'What You Need to Know About Energy'

By Sheril Kirshenbaum | January 21, 2010 9:05 am

Last week I participated in a three-day course on energy taught by Michael Webber at UTAustin. Very shortly, I’ll have more to say on the subject, but in the meantime, it’s a good opportunity to highlight an interesting new website from the National Academies called What You Need to Know About Energy. It’s a means to help visitors understand the ways we use energy, where it comes from, and how energy efficiency and alternative sources can figure into our energy future. The more we know, the better equipped we’ll be to engage in the ongoing debate about energy policy. Here are the details:

The site provides balanced and reliable information about our energy sources, uses, and options for the future. Take a quiz to see what you already know about energy. Explore “Our Energy System” for a quick and clear overview of the energy sources we depend on in the United States and how they are used, including what each source contributes to carbon dioxide emissions. Learn compelling facts about oil, coal, natural gas, nuclear energy, and renewable sources, such as solar and wind, including the pros and cons of each source. Compare a few cars and household appliances in “Understanding Efficiency” to see which use energy more effectively. Then rely on your new understanding of the energy situation as you make decisions about energy in your daily life, or participate in discussions about our nation’s energy options for the future.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Culture, Education, Energy, Environment

Comments (8)

  1. GM

    I see they have a section called “Emerging technologies” and it has hydrogen, oil shales, and biofuels in it. In the same time there is not a word about EROEI (Eenergy Return Of Energy Investment) or even Peak Oil.

    Which immediately means that the authors of that site are either ignorant of energy themselves or they purposefully lying

    Either case, the whole thing becomes a source of misinformation so why are you promoting it?

  2. Pete

    Speaking of peak oil, what does that term mean? When will/did it occur?

  3. GM

    If you’re asking “When will/did it occur?”, then you probably know what it means… but if you don’t, it’s the point in time at which the worldwide oil production reaches its highest ever point after which it starts declining. World oil production has been essentially flat since 2005, although the highest ever production was in August 2008 (by very little above 2005 levels though) so many people think that we have passed it. Which is a problem because it takes decades to rebuild the infrastructure around any alternative energy source, and there is actually no such source

  4. Eric the Leaf

    What GM said. Very poor website.

  5. @2 Pete,
    Peak oil is a controversial topic. US oil peaked ~1971, but the world’s production peak is debated.

  6. Eric the Leaf

    You did not answer Pete’s question. But GM was on target.

  7. Pete

    Yes she did. Thanks Sheril!


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About Sheril Kirshenbaum

Sheril Kirshenbaum is a research scientist with the Webber Energy Group at the University of Texas at Austin's Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy where she works on projects to enhance public understanding of energy issues as they relate to food, oceans, and culture. She is involved in conservation initiatives across levels of government, working to improve communication between scientists, policymakers, and the public. Sheril is the author of The Science of Kissing, which explores one of humanity's fondest pastimes. She also co-authored Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future with Chris Mooney, chosen by Library Journal as one of the Best Sci-Tech Books of 2009 and named by President Obama's science advisor John Holdren as his top recommended read. Sheril contributes to popular publications including Newsweek, The Washington Post, Discover Magazine, and The Nation, frequently covering topics that bridge science and society from climate change to genetically modified foods. Her writing is featured in the anthology The Best American Science Writing 2010. In 2006 Sheril served as a legislative Knauss science fellow on Capitol Hill with Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) where she was involved in energy, climate, and ocean policy. She also has experience working on pop radio and her work has been published in Science, Fisheries Bulletin, Oecologia, and Issues in Science and Technology. In 2007, she helped to found Science Debate; an initiative encouraging candidates to debate science research and innovation issues on the campaign trail. Previously, Sheril was a research associate at Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment and has served as a Fellow with the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation at the American Museum of Natural History and as a Howard Hughes Research Fellow. She has contributed reports to The Nature Conservancy and provided assistance on international protected area projects. Sheril serves as a science advisor to NPR's Science Friday and its nonprofit partner, Science Friday Initiative. She also serves on the program committee for the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). She speaks regularly around the country to audiences at universities, federal agencies, and museums and has been a guest on such programs as The Today Show and The Daily Rundown on MSNBC. Sheril is a graduate of Tufts University and holds two masters of science degrees in marine biology and marine policy from the University of Maine. She co-hosts The Intersection on Discover blogs with Chris Mooney and has contributed to DeSmogBlog, Talking Science, Wired Science and Seed. She was born in Suffern, New York and is also a musician. Sheril lives in Austin, Texas with her husband David Lowry. Interested in booking Sheril Kirshenbaum to speak at your next event? Contact Hachette Speakers Bureau 866.376.6591 info@hachettespeakersbureau.com For more information, visit her website or email Sheril at srkirshenbaum@yahoo.com.


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