Oil production in the United States satisfies only half of the country’s needs

Critical and Creative Thinking Questions

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Oil production in the United States satisfies only half of the country’s needs; the rest is imported. If imports were cut off, what changes would you expect to occur in your lifestyle?

If oil imports were cut off, the changes to my lifestyle and to the United States would be devastating. Gasoline prices would skyrocket. This would force me and others to curtail our driving. I might have to rely on public transportation; however, the cost of said transportation would also increase. There would be gas rationing as the government would need to have gas for the military and other essentials to keep the government running. Prices for other goods such as food would also increase as it would become more expensive to ship items from place to place.


Investigate how geophysicist M. King Hubbert predicted in 1956 that annual U.S. oil production would peak in the early 1970s (the actual peak occurred in 1971). Also, investigate the debate over whether the same predictive technique can be applied to world oil supplies. When do you think world oil production will reach its peak? Or has it done so already?


Many hydrothermal mineral deposits of copper, gold, silver, and other metals have been found in the countries bordering the Pacific Ocean. Can you offer an explanation for this remarkable concentration? If you were part of a team of exploration geologists looking for large copper deposits, where would you focus your search?


Given that we are now dependent on nonrenewable resources of energy and minerals and that the world’s population continues to increase, how do you think human societies will adjust in the future? Do we have a resource problem or a population problem (or both)?


Some people think that sustainable development is not a useful concept because it may be impossible to implement—or even to define—in the case of nonrenewable resources. Others think that it is an extremely important concept, if only because it makes us think about the needs of future generations in planning resource management. What do you think?

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