"The presentation is even-handed and sometimes-complex concepts are well explained, offering a discussion of benefits and drawbacks, environmental impact, and issues and obstacles for each energy source." -- School Library Journal 2012.
Alternative energy sources harvest locally available energy flows from wind, sun, vegetation, garbage, and the sea. This tends to disconnect energy consumers from distant, hostile suppliers and to stabilize energy markets against ups and downs in fuel costs. However, alternative energy sources are less concentrated than fossil-fuel sources and so have technical obstacles of their own to overcome.
The energy sources considered alternative today were the only ones available throughout most of human history.
Nonrenewable fuels such as coal and petroleum only began to be widely used starting with the Industrial Revolution in the late 1700s. Some renewables, such as hydropower and wood, remained in use even after the Industrial Revolution, though their share of the energy supply dwindled. Nuclear power first became available for electricity generation in the 1950s.
The Industrial Revolution changed energy production and use. Coal was burned in vast amounts to power factories and steam engines as the economies of Europe and North America grew and developed. Later, more efficient electricity became the preferred power source, but coal still had to be burned to produce electricity in large power plants. Then in 1886, the first internal combustion engine was developed and used in an automobile. Within a few decades there was a demand for gasoline to power these engines. ...
These and many other industrial and consumer developments required vast and growing amounts of fuel. Compounding the problem in the twenty-first century is that other nations of the world such as China and India are developing burgeoning and modern industrialized economies powered by fossil fuels. (more) -- K. Lee Lerner and Brenda Wilmoth Lerner, editors. Apt, France. November, 2011