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The Politics of Energy Resources: Conservation, Efficiency, & Renewable Energy Video

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  • 0:01 Energy Conservation…
  • 1:30 Energy Conservation
  • 1:59 Energy Efficiency
  • 2:33 Move Towards Renewable Energy
  • 5:18 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jason Nowaczyk
The following lesson addresses the global dependence on non-renewable sources of energy and the politics behind trying to move towards renewable sources. A short quiz will follow the lesson to check your understanding.

Energy Conservation vs. Efficiency

A phenomenon that's gaining in popularity is that of competitive eating. In fact, every Fourth of July in the United States there is a world-famous hot dog eating contest. If you've ever seen this competition, you might think to yourself, how in the world do they eat so many hot dogs? Well, a conservative eater paces his eating so that he doesn't put too much into his stomach at one time, or else, chances are, that food won't stay in the stomach for very long. However, the competitive eater also has to be efficient in how he eats. For an efficient eater, it's not all about just stuffing hot dogs in your mouth; rather, there are certain techniques competitive eaters use to eat as many hot dogs as possible. One such method is by dipping the buns in water so that they are easier to swallow.

Energy conservation and energy efficiency are not only important topics for competitive eaters, they are also important when discussing our reliance on the Earth's natural resources. There is currently a worldwide demand for energy sources. The International Energy Agency even predicts that the world will be using 50% more oil, which generates most of our energy, by 2030. Thus, it is important to first understand the difference between energy conservation and energy efficiency, and then address the renewable energy strategies for shifting the globe's focus off of non-renewable resources, like oil.

Energy Conservation

Energy conservation is the act of saving energy by reducing a service. In other words, to conserve energy, you need to cut back on your usage. Simple examples might include turning off the lights when you leave a room, driving your car less and taking public transportation more, or by buying a programmable thermostat that can regulate the temperature of your house. Or in our competitive eater example, remember that a conservative eater only eats as many hot dogs as his stomach can hold.

Energy Efficiency

Energy efficiency, on the other hand, is defined as saving energy but keeping the same level of service. For example, if you turn off the lights when you leave a room, you are practicing energy conservation. If you replace an inefficient incandescent light bulb with a more efficient compact fluorescent bulb, you are practicing energy efficiency. Or in our competitive eater example, remember that an efficient eater looks for ways to get the hot dogs in his stomach in the best way possible; for instance, by dunking them in cups of water.

Move Towards Renewable Energy

Currently, the majority of the Earth's energy comes from a nonrenewable, or non-replaceable, source in the form of oil (and not hot dogs). Oil has also become more than being just a physical commodity and is now also a heavily influential financial asset. Most of the world's oil companies are also state controlled, and so oil prices are often used as an instrument of coercive diplomacy to influence the actions of other countries.

This, paired with the fact that the amount of oil that the Earth has will someday run out, has led to the search for renewable, or replaceable, sources of energy. Thus, the shift has been towards natural resource conservation, cutting back on the amount of oil that the globe consumes, while also looking towards more efficient sources, ones that are renewable, to help wean ourselves off the sole reliance on oil. Technologies that derive energy from the sun, wind, water, and nuclear and chemical reactions are examples of renewable energy strategies.

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