Pub. date: 2008 | Online Pub. Date: April 25, 2008 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412963893 | Print ISBN: 9781412958783 | Online ISBN: 9781412963893| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Alternative Energy, Overview
Christopher D. Merrett
WE USE ENERGY to grow our food, power our vehicles, and run the appliances in our homes, schools, and workplaces. Over the past two centuries, industrial societies have used inexpensive, and readily available, sources of energy to fuel urbanization and economic development. This growth has created, at least in some countries, the highest level of human development in the history of civilization. A question to ponder, though, is if this level of development can be sustained indefinitely. Many of the great civilizations of the past declined, at least in part, due to environmental change caused by human activities. Starting in the late 18th century with the Industrial Revolution, the global economy has increasingly relied on fossil fuels such as coal, petroleum, and natural gas. In the future, the global economy will run out of these fuels. In the meantime, some scientists argue that dependence on fossil fuels has contributed to ...