and become more expensive, renewable energy is becoming more affordable and accessible. Phasing out our dependence on polluting fossil fuels and transitioning to clean renewables is critical if we want to protect the planet and create an equitable, sustainable future.

The costs of renewable power generation have dropped dramatically in recent years while their efficiency continues to improve. Renewables are now the cheapest form of new electricity production across large parts of the world. With supportive policies and continued innovation, renewable energy could reliably and affordably provide 80% or more of our global electricity needs within the next few decades.

By committing to phasing out carbon-intensive fossil fuels that damage the climate and transitioning rapidly to renewable energy sources, we can build thriving economies powered by clean, inexhaustible energy. The future is renewable if we choose to make it so.

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