GEOG 430
Human Use of the Environment

Week 7 Overview


Energy Geographies

This week, we will consider energy as an important mediator of human-environment relations. In seeking energy sources, in recovering and using energy, humans necessarily make modifications (big and small) to their environment as well as to themselves. Energy production, distribution, and consumption re-orient human-environment relations as well as human societies. This week, the course looks at the sub-field of energy geography – what it is and what it studies. This week’s readings, on oil and biofuels, problematize two ideas that have become common sense when thinking about energy: first is the idea that scarcity of resources is a result of natural, geological limits; and second, the idea that renewables are beneficial for everyone.

Consider these questions as you go through the material for this week as well as when completing your assignment:

  • What are the social, economic, and environmental impacts caused by the energy industry?
  • Who invests in renewables, in what part of the world, and why?
  • How will the transition towards renewables re-orient the geopolitics of energy, as well as our communities? What will be the role of the state, businesses, and communities?
  • Are the discourses around clean energy and climate change taking attention away from the social inequalities inherent in some renewable energy technologies (think large hydroelectric dams and other land intensive renewables)?


  • ​​​​​​Reading: Huber, M.T. (2011) Enforcing scarcity: oil, violence, and the making of the market. Ann Assoc Am Geogr 101(4):816–826.
  • Reading: Baka, J. (2016). Making space for energy: Wasteland development, enclosures, and energy dispossessions. Antipode doi: 10.1111/anti.12219.

​Assignments Due:

  • Take the Week 7 Quiz (covering this week's materials) by Saturday at 11:59 pm Eastern Time.
  • Complete Week 7 Activity and Discussion in Canvas by Saturday at 11:59 pm Eastern Time.

Please see the calendar in Canvas for specific due dates.