Separating energy fact from fiction

Sometimes it’s easy to tell when something isn’t true — like when my daughter tried to convince my husband that “mommy always lets me brush my hair with steak knives.”

Other ...

Tagged: energy solutions, renewables, science

Expand Article

Separating energy fact from fiction

Crazy scientist plays with magnets to shocking results.

Energy is a complex issue, and some scientists are concerned that trying to simplify it into one magic-bullet solution might actually hurt some of the advancements in engineering and technology that we still need to continue improving our energy mix.

Key Points

  • When something seems too good to be true, there’s probably more to the story.
  • Wine can’t replace your gym membership, and there’s no magic bullet to solve all our energy problems.
  • Hopefully, more in-depth conversations will support the technology and engineering advancements we need to find solutions. 

Sometimes it’s easy to tell when something isn’t true — like when my daughter tried to convince my husband that “mommy always lets me brush my hair with steak knives.”

Other times, it’s a little trickier to tell fact from fiction — like studies that show drinking wine has as many health benefits as going to the gym, coconut oil is poison or coffee cures cancer.

These headlines usually require more in-depth analysis to figure out what they really mean. Sure, wine might have some health benefits, but does that really mean you should trade in your gym membership for a wine of the month club (no matter how enticing that sounds)?

Studies about the future of our country’s energy mix are no exception. A popular study published a few years ago talked about how America could easily switch to 100 percent renewable energy by 2050.

The author, Mark Jacobson of Stanford, believes that we could use mostly wind and solar — and keep energy affordable — if certain political policies were changed.

Although that sounds as good as skipping the gym for a glass of wine, now many scientists have added to that conversation, questioning Jacobson’s statistics and conclusions.

Energy is a complex issue, and some scientists are concerned that trying to simplify it into one magic-bullet solution might actually hurt some of the advancements in engineering and technology that we still need to continue improving our energy mix.

Here’s an interesting article outlining Jacobson’s study and some of the questions that have come up from the scientific community — including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the International Energy Agency, and most of academia who see a need for energy diversity including nuclear, hydro, and some natural gas.

In short, always question the toddler holding a knife (who, for the record, really isn’t allowed to comb her hair with sharp objects), keep your gym membership, and read the fine print. 


Sarah FolslandSarah is mom to the two cutest little girls in the world. Before choosing to make changing diapers and reading bed time stories her full time gig, she earned a degree in political science from The University of South Dakota, worked in the governor’s office as a policy analyst and dabbled in communications at her local utility. Follow Sarah on Twitter @EnergyMommy.

Did you like this article? Here are some other articles that include: energy solutions, renewables, science