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Ph.D. student debunks common misinformation about renewable energy transition: 'So many people don't understand'

"This is like a Victorian candlemaker arguing that the lightbulb can never replace the candle."

“This is like a Victorian candlemaker arguing that the lightbulb can never replace the candle."

Photo Credit: TikTok

It's a good time to be in the renewable energy industry — its production capacity grew by 50% in 2023. But for some politicians — especially those whose campaigns are tied to big oil and gas — renewables are a threat to their way of life and something to be discouraged.

That's why a Ph.D. student on TikTok has made it his mission to debunk false myths perpetuated by these politicians. Rosh (@all_about_climate) recently posted one such video in response to a famously anti-environmental Canadian premier, Danielle Smith, who made a misleading argument about renewables.

@all_about_climate Debunking another myth about #renewableenergy #climate #sustainable #wind #solar #climateaction #savetheplanet #climatecrisis #science #explained #fyp #oil #coal #gas #netzero #logic #factcheck #globalwarming #planetearth #environment #politicaltiktok ♬ original sound - Rosh

In her video, she argues that fossil fuels are necessary to produce renewable energy sources, such as wind turbines.

"Right now, in order to make renewable technology, we still need fossil fuels," Rosh agreed. "But assuming that's always going to be the case is obviously problematic."

Instead, he explains: "This is like a Victorian candlemaker arguing that the lightbulb can never replace the candle, because in order to make light bulbs, you need candlelight. … It'll be several decades before we can completely replace fossil fuels with renewable energy, and of course there are problems and challenges we have to overcome to get there, but whether you like it or not, fossil fuels will go the way of the candle, and renewable energy, like the lightbulb, will replace it."

Commenters were quick to see Rosh's logic. 

"So many people don't understand that technology improves over time," one wrote. 

"Change or paradigm shifting have always presented challenges, especially for those profiting from the status quo," another agreed.

Renewables are already experiencing rapid growth, sending fossil fuels "the way of the candle." Over 20% of the energy generated in 2023 in the U.S. was generated by renewables, and that number is closer to 35% globally.

And not only is renewable energy generally more affordable in the long run for consumers, but it also helps to reduce harmful pollution generated by fossil fuels, which contributes to increasing average temperatures worldwide. Yet despite these advantages, many people — like this politician — are still resistant to making the switch.

"Transition seems to be a difficult concept for some," one commenter observed wryly.

But for those who are ready to make the leap, there are many ways to start migrating away from fossil fuels, from installing solar panels on your home to making your next car an electric vehicle.

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