Managing Our Natural Resources, 6e, Camp - 10

10

UNIt I

Introduction

Over the centuries we have used the force of moving air, i.e., wind, to transport our goods and to pull water from the earth. Windmills once dotted the
American landscape. Sailing ships crossed the oceans and the great lakes of the
world. We cannot compare the quantity of wind in the past to that today. Nor
can we conserve or waste wind. We can only use it whenever possible and try
to avoid polluting it. During the energy crisis of the 1970s, there was a growing
interest in the use of wind power. Then a temporary energy "glut" in the 1980s
diminished the interest in wind power for several decades. Interest in wind
power is on the rise again, and huge wind farms can be seen in many parts of
the country today.
Another major energy source is coal. It is probably the most widely distributed storehouse of the sun's energy. Coal was first discovered in America in
1673, in what is now Illinois. In 1824, about 81,000 tons of coal was mined
in this country. By 1950, the annual production had grown to 516 million
tons. United States coal production in 2011 was estimated at 1.1 billion tons.
Thus, a total of about 78 billion tons of coal was produced in the United States
between 1890 and 2011.i Yet that represents only 1 to 2 percent of the total
available. Authorities estimate reserves of 2.75 billion tons in U.S. coal. Coal is
a one-time resource-but it is very plentiful. That means we have been finding
coal much faster than we have been using it. There is no doubt that our known
coal deposits could last for centuries. Moreover, there is little doubt that we
have enough coal still undiscovered to last through the next thousand years.
As we have already seen, usefulness changes over time. It seems likely that the
earth's supply of coal will last long after coal as a source of heat energy has been
replaced by less expensive and cleaner natural resources that we may not even
know about yet.
Another sun-charged energy resource is oil. A science textbook for high
school students in the late 1950s said that the world's reserve of oil would only
last about 14 years at the rate of use then in effect. Today we use much more
oil each year, but we have a greater store of known oil than we did 50 years ago.
Because of improved oil discovery and recovery techniques, the world's known
oil reserves have grown steadily over the years. Yet oil is also a one-time resource,
so it must be carefully conserved.
A barrel of oil is about 36 gallons, or 159 liters. In 1960, world production
of crude oil totaled 20.96 million barrels per day. By 1989, that had increased
to 59.46 million barrels per day. Known world crude oil reserves totaled almost
135 billion metric tons in 1990. In 2009, the known crude oil reserves, in the
Middle East countries alone, totaled over 745 billion barrels. In contrast, the
known crude oil reserves in the United States in 2009 were only 21.3 billion barrels. In 2012, the worldwide proven oil reserve had grown to 1.5 trillion barrels,
of which 26.5 billion barrels were in the United States.ii
It is important to understand that in addition to traditional crude oil reserves,
a massive amount of petroleum is stored in oil sand and oil shale deposits. These
have been too expensive to extract in the past, but increasing crude oil prices are
making that source of oil feasible today. Oil sands and shale will be discussed in
some detail in Chapter 32. In addition, with the advent of hydraulic fracturing
(more commonly known as "fracking") technologies in the past several decades,
the recoverable volume of oil has grown drastically. That trend will also be discussed in Chapter 32.
Until the early 1900s, natural gas was considered a waste product from oil
fields. Now, however, it has been recognized for what it is-a clean, efficient



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Managing Our Natural Resources, 6e, Camp

Contents
Managing Our Natural Resources, 6e, Camp - Cover1
Managing Our Natural Resources, 6e, Camp - Cover2
Managing Our Natural Resources, 6e, Camp - i
Managing Our Natural Resources, 6e, Camp - ii
Managing Our Natural Resources, 6e, Camp - iii
Managing Our Natural Resources, 6e, Camp - iv
Managing Our Natural Resources, 6e, Camp - v
Managing Our Natural Resources, 6e, Camp - Contents
Managing Our Natural Resources, 6e, Camp - vii
Managing Our Natural Resources, 6e, Camp - viii
Managing Our Natural Resources, 6e, Camp - ix
Managing Our Natural Resources, 6e, Camp - x
Managing Our Natural Resources, 6e, Camp - xi
Managing Our Natural Resources, 6e, Camp - xii
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