I believe that from way back the Ancient Greeks would of have thought about the cycle of nature and how we fit into it. Whether I am correct in that believe or not, it doesn't seem that strange that we put 2 and 2 together and made 4, and when it comes to what you sow you reap. Got the picture?
So it follows that if you start using something that you dig up from the ground you might work out over time, how it got there, and how you might replace it.
Carbon is an amazing element. It effectively absorbs the sunlight and we get to release it either within a few years or as in the case of Oil, Coal, and Gas millions of years later. We have been pulling Carbon out of the ground for at least a hundred years, and long before that, we cut down trees to burn. We must of known early on how these deposits of Carbon had been saved for our use. We may not of known how to replace them exactly as they are found, but we could work out how to save something similar. Trees are an obvious choice, however now we are really wanting to replenish our used energy store, we are going directly to the sorce i.e. solar.
If we had used the principle of what you sow you reap, we should of been finding ways of replenishing our energy use for the last 50 years. I wonder how many other things we are missing out on, just because we can't think out side the consumption box.