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America's Energy Future from the National Academies

National Academies of Sciences

This video from the U.S. National Academies summarizes the energy challenges the United States faces, the technological challenges, and the need for behavior and policy changes required to meet the challenge.

Video length: 5:42 min.

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Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

Energy Literacy

Environmental quality is impacted by energy choices.
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7.3 Environmental quality.
Increasing demand for and limited supplies of fossil fuels affects quality of life.
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7.4 Fossil fuel supplies are limited.
Humans transfer and transform energy from the environment into forms useful for human endeavors.
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4.1 Humans transfer and transform energy.
Decisions concerning the use of energy resources are made at many levels.
Other materials addressing:
5.1 Energy decisions are made at many levels.
Human demand for energy is increasing.
Other materials addressing:
6.3 Demand for energy is increasing.

Benchmarks for Science Literacy
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Different ways of obtaining, transforming, and distributing energy have different environmental consequences.
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Energy from the sun (and the wind and water energy derived from it) is available indefinitely. Because the transfer of energy from these resources is weak and variable, systems are needed to collect and concentrate the energy.
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Some resources are not renewable or renew very slowly. Fuels already accumulated in the earth, for instance, will become more difficult to obtain as the most readily available resources run out. How long the resources will last, however, is difficult to predict. The ultimate limit may be the prohibitive cost of obtaining them.
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When selecting fuels, it is important to consider the relative advantages and disadvantages of each fuel.
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Notes From Our Reviewers The CLEAN collection is hand-picked and rigorously reviewed for scientific accuracy and classroom effectiveness. Read what our review team had to say about this resource below or learn more about how CLEAN reviews teaching materials
Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy | Technical Details

Teaching Tips

About the Science

  • Good overview of the challenges and opportunities facing the United States in order to reduce carbon emissions and decarbonize society.
  • Glosses over some details such as the statement nuclear energy does not produce carbon emissions, which ignores carbon emissions involved with mining, refining, and transportation.
  • The video is emotionally loaded (especially with the dramatic music that is played during the clip). Its intent is to inspire awareness and change, not to teach science content.
  • Does not address the facts that we need a portfolio of energy sources not just nuclear and renewable energy.
  • Comments from expert scientist: The activity gives a fairly basic but comprehensive overview on the energy portfolio of the U.S. The video inserts facts and figures on the use of these energy technologies throughout the lesson. The credentials of the 3 hosts are given at the end of the lesson. Video is out-dated, and it doesn't mention fracking, which is a big topic today.

About the Pedagogy

  • Video may be used to stimulate discussion in classrooms but requires unpacking more details since the reality is not necessarily as rosy as it painted here.
  • Important to drill down more into the details of science content.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • A transcript of the video is available.

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