Countries that claim the most access to the planet’s resources continue to grow in population and economy at an increasing pace. This growth reduces the amount of non-renewable energy resources on the planet. However, contrary to popular belief, the earth has so much of these non-renewable fuels that it the planet is not going to run out for quite a long time.
Consider, however, the recent push for increasing our use of renewable and clean energy sources such as solar and wind. While these energy sources sound great on paper, they are massively expensive to setup and operate, and they are also very inefficient. In same cases, like the electric car or ethanol fuel, they are actually more damaging to the environment than fossil fuels.
There is a lot of hidden activities going on in the world of natural resources where countries try to keep prices high by playing with environmental laws in other countries or by causing political instability in areas of the world where these resources are produced. Consider the following in your response:
- Nuclear energy is actually the most reliable, cleanest, and most environmentally friendly way to produce electricity on a mass scale thus far invented, yet the United States has not built a new reactor in over 30 years. Why is the development of new technologies not being investigated in nuclear energy? (HINT: It has nothing to do with “safety”.)
- Natural gas is one of the cheapest, cleanest, and most abundant energy resources on the planet, yet there is much opposition to exploiting this wonderful natural resource when it could reduce energy costs for many of the world’s poor. Why is this resource being ignored?
- Oil is very abundant in the earth, and quite a few countries have access to it that are not located in the Middle East. However, it is illegal in many countries (including the United States) to drill for this oil on land where many of these massive oil fields are located. Instead, environmental laws force companies to drill off shore in the water, where it is more expensive and much more dangerous for the environment. What motivations would environmental groups have for making environmental laws that seem to hurt the environment? (HINT: Which countries have the most to gain from oil prices? Which countries are the largest donor to the environmental movements?)
- What responsibility, if any, do countries have in ensuring other countries have fair access to these resources? NOTE: Do not just answer yes or no on this one. Think about what “fair” means and what “responsibility” really means. There is a lot more to this idea than we think…