Why Should We Care?

Energy and water are inherently related to every significant challenge of the 21st century from climate change and national security to food production and transportation. Still, the term can be ambiguous because “energy” and “water” are not subjects studied in school like mathematics or history. We go about our lives expecting water to be readily available, cars to run when we start the ignition, and apps to download at the push of a button. Energy is fundamental to how we live and who we are, yet most of us remain in the dark about how and why it all happens.

Unfortunately, results of the UT Energy Poll—a nationally representative survey from the University of Texas at Austin—highlight an enormous disconnect between energy and the public. In 2016, very few Americans are aware of which countries supply most of our foreign oil. Likewise, the majority remain unfamiliar with the term hydraulic fracturing, a technology that’s currently reshaping the global energy landscape. Meanwhile, humans are depleting water aquifers around the world at an alarming rate leading to severe droughts, food shortages, increased conflicts, and new energy challenges. Each of these examples has enormous socio-economic and geopolitical consequences, but a disinterested and disengaged populace cannot participate in the conversation.

Why should we care? Public engagement matters tremendously because our attitudes define global energy and water priorities and shape policy decisions. To be informed as voters and consumers, it’s important to pay attention.

Complicating matters, new technological breakthroughs in the energy and water sectors must be balanced with national security concerns, environmental impacts, and financial impacts. In other words, the energy-water nexus is not only complex but also multidisciplinary. Developing a comprehensive understanding involves delving into engineering, policy, biotechnology, geoscience, and more.

The digital interactive curriculum of Resourcefulness does just that in an easy to digest manner that’s comfortable, relatable, interesting, and fun. This first-of-its kind educational app will help students understand and articulate not just the science and business of energy and water, but the political, technical, and social issues involved in finding critical solutions to our most pressing energy needs.

Resourcefulness acts as a hub for tackling practical energy and water questions that involve subjects like consumption, smart grids, renewables, waste, and more. It highlights how the two sectors have changed in recent decades while acknowledging complex global challenges ahead.

—Sheril Kirshenbaum

Image Credits: ILYA AKINSHIN/Shutterstock.com.

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