What Are Sustainable Resources?
Sustainable resources are resources that can be used indefinitely without depleting them. This includes sunlight, air, water, and more.
Sustainable natural resources can also include renewable energy sources, healthy soil, and forests.
They’re essential to human survival because they’re renewable, abundant, and replenishable.
The term natural resources refer to anything derived from nature. That includes water, air, soil, plants, animals, minerals, energy, food, etc.
But not all natural resource is sustainable.
What Makes A Resource Sustainable?
“Sustainable” means that the resources can be used indefinitely. And without causing damage or threatening the ability of future generations to use them.
Sustainable resources are those that are renewable and managed responsibly.
Renewable resources include energy sources such as solar power, wind power, hydroelectricity, and geothermal energy. They are resources that can be replenished without any problem.
Managed responsibly means that these resources are used in ways that protect the environment and human health.
Resources become sustainable if we can make or get as much as we need and replenish the resources again for present and future use without any damage to nature.
A natural resource can be renewable yet not sustainable if we mismanage or misuse it.
Natural resources can both be renewable and non-renewable. They can also be sustainable and not sustainable. It all depends on how we use them.
Examples Of Sustainable Resources
Sunlight Or Solar Energy
Sunlight is a free resource. The sun provides us with free sunlight. We just need to capture it and process it for energy generation.
Solar power is clean, renewable, abundant, and versatile.
There are as many gadgets as there are ways to use solar energy from sunlight.
The fact that we can use it anywhere as long as there is sunlight is both a pro and a con. Our ability to use this type of power depends heavily on the weather.
We can use solar power from generating energy to power a whole household to simply charging phones.
However, solar power is still expensive compared to traditional electricity sources. Fortunately, costs continue to decline. In addition, the initial cost of solar panels will lead to more energy bill savings in the long term.
Air Or Wind Energy
Like sunlight, we have free air that we can convert into power.
Energy from air or wind is clean and renewable, too.
Wind turbines generate electricity from the force of moving air.
They’re great because they use no fuel, emit no pollution, and provide energy.
But there are some drawbacks to wind power.
First, the wind doesn’t blow 24/7, so you need to build enough wind turbines to make the most of the wind.
Next, wind turbines take up valuable land space. Wind turbines are generally big structures.
Finally, wind turbines are expensive to install and maintain.
Water Or Hydro Energy/ Hydropower
Hydropower is the most widely used renewable source of electricity today. It is basically the energy of water converted to useable energy.
Hydroelectric power plants use the force of moving water to generate electricity.
This dam hydropower uses dams to create reservoirs. Dams store water during periods of low rainfall.
Then, when there’s heavy rain, the dam releases the stored water. Those go through turbines to spin generators.
Hydropower is a great alternative to fossil fuels because it doesn’t pollute our air or land.
And unlike wind and solar power, we have access to energy from hydroelectricity 24/7.
As with other resources, it’s not perfect.
Hydroelectricity does require large tracts of land. It means building dams may not be possible in some locations.
The amounts of energy from hydroelectricity generated also depend on where you live. Some areas receive very little precipitation, making hydroelectricity impractical.
Wood is a renewable resource that burns cleanly and efficiently. Landfills are basically bottomless.
Biomass energy systems use wood and landfill waste, among others, to generate electricity.
They’re environmentally friendly because they reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Although the process is burning substances, the process of generating biomass energy doesn’t produce carbon dioxide emissions.
They offset that by planting plants. Doing that eliminates an equal amount of carbon dioxide. That brings balance to nature and prevents harm to the environment.
Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe. But it doesn’t exist naturally as is.
There are many ways to produce hydrogen, including electrolysis and chemical reactions.
The most common method of producing hydrogen is through electrolysis. It is where electricity splits water molecules into oxygen and hydrogen gas. This process produces no waste and uses only water and electricity.
Hydrogen energy is the cleanest form of energy available today. And because it’s clean, it gives no pollution when used as fuel.
Geothermal energy is the thermal energy (heat) from deep within the Earth.
Geothermal energy is a renewable source of clean energy that uses the Earth’s own thermal energy to generate electricity.
Geothermal energy is considered a sustainable alternative to fossil fuels. It does not pollute our atmosphere and produces no greenhouse gases. It is also cheaper than coal, natural gas, and oil.
However, there are still many challenges facing geothermal energy development.
One challenge is finding ways to efficiently extract the heat from deep underground sources. Another challenge is developing technologies that can withstand extreme temperatures.
Marine Energy Or Hydrokinetic Energy
Hydrokinetic energy is the kinetic energy generated from the ocean.
It is generated naturally through tides, ocean currents, wave action, and even ocean temperature differences.
It is a resource with so much potential as about 71% of the Earth’s surface is covered with water, of which 96.5 % is covered by the ocean.
Vegetation And Animal Life
The world is full of plant life and animals, and they are essential in our everyday lives.
We eat them and use them for clothing, shelter, medicine, transportation, even entertainment, and many other things.
Vegetation and animal life plays a vital role in the continuation of life on our planet.
They’re sustainable because we can plant as we harvest and breed as we capture.
The downside of this resource is that the process of caring for and getting vegetation and animals can cause pollution when done irresponsibly. That involves the soil, water, and air.
Some illegal practices like deforestation can even cause the loss of other valuable resources.
And the methane from animal wastes can cause more environmental issues rather than the resource being used as urgent action to combat climate change.
What Are The Benefits Of Using Sustainable Natural Resources?
Let’s answer this question in terms of sustainability. Sustainability is about how much damage our actions do to the environment over time.
We want to reduce the amount of pollution in our air, water, soil, and atmosphere.
These pollutants come in many forms, including greenhouse gases and smog. Greenhouse gases trap heat in Earth’s atmosphere causing global warming. Smog traps particulate matter in the air and causes respiratory problems.
The good news is that renewable resources are clean and safe compared to non-renewable ones.
Renewables include solar, wind, biomass (like wood), geothermal, and hydroelectric power.
Fossil fuels such as coal, petroleum, and natural gas are finite resources. They take millions of years to form. They pollute the air and land while releasing dangerous amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
Renewable resources are virtually infinite.
As long as there is sunlight, wind, rain, or snow falling, there will always be a supply of clean and renewable energy.
In contrast, non-renewable resources like coal, petroleum, and nuclear power are limited. They deplete quickly. Once used up, they cannot be replenished.
Why Aren’t We Using Only Sustainable Natural Resources?
Fossil fuels power 80% of the world’s energy needs currently.
If it’s so bad for us, why aren’t we using only sustainable natural resources?
Fossil fuels are cheaper than sustainable energy sources.
They’re also more reliable. As mentioned above, lots of sustainable types of power depend on natural phenomena like the weather, which we can’t control.
A sustainable source of energy is still not the best for as of the moment, at least not just using one.
Thus, making the switch from fossil fuels to renewable energy could take decades and cost trillions of dollars. This makes it seem like a daunting challenge.
As mentioned, making the switch from fossil fuels to renewable energy could take decades. But there are still many things we can do in the meantime to lead a more sustainable life.
What’s important is that we do what we can and start now.
Because the Earth matters as much as our needs, if not more.