Ecology and the State: A State perspective.

lecture notes for International Studies

instructor. H. D. Maher Jr.

What would you include in an environmental profile of a country? Such a profile might be used for governmental strategic planning, ecomic development purposes, and resource management purposes

What are major classes of geologic commodities crucial to modern society?

What are major energy sources?

Distinction between reserve and resource estimates for a 'commodity.' Reserve is estimate of discovered deposits, while resource = reserves + yet to be discovered deposits. How to estimate the latter?

Summary of different categories on energy sources with % contribution in overall energy consumption and list of associated environmental traits (DOE 95 #s):

some 86% from fossil fuels!

Energy reserves, resources and the future - when will we 'run' out?

What are the factors that will determine when we run out, that will be involved in making projections?

Below tables taken from USGS report at

Table 1. Volumes of undiscovered world petroleum, by commodity, from this assessment (mean values, exclusive of the United States) and the previous USGS assessment

Commodity USGS 1993 Assessment
(Masters, 1994)
USGS 2000 Assessment
(this study)
Undiscovered oil 539 billion barrels 649 billion barrels
Undiscovered natural gas 915 BBOE *1 778 BBOE
Undiscovered natural gas liquids 90 BBOE 207 BBOE
World Total 1544 BBOE 1634 BBOE

*1BBOE = billion barrels of oil equivalent.

Table 2. Volumes of undiscovered oil and undiscovered natural gas by region, including percentages of world totals (mean values, exclusive of the United States).

Region Undiscovered oil
billion barrels
Percent of world total Undiscovered natural gas (trillion cubic feet) Percent of world total
1: Former Soviet Union 116 17.9 % 1611 34.5 %
2: Middle East and North Africa 230 35.4 % 1370 29.3 %
3: Asia-Pacific 30 4.6 % 379 8.1 %
4: Europe 22 3.4 % 312 6.7 %
5: North America* 70 10.9 % 154 3.3 %
6: Central and South America 105 16.2 % 487 10.4 %
7: Sub-Saharan Africa and Antarctica 72 11.0 % 235 5.0 %
8: South Asia 4 0.6 % 120 2.6 %
World Total* 649   4669  

* Exclusive of the United States

Simple facts and simple-minded extrapolation.

Annual consumption rate - 25 billion barrels/year global consumption. 859 Bb normal reserves. Straight line and simple minded extrapolation - <40 years of reserves left (still resources). 2120 Bb oil left in ground. Perhaps < hundred years of oil resource left.

What factors will likely lengthen this estimate?

What factors will likely shorten this estimate?

U.S. position in the global context (95 DOE #s):

What will likely replace oil?

As we shift to other energy sources, there will be geopolitical and environmental repercussions.


Influence of geopolitical distribution of resources on history and policy.

Lecture Summary

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