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Energy Resources: From Science to Society

Wesley Reisser and Colin Reisser

Publication Date - 16 February 2018

ISBN: 9780190200497

400 pages
7-1/2 x 9-1/4 inches

In Stock

Accessible to students without scientific backgrounds, this comprehensive text covers global energy resources: where they come from, our harvesting and consumption of them, and the subsequent effects on our politics, environment, economy, and society


The global energy system and its future are central to understanding many of the key challenges faced by society today-from climate change to rising prices for commodities and Western interest instability in the Middle East. Unfortunately, today's students are not well prepared to address these issues at their source. Few texts provide a broad overview of the science and policy challenges associated with the extensive array of energy resources that make up the current global energy system.

Energy Resources takes a holistic approach to energy that covers both the science and social-science issues of today's global energy system. It simplifies the scientific background of the resources, describing each step-from formation to transmission-to make the science accessible to students. Each resource is discussed in both the US and global contexts in order to analyze its impact on the environment, economy, society, and politics.


  • Holistic approach to energy that covers both science and social science issues of today's energy systems
  • Simplified approach to the science of each energy resource
  • Energy challenges discussed in both the U.S. and global context

About the Author(s)

Wesley Reisser is Professor of Geography at George Washington University. He is also a member of the US Department of State's Civil Service and serves as a Councilor of the American Geographical Society.

Colin Reisser is an expert on climate and energy issues. He has professional experience in the American and international oil and gas industry and an academic background in energy and climate issues, especially in the Arctic.


"Energy Resources provides the right mix of technical information and economic and social data necessary to introduce college students to the multiple challenges facing the global energy system. The text is accessible, free of unnecessary jargon, comprehensive in its coverage, and balanced in its discussions, and up to date. It is exactly what I need to get my students to start thinking intelligently about energy politics and policy choices."--Daniel Marien, University of Central Florida

"This text is very useful to instructors who are teaching energey courses for non-scientific audiences. It introduces students to complex energy issues through simple language and engaging illustrations"--Pankaj Lal, Montclair State University

"Reisser's text is a great resource for faculty. Because it covers politics, economics, energy science, climate science, and history, Energy Resoures is well rounded, organized, and written with undergraduate students in mind."--Brandon M. Hoover, Rowan University

"What sets Energy Resources apart is that the authors don't get "bogged down" in the technicalities of the science of energy sources, but instead they intertwine social, economic, and political contexts. No other text accomplishes this nearly as well."--Ned J. Knight, Linfield College

Table of Contents

    PART 1. Introduction to Energy

    1. Introduction - What Is Energy?
    Overview of Energy Basics
    Measuring Energy
    Current Energy Sources
    Electrical Energy
    Energy Efficiency
    Energy Storage

    2. The Energy Basket
    Energy Sources and Trade
    World Primary Energy Consumption
    Vignette: The Industrial Revolution & the Change to an Energy Intensive Economy
    The Energy Basket of the United States
    History of Energy Consumption in the United States

    PART 2. Energy Resources

    3. Coal
    Coal Formation
    Coal Mining
    Coal Combustion and Electrical Generation
    Worldwide Coal Production and Consumption
    Vignette: The Human Costs of Coal Mining in China
    U.S. Coal Production and Consumption
    Vignette: Mountaintop Mining in the Appalachians
    Impacts of Coal Use
    Mitigating the Impacts of Coal Use

    4. Oil
    Origins and Geology of Petroleum
    Refining and Uses of Oil
    Finding and Producing Petroleum
    Unconventional Sources of Petroleum
    World Oil Production and Consumption
    U.S. Oil Production and Consumption
    Vignette: Canada's Tar Sands
    Beyond Peak Oil
    Impacts of Oil Production and Consumption
    Vignette: Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

    5. Natural Gas
    Origins and Geology of Natural Gas
    Uses of Natural Gas
    Finding and Producing Natural Gas
    Vignette: The Hydraulic Fracturing Controversy
    Worldwide Natural Gas Production & Consumption
    Vignette: Pipeline Politics in Russia and Europe
    U.S. Gas Production & Consumption
    Methane Hydrates
    Impacts of Natural Gas Production & Consumption

    6. Nuclear Power
    Radioactivity & Nuclear Fission
    Uranium Mining and the Nuclear Fuel Cycle
    Thermal Fission Reactors and Breeder Reactors
    Worldwide Nuclear Power Production
    U.S. Nuclear Power Production
    Vignette: Mining Uranium in Niger
    Meltdowns and Other Nuclear Threats
    Vignette: The Chernobyl and Fukushima Disasters
    Nuclear Waste
    Vignette: The Yucca Mountain Debate
    Costs of Nuclear Versus Other Forms of Energy

    7. Hydropower
    The Water Cycle
    Hydroelectric Dams
    Small Scale Hydropower
    Worldwide Hydropower Production
    Vignette: China's Three Gorges Dam
    U.S. Hydropower Production
    Environmental Considerations
    Vignette: The Aswan High Dam's Archeological Devastation
    Impacts on People & Society
    Vignette: Glen Canyon Dam and the Future of American Hydropower
    Tidal and Wave Power

    8. Wind Power
    The Wind
    Wind Turbines
    Worldwide Wind Power Generation
    Vignette: Birds and Wind Power
    U.S. Wind Power Generation
    Environmental & Political Impacts
    Vignette: Offshore Wind Debates

    9. Solar Power
    Basics of Solar Energy
    Solar Heating
    Solar Thermal Engines & Electricity
    Worldwide Solar Generation
    Vignette: Germany's Solar Revolution
    U.S. Solar Production
    Environmental Impacts
    Vignette: Large Scale Solar in the Mojave Desert

    10. Biofuels
    Bioenergy Past and Present
    Transportation Biofuels
    Biofuels from Waste
    Vignette: Algae as an Energy Resource
    Worldwide Biofuel Production
    Vignette: Palm Oil for Biodiesel in Indonesia
    U.S. Biofuel Production
    Environmental Benefits and Impacts
    Vignette: Food or Fuel?

    11. Geothermal Power
    Geothermal Overview
    Geothermal Technologies
    Environmental Impacts
    Geothermal Use Worldwide
    U.S. Geothermal Use
    Vignette: Geothermal in Iceland

    12. Fusion & Future Technologies
    Vignette: The National Ignition Facility
    Fuel Cells & Hydrogen Power
    Other Proposed Energy Sources

    Part 3. Cross-Cutting Energy Issues

    13. Transportation
    Cars & Trucks
    Vignette: Electric Vehicles When the Electricity Comes from Fossil Fuels
    Technological Advances in Transport

    14. Air & Water Pollution
    Air Pollution
    Water Pollution

    15. Climate Change
    Greenhouse Gases & the Greenhouse Effect
    The Climate as a Total System
    Human Emissions from Industrialization to the Present
    Impacts of a Changing Climate
    Towards a Solution

    16. Geopolitical Challenges
    Oil Geopolitics
    Pipelines & Natural Gas Geopolitics
    Nuclear Proliferation
    Water Wars

    17. The Future of Energy
    Energy Switching
    Unpredictability as to Our Energy Future


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