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There’s no such thing as a free megawatt: Hydrofracking as a Gateway Drug to Energy Literacy

A brief introduction to the Marcellus Shale and the broader energy system

Don Haas

on 18 October 2017

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Transcript of There’s no such thing as a free megawatt: Hydrofracking as a Gateway Drug to Energy Literacy

Think about this. We'll come back to it shortly.
Natural Gas 36%
Other renewables 3.5%
Petroleum 1.5%
There’s No Such
Thing as a Free Megawatt:
Hydrofracking as a Gateway Drug
to Energy

Key Ideas
and a key question:
My State's Electricity:
For most of the last twenty years, the top two sources of electricity in New York State have effectively been tied for first place. In 2008, each produced about 31% of the state's electricity.

Identify the top two sources for your state this list:
My state's two largest electricity sources are:

Natural gas
Other renewables
The Marcellus Shale and its natural gas cannot be understood without understanding the larger energy system.
Our energy system is in constant flux.
All large-scale energy production has negative environmental impacts.
Which is more important? Where energy comes from or how much energy we use?
Don Duggan-Haas, Ph.D.
PRI, its Museum of the Earth, &
its Cayuga Nature Center
Ithaca, NY

1/2 the CO2 emissions of coal.
1/2 the CO2 emissions of coal.
Methane leaks & is a potent GHG.
Methane burns cleaner than coal or oil.
Boom - bust economic cycle
Complexifying the Seemingly Simple.

With support from the National Science Foundation.
This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under grant No. 1035078.

Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
Why all the new natural gas at the turn of the century?
Almost all the really old plants that are still online are hydro.
More power came online in 2008, 2009, and 2011 from wind than from any other source.
But coal is still in the picture.
Most US nuclear plants came online between the late 1960s and early 1990s.
Most coal fired power plants are more than 30 years old.
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Form EIA-860 Annual Electric Generator Report , and Form EIA-860M (see Table ES3 in the March 2011 Electric Power Monthly)
Note: Data for 2010 are preliminary. Generators with online dates earlier than 1930 are predominantly hydroelectric. Data include non-retired plants existing as of year-end 2010. This chart shows the most recent (summer) capacity data for each generator. However, this number may change over time, if a generator undergoes an uprate or derate.
2009 data
petroleum: 2%
natural gas: 24%
nuclear: 18%
hydroelectric: 7.1%
other renewables: 1.2%
pumped storage: 0.3%
other: 0.2%
natural gas
natural gas
Electric Power Net Generation by State
for selected states (2009 & 2010)
Other gases includes blast furnace gas, propane gas, and other manufactured and waste gases derived from fossil fuels.

Other includes non-biogenic municipal solid waste, batteries, chemicals, hydrogen, pitch, purchased steam, sulfur, tire-derived fuels and miscellaneous technologies.

Other renewables includes biogenic municipal solid waste, wood, black liquor, other wood waste, landfill gas, sludge waste, agriculture byproducts, other biomass, solar thermal, photovoltaic energy, and wind.
The Robert Moses
Power Plant at Niagara Falls came online in 1961, replacing the Schoellkopf Power Plant that collapsed into the Niagara Gorge in 1956. The Robert Moses Plant is responsible for most of this bump in the graph.
Why isn't there much in the way of new hydro?
A key piece of the reason is a lawsuit filed by states in the Northeast against Midwestern states over acid rain. The settlement led to the replacing coal generation with natural gas.
Traditional hydropower requires flooding valleys or gorges and destroys habitats for both human and wildlife habitat. Hydropower plants have been taken offline in recent decades to restore habitats.
Parts of the energy system are changing rapidly.
portfolios vary substantially
across regions and across time.
Water usage & water pollution possibilities.
It's not coal.
It requires the building of infrastructure that continues reliance on fossil fuels.
Industrializes rural landscapes
All large scale energy development ndustrializes landscapes
If you
use less energy
it doesn't matter as much where it comes from.
What are the environmental costs and benefits of emergent energy sources?
In the coming decades, more energy is likely come to your home from local sources and they will have environmental consequences.
The daily amount of energy used in the United States, per person, is about as much energy as....

100 watt lightbulb left on for 103 days straight
707 quarter-pound hamburgers
Half a tank of gasoline (7 gallons)
All of the above

Lot's of useful stuff here:

Natural Gas
Other Gases
Hydroelectric Conventional

Other Renewables
Solar Thermal and Photovoltaic
Wood and Wood Derived Fuels
Other Biomass
Pumped Storage

Where does electricity come from?
For the sake of time, we'll look at just the biggest piece.
How do we make sense of the costs and benefits of all that?
Current energy practices have costs too.
Let's look at it.
A good book for thinking about climate change...
...that we can adapt approaches from for thinking about energy.
Let's look at a more detailed picture...
Explore the data in Excel.
What's the worst that could happen in relation to different energy sources?
A specific set of considerations related to natural gas extraction from the Marcellus Shale:
Many Americans heat their homes and the hot water within their homes with natural gas. A growing portion of our electricity also comes from natural gas.
Where should that gas come from?
Or, should we stop heating our air and water and generating electricity with natural gas?
If we do stop these practices, what should we do instead?
Who is paying the environmental cost for our current energy habits?
Who would pay the costs if the resource is developed?
What environmental and economic costs will come due at a later date?
Questions to consider for any energy source:
What are the environmental costs and benefits of current energy practices?
For the current practice and for the proposed development, what happens to the environment at the point of extraction?
What wastes are generated and disposed of away from the point of extraction?
What happens to the environment as a result of use?
Per unit of energy generated, how do these impacts compare for the different energy sources being considered? (This may be a comparison of a proposed or new source to current practice.)
Which is greater, the cost of development or the cost of efficiency measures? Stated another way, in the consideration of developing a source that provides 45MW hours/year, would it be more beneficial (or more costly) to reduce consumption by 45 MW hours/year instead?
These questions generally frame the issue as a choice between developing a new energy source and maintaining current practice. There are more than two choices.
What other options exist?
Are they being seriously considered?
Are they practical? Why or why not?
Click here for more pointed questions to consider for any energy source:
Are accidents known to kill or injure people? Consider extraction, transit, and use. How does the death and injury rate compare to other sources per unit of energy?
Does standard use alter the environment in ways known to kill or injure people? How does the death and injury rate compare to other sources per unit of energy?
Are there political costs or benefits associated with this energy source? Is the military involved in the protection of this resource?
Greg Craven, author of What's the Worst That Could Happen, on climate change. Consider how to adapt the argument to new energy sources.
In the NSTA presentation, I opened an Excel spreadsheet I'd previously downloaded from the EIA website and graphed a few things. You can do the same.
In terms of energy production: One big nuclear power plant = 3000 big wind turbines =
50 sq. mi. of PV
Which has the worst environmental impact?
What's the wisest thing to do given the uncertainties and the risk?
(just the first
few minutes)
Enron played a role too.
The Museum of the Earth provides scientific information about unconventional drilling in the Marcellus Shale.
In our outreach related to the Marcellus Shale, the Museum of the Earth will not take a position supporting or opposing drilling in the Marcellus Shale. A fundamental goal of our work is to provide evidence-based information and to build understanding of the science related to the Shale, the extraction techniques employed in gas recovery from the Shale, and associated environmental impacts. Project partners also help nurture understandings of the economic and cultural impacts of decisions related to Marcellus Shale development. We strive to do this work with as little bias as possible.

More information about our Marcellus Shale outreach efforts can be found here:
Why did I include the poll?
Engaging relevant conceptions matters.
natural gas
But first a caution...
The tools we highlight from Craven's book are appropriate for use in the classroom or for educational outreach, but the book itself should be used cautiously in these activities if at all. The credibility spectrum and decision grid are unbiased, but their presentation in the book is more complicated. Some people find Craven's presentation amusing, others find it condescending. Read it with careful consideration before adopting for use in teaching or outreach.
Sources of information about our energy system
This is just the start of a resource collection. It will be added to as time allows. Suggest resources by emailing Don Duggan-Haas: dad55@cornell.edu
Many of the statistics included in this presentation come from the EIA website.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration
Where does each belong on the credibility spectrum?
Download the packet here:
What one STANYS audience said...
The right answers
There are
already a lot of gas
wells in New York State.

(same link as above)
These images show the locations of Chautaugua County gas wells. The sequence begins
zoomed in on the Chautauqua
Institution. Note the scale bar
in the bottom left of each image.

These are NOT Marcellus Shale
wells (most are in the Medina
Sandstone). The images are
included here to show that
there are already many gas
wells in New York State.
Zoom out
Zoom out
Zoom out
The ways you choose to look influences what you see.
Beautiful Chautauqua!
It's the same beautiful place, we've just highlighted something in these views...
Resources for learning more of the relevant science...
(links in

Cornell Cooperative Extension Natural Gas Resource Center
Paleontological Research Institution Marcellus Shale Outreach
U.S. EPA Hydraulic Fracturing and Water Resources
NYS Water Resources Institute at Cornell University
Penn State Extension Natural Gas
NYS DEC Marcellus Shale
Revised Draft SGEIS on the Oil, Gas and Solution Mining Regulatory Program (September 2011)
Submit comments to the DEC
Comments will be accepted through 5:00 p.m. January 11, 2012
This presentation can be found on Science Beneath the Surface blog.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration
Many of the statistics included in this presentation come from the EIA website.
Follow the arrow below to submit comments to the DEC
The Google Earth file linked above contains additional information on the Marcellus Shale and the broader energy system.
Some imagery from:
...with appreciation!
As we watch, think about how this video would be received by different audiences.
The nature of the argument
The nature of the presentation
Starpoint Student Questions:
1. how exactly does the rock fracturing process work?
2. what size particles is the Marcellus shale broken up into during this process?
3. how much water is really used in this process?
4. how about the other "stuff" that is also pumped into the ground?
5. how much of the water pumped into the ground is retrieved? taken where?
6. is there any danger to the groundwater if this "stuff" is left in the ground?
7. what about land reclamation?
8. how strong is the "explosion" underground? any potential damage above ground?
9. are there any long term effects or don't we know yet?
We further recognize that we cannot fully recognize or describe our own biases. And that no one else can fully recognize or describe their own biases.
natural gas
Other gases
Other renewables
natural gas
natural gas
natural gas
What are the two largest energy sources for electricity produced in your state?
Choose from this alphabetical list:
This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1035078.

Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
horizontal high-volume hydraulic fracturing

A bit about
in tight shale
in tight rock

But the combination is new.
No individual piece of the
technological approach is new
Substantially impacts rural areas
The overwhelming majority of
what goes down a well is water...
Plus a lot of sand.
But, with 4 million gallons for a typical well, if a half a percent is additives, that's 20,000 gallons of other stuff.
According to the most recent estimate from the USGS, the Marcellus Shale contains about 84 trillion cubic feet of undiscovered, technically recoverable natural gas.
Rob Ross, Kelly Cronin, Joe Henderson, Trisha Smrecak, & our educator participants.
With thanks to...
A statistic
& a question
One large nuclear plant produces as much electricity as...
4,200 large windmills
The 100.5 MW Noble Bliss Windpark (67 1.5 MW windmills)
(So 63 Noble Bliss Windparks)
...or 68 square miles of photovoltaics.
The 750 KW Solar Strand at the University of Buffalo
(8400 Solar Strands)
Which of these is worse for the environment?
The 686 MW AES Somerset Coal Power Plant in Niagara County
Almost 10 coal plants equivalent to the state's largest
(7 of these)
...which is powered largely by Appalachian coal...
The implications of extracting gas from shale are better understood from a systems perspective.
See it to scale here:
Is slickwater high-volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing bad for the environment?
Can we ask richer questions?
Is hydraulic fracturing better or worse for the environment than what we are doing now or might reasonably do in the near future to get the energy we need?
See this map as a standalone Prezi here:
That shows some of the ways that electricity production is changing.
How we use electricity is changing in really important ways too.
2% of US electricity production goes to data centers.
90% of adults in the world are projected to have cell phones by 2014.
The ripple effects through the energy system of these changes are substantial.
The Internet has shrunken the energy use of an array of activities while increasing it in others.
I know that most people get the question wrong.
Can we make informed decisions about changes to the energy system if we don't know where we currently get our energy?
We are striving to help people switch mental gears from gut responses to more analytical approaches; from System 1 to System 2.
That gives a decent quick overview of much relevant information.
What to expect...
Then, a whirlwind overview of slickwater horizontal high volume hydraulic fracturing in the Marcellus Shale...
...placed in the context of the larger energy system
First, some discussion of the educational challenges this work poses.
Plus a bottom line idea: We need to use a whole lot less energy.
But information isn't enough to build scientific understanding.
Sociocultural issues matter a great deal.
More information is likely to further polarize.
Controversial issues involve conflicting worldviews
Gateway drugs...
evolution is seen as a gateway drug to atheism.
global warming or environmental regulation are seen as gateway drugs to socialism
hydraulic fracturing and nuclear power are seen as a gateways to environmental ruin
Where you see this icon, there's more content.
Click to zoom in on it if time allows.
Responses: http://bit.ly/CLNGatewayResponses
Check out the history of peat as a
fuel source:

There is a long history of finding a fuel source, nearly exhausting it; and then mining or harvesting it in ways that are increasingly damaging to the environment and expensive. Then, a new source emerges, reducing one set of environmental problems while creating new ones.

The cartoon was brought to my attention in
ichard Alley's presentation found here:
If they were set up as a single strand as wide as UB's Solar Strand, it would stretch from Buffalo to Phoenix!
(But solar can go on roofs)
Reducing energy demand is fundamental to reducing environmental degradation.
Should we use this kind of energy?
Should we use this much energy?
Screen grabs from that Google Earth file are included within this presentation.
The light green roughly paralleling the Lake Ontario shoreline shows where the Marcellus Shale is exposed in New York State. The shale is found only south of that line.
The area of light green mostly obscured by the text balloon shows where the Utica Shale is exposed.
Take the poll here: http://bit.ly/CLNGateway
There's more.
What follows within this Prezi is the content for a second presentation, originally given at the National Science Teachers' Association Annual Conference in 2011.
To learn more about the geography of energy, see: http://www.eia.gov/beta/state/.
In July, 2012 (the most recent data available at this writing), New York produced twice as much electricity from natural gas than from any other single source.
To learn more about what you need to understand to teach about the Marcellus Shale, see: http://bit.ly/MarcellusShalePCK
1/5 mile
Most recent data...
Updated February, 2016
...in a friendly way.
Without forgetting about the importance of simple.
(lightbulbs are important, but not enough).
Producing evidence-based materials that do not advocate.
What we're doing...
Working with educators across selected communities:
K-12 Teachers
College & University
Nature Center
And public programming
Using a systems approach with a range of experts
Treating the Marcellus as one case of an emergent energy issue
One group in Elmira, a second in Binghmaton.
And we have a long history of dealing with controversial issues:
And we have a long history of dealing with controversial issues:
The Marcellus Shale
Of the over a 2500 New York State residents I've polled in my audiences so far, fewer than 200 have correctly identified natural gas & nuclear as the two largest energy sources for electricity generated in state.
Use one’s place in the world as a starting point to engage in critical inquiry of the forces working to shape that place (geology, ecology, capital flows, law, etc.)
Transcend disciplinary boundaries - controversial issues are interdisciplinary.
Be aware of the limits of your own worldview when communicating.
Work to complexify your own understanding
Affirm relevant worldviews without reinforcing myths.
Engage relevant existing conceptions about the broader energy system
Answer the obvious question: Is hydrofracturing bad for the environment? Yes, and...
Reframe the discussion away from the most obvious question to something richer and more complex.
Draw attention to complexifying the seemingly simple and also to the simple bottom line message.
Allow people to protect self worth.
Argument in the vernacular sense of shouting at one another is more likely to reinforce polarization rather than reduce it.
Want more?
This presentation:
A much larger presentation giving an overview of both the Marcellus Shale and the larger energy system.
Coal 45%
Two and a half large gas-fired power plants
The 2.5 GW Ravenswood Generating Station, Queens, NY.
Which is powered largely by HVHF gas.
Rabbit Lake Uranium Mine, Saskatchewan, Canada
natural gas
Two important related questions:
But so is every way we generate energy on a large scale.
natural gas
other renewables
Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . iii

Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

Chapter 1. Geology of the Marcellus Shale . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5

Chapter 2. Why the Geology Matters . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .19

Chapter 3. The Technology of Shale Gas Extraction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .33

Chapter 4. Water and Marcellus Shale Development . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .63

Chapter 5. Beyond Water: Other Environmental Impacts of Marcellus Gas

Development . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .89

Chapter 6. Life-Cycle Analysis: Shale Gas and Climate Change . . . . . . . . . 103

Chapter 7. The Marcellus Shale in a Broader Energy Context . . . . . . . . . . 123

Chapter 8. Compared to What? Risk, Uncertainty, & Hydrofracking . . . . 141

Chapter 9. Teaching About the Marcellus Shale . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 159

Chapter 10. So What? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 175

Abbreviations and Acronyms . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 180

Glossary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 182

Endnotes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 189

Figure Credits . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 211

References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 214

Index . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 230

Contributors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .252
The 6.3 GW Bruce Nuclear Generating Station in Ontario
The facility had been operating on six of its eight reactors, at a capacity of 4.6 GW. All eight reactors are now online.
That's 3.5 times more large windmills than we had in the entire state in Spring 2014.
NY's largest is small compared to many other states.
If we kept the Solar Strand the same width and extended its length to match Bruce's generating capacity, we'd need to extend it from Buffalo to Juarez, Mexico!
More info:
And this is what 7,000 gallons looks like.
Coal includes anthracite, bituminous coal, subbituminous coal, lignite, waste coal, and synthetic coal.

Other includes non-biogenic municipal solid waste, batteries, chemicals, hydrogen, pitch, purchased steam, sulfur, tire-derived fuels, and miscellaneous technologies.

Other Biomass includes biogenic municipal solid waste, landfill gas, sludge waste, agricultural byproducts, other biomass solids, other biomass liquids, and other biomass gases (including digester gases and methane).

Other Gases includes blast furnace gas, propane gas, and other manufactured and waste gases derived from fossil fuels.

Petroleum includes distillate fuel oil (all diesel and No. 1, No. 2, and No. 4 fuel oils), residual fuel oil (No. 5 and No. 6 fuel oils and bunker C fuel oil), jet fuel, kerosene, petroleum coke, and waste oil.

Wood and Wood Derived Fuels includes paper pellets, railroad ties, utility poles, wood chips, bark, red liquor, sludge wood, spent sulfite liquor, and black liquor, with other wood waste solids and wood-based liquids.
Electric Power Net Generation by State (2012)
All data from the Energy Information Administration: http://www.eia.gov/electricity/data.cfm#consumption
US Electric Power Net Generation by Fuel (2012)
natural gas
other renewables
Think about the nature of arguments.
Recognize logical fallacies, both in your own arguments and in the arguments of others. If you find logical fallacies in your own arguments then, CHANGE YOUR ARGUMENT!
Two and a half of NY's largest power plant
The 2.5 GW Robert Moses Power Plant at Niagara Falls
(one of the two Ontario Hydro Adams Plants is seen across the river)
Powered by Niagara Falls
See gas production data:
See shale gas production data:
This presentation is a complement to our book.
A version of this talk that adds more insights related to teaching controversial issues is here:

(Opens in a separate window).
See selected connections to Earth Science Literacy Principles here:
Back to the quiz...
Rules of Thumb:
Rule of Thumb #2:
Evidence matters, but evidence alone is not enough.
All of us hold beliefs for which ample conflicting evidence exists.
Learn about cognitive biases (including your own)
State evidence clearly and directly, identifying a small number of key points.
Mathematics matters.
...and how to communicate more effectively in light of them.
Too many different points cloud the issue.
Scale plays a central role in many controversial issues, and understanding really large or really small numbers brings special challenges. “Social math” (National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, 2008) uses familiar examples to show volume, mass, or relative number.
Call out logical fallacies,
and hold people accountable for (mis)using them. There’s a taxonomy of problematic argument types. Get to know it and put it to use.
Be blunt!
Rule of Thumb #3:
Be nice (but there are limits).
Treating those who disagree as either idiots or evil people is unlikely to convince them that you’re correct.
Advocacy may deepen convictions more than understanding.
Don’t let the bastards get you down.
Evangelism turns on people who agree with you and turns off many who don’t. Being certain and being right aren’t the same thing, and they aren’t all that closely related. Put more faith in people and institutions that are pretty sure than those that are certain.
Working on nurturing public understanding of controversial issues will make people angry, and angry people say and do nasty things. Have a support system you can turn to.
Rule of Thumb #4:
Persistence matters.
Beliefs related to controversial issues are often closely tied to worldviews, and such beliefs do not change quickly or easily.
People do change their minds on things that matter.
Piling on evidence can bring beliefs to a tipping point.
Two words: gay marriage.
Working on nurturing public understanding of controversial issues will make people angry, and angry people say and do nasty things. Have a support system you can turn to.
Gay marriage.
Reflect on big changes in your own beliefs.
Chances are, it took either a long time or immersion in the issue.
Recognize logical fallacies, both in your own arguments and in the arguments of others. If you find logical fallacies in your own arguments then, CHANGE YOUR ARGUMENT!
Think about the nature of arguments.
Rule of Thumb #1:
Complexify the seemingly simple.
As educators (and like journalists and politicians), we are driven to simplify the seemingly complex. It’s often important, but we do it too often. The world is complex.
Move from debate to discussion.
Controversial issues are always interdisciplinary and can be more deeply understood from a systems perspective.
Don’t forget the importance of the simple.
There are often ways to reframe away from false dichotomies.
Pay attention to the tools and strategies of the most centrally-related disciplines.
While acknowledging the issue’s complexity is important, there are often simple ideas illuminated within that complexity.
Rule of Thumb #5:
Use one’s place in the world as a starting point
Treating those who disagree as either idiots or evil people is unlikely to convince them that you’re correct.
Engage in critical inquiry of the forces working to shape that place (geology, ecology, capital flows, law, etc.)
One-page Summary
Know your audience.
"Nice" has different meanings with different audiences.
For the most part, people aren't lying.
MOSTLY, they believe what they are saying.
For Teaching Controversial Issues
The January 2015 Journal of Sustainability Education includes an excerpt of this presentation.
As the presentation you're viewing now is regularly updated, the JSE article may be more appropriate for citation. The JSE article also includes some narration.
For the related presentation, "Hydrofracking, Climate Change, and, Evolution Outreach Yield Rules of Thumb for Teaching About Controversial Issues" from the 2014 Geological Society of America meeting,

A short article from that presentation is here:
Related Resources:
Links open in new tabs. Exit full-screen mode
to view.
Updated April 2015!
The little one is less bad than the big one, even though the big one has more renewables.
NY 2012 actual data from eia.gov
See also: http://www.iea.org/sankey/

(That means the bigger one represents a lot more total energy)
Full transcript