GEOG 430
Human Use of the Environment



This week will focus on Natural Resource Extraction and, in particular, the energy industry and natural gas drilling. Rising energy demands around the world since the Industrial Revolution place an increasing burden on the environment and those who work and live in the landscapes of oil and gas drilling, and the pollution resulting from the extraction and consumption of fossil fuels is distributed unevenly. We will use our previous work - especially ideas of "scarcity," "nature," and environmental justice - to think about social, environmental, and economic costs, and about more just and sustainable ways we might regulate the extraction of natural resources.

Assignments Due During Week 9:

  • Take the Week 9 Quiz by Tuesday at 11:59 pm Eastern Time.   This quiz is OPTIONAL for the Fall 2018 semester. Do not complete the quiz unless you want to improve your overall quiz grade. 
  • Submit your 3rd Current Event Essay by Thursday at 11:59 pm Eastern Time. 
  • Begin working on your Final Essay Outline (due on Tuesday of Week 10).

Check the calendar in Canvas for specific due dates.

Materials for Week 9:

  • Tom Wilber (2012) Under the Surface - Fracking, Fortunes, and the Fate of the Marcellus Shale.
  • Seamus McGraw (2011) The End of Country. Prologue, Chapter 4.
  • Nancy Perkins (2012) The Fracturing of Place - The Regulation of Marcellus Shale Development and the Subordination of Local Experience.
  • Matthew Huber (2011) Enforcing Scarcity - Oil, Violence, and the Making of the Market.


  • Analyze the social, economic, and environmental impacts of natural gas extraction, and the visions of nature upon which the energy industry relies.
  • Discuss the different interests at stake in drilling the Marcellus Shale and how they may conflict with one another. The following stakeholders are particularly important:
    • land owners in the Shale region
    • drilling workers
    • drilling companies
    • environmentalists
    • the environment (and think carefully about what the interests of non-human nature might be and whether/how we should respect them)
    • government regulators and elected officials
    • taxpayers
    • consumers
  • Discuss how natural gas extraction in the Marcellus Shale is currently being regulated and the environmental and justice concerns raised.
  • Explain how the idea of resource scarcity has been used to justify violence and global "resource wars," and discuss the implications of "scarcity" and "overproduction" for the natural gas industry.

In your assignments, you are expected to include the full citations for these and other materials as detailed in our Quick Guide to Citations & References. Note that some of the information is (deliberately) missing from the references provided above! You will have to find the rest of the information yourself!

Let's dive in!