Energy and Social Impacts

Energy and Social Impacts

Energy decisions are influenced by social variables, such as beliefs, values, attitudes and knowledge. Questions of ethics, morality, and social norms affect energy decision making at all levels. Social factors often involve economic, political, and environmental factors, too.

Humans are social by nature. We act in ways we believe will help us fit in with our social group. Social norms are standards of behavior shared by a particular social group (of any size) and govern how the group behaves. Individuals who wish to conform to the group typically demonstrate social norms. The actions of individual members are influenced by psychological pressures, such as how a behavior is exhibited and how the group approves/disapproves of that behavior. These norms are then enforced either by the internal feelings of the individual (positive/negative) or external group sanctions (reward/punishment).

For resources in addition to those featured below, follow these links:

Lesson Take Away: 

The true cost of energy is more than just dollars and cents, there are important social factors and consequences to consider as well.

The Ask: 

Small subgroups can transmit and maintain norms that run counter to the behaviors of the overarching society or culture. Work to make counter-culture energy conservation the new normal.

Last Updated: December 31, 2013
Just how much energy can Sun, hydropower, biomass and geothermal offer? This video sets a target of seeing whether, in principle, renewable energy resources could meet today’s global energy needs of about 15.7 terawatts. ©EARTH: The Operators Manual

Renewables Roundup—Earth: The Operators’ Manual

Just how much energy can Sun, hydropower, biomass and geothermal offer? This video sets a target of seeing whether, in principle, renewable energy resources could meet today’s global energy needs of about 15.7 terawatts.

©EARTH: The Operators Manual

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West Texas and Houston are leading the nation in wind power, and in tapping renewable energy for city government. ©EARTH: The Operators Manual

Texas: Wind and Efficiency—Earth: The Operators’ Manual

West Texas and Houston are leading the nation in wind power, and in tapping renewable energy for city government.

©EARTH: The Operators Manual

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Energy drives the modern world and underpins every other issue. We choose our energy based on four attributes: affordable, available, reliable, and clean. But clean is complicated. All energies have environmental impacts, which need to be managed...

Energy Issues—Efficiency: Switch Energy Project

Energy drives the modern world and underpins every other issue.

We choose our energy based on four attributes: affordable, available, reliable, and clean. But clean is complicated. All energies have environmental impacts, which need to be managed effectively and affordably. 

Even so, the biggest challenge of energy is scale—the enormous amount of energy we demand. The only way to counter scale, is with efficiency.

©Switch Energy Project

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Energy drives the modern world and underpins every other issue. We choose our energy based on four attributes: affordable, available, reliable and clean. But defining clean is complicated. All energies have environmental impacts that need to be...

Energy Issues—Energy Choices: Switch Energy Project

Energy drives the modern world and underpins every other issue.

We choose our energy based on four attributes: affordable, available, reliable and clean. But defining clean is complicated. All energies have environmental impacts that need to be managed effectively and affordably. Even so, the biggest challenge of energy is scale—the enormous amount of energy we demand. And the only way to counter scale, is with efficiency.

©Switch Energy Project

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In this interview with one of the most amazing pioneers in the United States, Cliff Etheredge reveals how a conservative cotton farmer helped transform northwest Texas into a wind energy capital of the world. © Switch Energy Project 

Cliff Etheredge—Wind Farmer: Switch Energy Project

In this interview with one of the most amazing pioneers in the United States, Cliff Etheredge reveals how a conservative cotton farmer helped transform northwest Texas into a wind energy capital of the world.

©Switch Energy Project 

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The U.S. electric grid has been called the largest machine in the world. It’s also one of the oldest in continuous operation. Upgrading transmission in developed countries, and building more of it elsewhere, will be expensive but necessary to reduce...

Transmission: Switch Energy Project

The U.S. electric grid has been called the largest machine in the world. It’s also one of the oldest in continuous operation. Upgrading transmission in developed countries, and building more of it elsewhere, will be expensive but necessary to reduce power loss, inefficiencies and instability, and to accommodate renewables and distributed power production—a place where governments can help.

©Switch Energy Project 

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Oil goes into myriad products that have transformed our modern world, but none so much as gasoline and diesel. They provide a level of mobility for people and products never before known, creating the first global economy, which is now so dependent on...

Oil: Switch Energy Project

Oil goes into myriad products that have transformed our modern world, but none so much as gasoline and diesel. They provide a level of mobility for people and products never before known, creating the first global economy, which is now so dependent on oil that price shocks have global impacts. A wise economic response is to diversify into other transport fuels. This could also bring environmental and political benefits.

©Switch Energy Project 

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