Lesson 14: Energy Resources
This week's lesson is our third to focus on Earth's resources, and is one of
the most diverse and timely chapters we'll consider this semester. It explores
energy resources, beginning with "traditional" fossil fuels (like the oil produced by the pump jacks at right), continuing through
geothermal and nuclear power, and ending with "renewable" energy resources such
as solar and wind power. Although the chapter also examines some of the problems
that accompany the use of these resources, one of the most serious consequencesclimate
change driven by the burning of fossil fuelsis something we'll consider separately in a couple of weeks.
As you read through the introduction to energy resources in our text and study the accompanying websites it will be helpful to take careful notes. Writing out key facts in your own words or making neatly labeled drawings will help you better understand the significance of what you've read and spot any gaps in your knowledge. Having complete notes will also make it easier for you to review for this week's quiz and and access what you've learned when you want to refer back to it for future assignments. Be sure that you are prepared to meet the learning objectives outlined below before you move on to the quiz at the bottom of the page. This week's exercise, which comes from Hazard City, looks at how a variety of factors influence the value of fossil fuel resources.
Weekly Learning Objectives
Upon successful completion of this week's lesson, a student is expected to be able to:
- Contrast the conditions under which coal and petroleum, which are both derived from unoxidized organic matter, form in terms of their: geologic settings, source materials, and physical changes.
- Predict the likely locations for petroleum or natural gas "traps" in a geologic cross-section that shows the subsurface structure of source, reservoir and cap rocks.
- Contrast the physical processes that generate energy during nuclear fission versus nuclear fusion and indicate which of these processes is used to produce power comercially today despite its long-term environmental drawbacks.
- Explain, in terms of regional geology, why most geothermal power plants are located in the western part rather than the eastern part of the conterminous Untied States.
- Distinguish between alternative and renewable energy sources, indicate which sources are major producers today, and which are growing the most rapidly.
Reading and Browsing Assignment
- Read Chapter 16, focusing on the topics outlined in the learning objectives above.
- For an overview of energy resources in the United States, check out the U.S. Department of Energy's energy sources site. In addition to brief overviews on many different energy sources, this site has many useful links to sites on with more detail on individual resources.
- To learn more about both the economic and political aspects of fossil fuels and their use, check out the sites of the American Petroleum Institute (oil and natural gas) or the World Coal Association (coal). Note that these are industry-sponsored sites and, therefore, have definite "points of view".
- Finally, as you may know, the state legislature recently enacted and the governor recently signed a number a number of new laws that will promote the use of solar energy in California. You can learn more about these new laws at the Vote Solar website. Note, this is also an advocacy group.
Exercise 14: Coal Property Assessment (Due by 9:00 AM on 21-Nov-2011)
After you have studied the parts of chapter 16 that deal with the formation of coal and the consequences of mining and using it, please load up your Hazard City CD and work through version 2 of the Coal Property Assessment. This is a fairly involved project, so allow at least an hour to complete it. Be sure to jot down any useful notes on the procedure you followed before you go to fill out the report at the end of the assignment. (I suggest printing the form provided, filling it in, and then adding any annotations that might be helpful.) Finally, go to the Tasks and Tests section of the Etudes site to complete Exercise 14.
Finally, as with the Earthquake Damage Assement you did several weeks ago, your exact answers on this exercise will depend on how you read a crucial diagram. Do not be alarmed if you initially earn a low score from Etudes. I will go back through to "hand grade" everyone's work, and as long as your results are consistent with a reasonable value from that diagram your answers will be considered correct.
Quiz 14: Energy Resources (Due by 9:00 AM on 21-Nov-2011.)
After you feel you have met the learning outcomes outlined above, please complete Quiz 14 in the Etudes "Assignments, Tests, and Surveys" area. There are ten questions, each worth one point. If you can answer all of them correctly it means that you know your way around the basics of energy resource issues pretty well and are ready to move on to a more detailed look at soils and soil erosion next week. Remember, answers will be available for review after 10:00 AM on the Tuesday after the quiz closes, so please look over the results of your quiz and contact me if you have any questions about either content or scoring.