Pub. date: 2008 | Online Pub. Date: May 28, 2008 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412963930 | Print ISBN: 9781412941655 | Online ISBN: 9781412963930| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Richard R. Pardi
Nonrenewable resources are all those materials and energy sources consumed by our industrial society at a rate that exceeds the rate at which natural processes can renew those resources. This contrasts with renewable resources such as food and timber, which, presumably can be replaced continuously at the same rate as they are used up. Almost exclusively, these nonrenewable resources come from the Earth and from processes that operate within the Earth. Therefore, nonrenewable resources are essentially the same as Earth resources. Included among nonrenewable resources are such things as metallic and nonmetallic minerals, fossil fuels, and clean, fresh water. Humans have a voracious appetite for every possible resource, but relative demands for any particular resource fluctuate with desire and need. Social, economic, and political factors that are not entirely predictable need to be balanced against our incomplete understanding of Earth processes. Shifts in technology or fads can turn a renewable ...