Day 149: Turn Ons

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May 28, 2012 by Alex Hoekstra

We take a lot for granted here in the first world.  Planes, trains, automobiles, sometimes buses, hospitals, schools, water, drug stores and supermarkets, Google and the lights that keep our world from stopping at sundown.  We’ve come a remarkable way from our cave-dwelling ancestors, who themselves came a remarkable way from theirs who dwelt in trees.  We’ve imagined and built, innovated, iterated and engineered solutions to problems that frankly wouldn’t have existed if we hadn’t invented them, too.  It’s rare, indeed too rare that we take a longer look at all our amenities – how they work and where they come from.  It’s easy to enjoy the outputs without really taking stock of the inputs, but it seems to me that unless we begin to look deeper at everything behind our light switches, they might not always be so easy to ignore.  Today’s project is tracing the wires proactively so that, maybe, with a greater understanding of our easy way of life, we can avoid some hard times ahead.

The WATT? An Energy 101 Primer is a digital, interactive user’s guide to understanding the electricity that powers our modern lifestyle.  With an approachable lesson plan, the mission of the project is to defeat “energy illiteracy” in hopes of recognizing solvable problems we all face.

Energy is one of the world’s largest industries, and it’s intimately intertwined with the global economy and environment. Solving our great global energy challenges should also mean solving our biggest environmental, social, health and economic challenges. Yet for all the wide-eyed, hopeful talk about building out the clean, renewable energy economy of the 21st century, there’s a serious lack of understanding about what energy actually is, how it powers our lives, what problems it causes, what problems it solves, and — perhaps most importantly — the enormous scale of our energy challenges.

In short: we need, as a society, to become more energy literate.

A nation aware is a nation better able to think and create, and to solve problems that might otherwise loom beyond our immediate field of view.  Help The WATT? turn the lights on across the world by backing it on Kickstarter before June 6.


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