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Energy Awareness Principle

The Energy Awareness Principle and six supporting concepts were developed by the CLEAN team (Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness Network) as a framework to define the scope of the energy-related teaching materials in the CLEAN collection. The CLEAN collection is well defined for climate topics by the Essential Principles of Climate Literacy an inter-agency sponsored framework, however, no official comprehensive document exists yet for teaching energy awareness.

The development of the Energy Awareness Principle and the six supporting concepts was informed by a number of different avenues:

  1. Insight from the Teaching about Energy in Geoscience Workshop run by the On the Cutting Edge professional development program for geoscience faculty,
  2. Preliminary work done by an Einstein Fellow at the Department of Energy,
  3. Insight from the Education Program at National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and
  4. Informed by the four literacy documents Atmospheric Science Literacy , Climate Literacy , Earth Science Literacy and Ocean Literacy .

The six principles were drafted and then vetted through multiple iterations among the representatives of the CLEAN partner agencies (NOAA, NREL, SERC, TERC, CIRES) and through discussion on the Climate Literacy Network .

The Principle for Energy Awareness

Being aware of the role of energy in the Earth system and human society allows us to take actions to conserve, prepare, and make informed energy choices.

A. Energy drives the Earth system. (Earth System Energy)

B. The primary sources of energy used by society are non-renewable stores sources, such as fossil fuels and nuclear, and renewable sources, such as solar, wind, hydro and biomass.(Human Energy Sources)

C. Humans' use of energy has consequences on the environment that sustains them.(Impacts of Energy Use)

D. The distribution of stored non-renewable and renewable energy sources varies around the planet, resulting in distribution and transmission costs.(Energy Distribution/Costs)

E. There are significant social, political and equity issues associated with the human use of and access to energy.(Energy Access and Equity)

F. Developing a sustainable energy supply that minimizes impacts on the environment will require informed decision-making, technological and societal innovation and improved efficiency.(Decarbonization Challenges)


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