What Is Energy?

Energy provides the driving force of life. What exactly does that mean? Every day as you carry out your normal activities, you depend on energy to help you accomplish your tasks as well as to allow you to maintain your standard of living. An act as simple as flipping on a light switch requires energy use, production, and distribution pathways which we all take for granted. The modernization of society has brought about increased demands on energy sources and production. Societies with limited access to energy resources are significantly hindered from industrialization and economic growth. You can easily see why the study of energy is important. Just about everything you do and consume requires a source of energy.

Think about some of the activities you carry out every day and things you consume that require energy to make possible or produce:

turn off your alarm clockread books buyfood at the store
jump in the showeruse your computerget a new CD
use the microwavewatch a moviemail a letter
listen to the radiogo out to lunchtake a trip in a plane
drive to schooluse the telephonego water skiing
turn on the lightsturn on the A/Crollerblade

From an economic standpoint, energy is a hot topic! Continual debates occur about which is the "best" energy source, with considerations of availability and cost of the resource, efficiency of production, public safety, health, and marketing. Policy makers must grapple with these decisions as well as the consequences of the energy source they choose. In addition to economic issues, environmental concerns about global warming, acid rain, and radioactive waste influence the energy policies around the world. Understanding energy means understanding resources, their limitations, and the environmental consequences of their use.

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