Energy in U.S. History

Spring 2021
Energy in US History
Final Exam
Due Noon, Friday, May 14

In a concise, well-organized, well-argued, typewritten, double-spaced essay of between five and seven pages, answer ONE of the following questions. Please note that well-argued means that you have a thesis statement and that you muster evidence from the readings in a logical sequence to support your statement. Your paper should have an introduction and conclusion, and you should cite both ideas and quotations from the texts we have read (and from lectures and discussions, if you choose to use them). Three caveats: 1. NO MAGIC MARGINS or HUGE FONTS; 2. DO NOT SPEND A LOT OF TIME SUMMARIZING THE READINGS; and 3. NUMBER YOUR PAGES. 4. CREATE A TITLE PAGE with a title that displays some thought and creativity (Also, on this title page please indicate the Question you are addressing). Finally, be sure to cite at least three sources in your response. Use the Chicago style of citation.

1.    How did the United States become the largest consumer of energy in the world? Historians have traditionally pointed to two factors to explain the trajectory of Americas energy history. The first argues that cultural factors explain the rise of American energy consumption, which in turn drives the relentless search for new production. A second explanation argues that market factors stemming from subsidies for energy production make energy inexpensive thereby encouraging consumption. Drawing upon at least three sources we have examined this semester construct an argument that persuasively defends one of these arguments and (if possible) attacks the other. Or you may reject them both and persuasively advance a different explanation for Americas energy consumption.
2.    How have environmental concerns influenced energy policy and politics in the second half of the twentieth century? Your answer might also include the following counter-factual: if the United States had no interest in seeking or maintaining a clean and healthy environment, how different would our energy policy/history appear? What does this suggest?
3.    Why do some forms of energy and energy technologies succeed in playing important roles in sustaining society while others fail? Choose two forms of energy or energy technologies and explain their success or failure. Your answer should consider at least three of the following factors: economics/business, government policy, the scientific qualities of the energy or energy technology, American culture, and the physical environment.

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