The 20th century was without doubt the age of fossil fuels—oil, in particular. Fossils had been excavated almost throughout the entire history of humanity, but it is the 20th century which brought the scales of the excavation to the limit. Gasoline for vehicles, aircraft, and vessels, fuel for space flights and war machines, heating systems—all this and much more works on fossil fuel, even in 2017.
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However, since the first studies proving that the utilization of fossil fuels makes a huge part of the global warming process, there have been talks about not only regulating its usage, but also about seeking for alternatives to oil, gas, and other sources of energy popular nowadays. Such alternatives are usually called with a generalized term “renewable sources of energy,” meaning that unlike fossil fuels (which are gradually depleting, and are expected to become exhausted completely by the end of the current century) these new sources will constantly replenish themselves.
There are two terms in regard to the subject which are regularly used nowadays: alternative energy, and renewable energy. The former is a more generalized term, used to describe any energy source that is different from traditional fossil fuels, and which cause little-to-no negative impact on the environment. In its turn, the term “renewable energy” refers to energy generated with the help of the forces of nature: sun, water, wind, biomass, the inner heat of the Earth (geothermal energy), and so on (PennState Extension). Renewable energy is based not on depletable material, but rather on natural processes that cannot readily disappear if made use of. For example, solar energy is something everyone around the globe has access to; the Sun shines for billion of years with almost the same stability, and it is unlikely that generating energy from its heat and light can do any harm to the star itself. The same goes for windmills, watermills, and so on: instead of working on matter, alternative sources of energy make use of how the wind blows, or how the water flows, and thus cause much less harm to the environment, and do not exhaust natural resources.
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