Sometimes I think it’s kinda too bad that the U.S. is as big as it is. I’m not talking about the population, but the sheer size of the land mass that is the United States of America. As it stands today (and I don’t think this will change any time soon), the United States is 9,826, 675 sq km, and is the third largest country behind Canada, and Russia1. There are of course a number of reasons that this huge area can be of a benefit to the citizens of the U.S. For one, a large land mass offers the potential for geographic diversity which offers the potential for natural resource diversity which offers the potential for industrial and economic diversity (this is probably more true for the U.S than for even Canada or Russia). I mean, this is a huge advantage that the U.S. has over other countries and has been a major contributing factor to the U.S.’s long-established status as “superpower”.
However, on the flip side, our large land mass means that our citizenry are much more spread out than might be the case in other countries. This means that we are more disconnected, less inclined to understand how our lives affect the lives of others around us, and are generally lacking in an understanding of how we depend on one another (a natural corollary to the previous point). Energy production within the U.S. provides a great example of this. Folks are probably more aware of OPEC and the potential for interruptions in crude oil supply given unrest in the Middle East, than are aware that roughly 54% of the crude oil we consume is produced right here at home.
Of course, much of this misunderstanding is due to the fact that our 24-hour news cycle focuses much more air time on exciting matters related to “international conflict and its impact on the future of America” than it does on “oil production forecasts for central Texas”, but I bet that if our country was smaller, our natural interactions with individuals on a daily basis might uncover some of the less well-known facts about energy production in the United States.
Maybe it’s a stretch, but if you lived within 100 miles of the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota, maybe you would have occasion to personally know someone who works in that oil field. Maybe you met at a local sporting event, or went to schools within close proximity of one another, OR maybe you would have occasion to drive past the oil wells and ask yourselves “what is going on over there?”. If any of these scenarios played out, you might know that North Dakota is the second largest producer of domestic oil in the U.S., behind Texas, producing more oil than Alaska, California, New Mexico and Oklahoma (did you know that those 6 states are responsible for a vast amount of the country’s oil production? – yes, even California with its “green” image)2. Yes, the internet helps us uncover a lot of this information (if you think to look for it), but there is no substitute to talking to people and making discoveries such as this organically. I’m sure there are many other surprises related to energy production/consumption in the U.S. that we would uncover (and that we will write about on the Power2Switch blog!).
1CIA World Factbook
2Energy Information Administration