Role Played by Scarcity of Resources in a Given Historical Period

2218 Words9 Pages
What is the role played by scarcity of resources in a given historical period? By the standards of the last decade of the 19th century, the question of scarcity of water whether purposed for agricultural irrigation, bourgeois refinements like bathtubs, social and religious obligations like Christian baptism or Mormon proxy-baptism of the dead, and indeed as a beverage that even Temperance crusaders like Mrs Rutherford B Hayes could approve seemed like a necessity for settling of arid regions, and the extension of American society into thitherto-unpopulated regions of the North American continent. To contextualize this issue of resource scarcity, imagine a man of the 1890s (William E. Smythe, perhaps) given access to a time machine: Smythe would likely find the early 21st century American reliance on fossil fuels and electricity to be bizarre. To suggest to Smythe that scarcity of electricity would be a sufficient cause for large-scale political action (as it was when California Governor Gray Davis was "recalled" in the wake of "rolling brownouts" and Enron-engineered fluctuations in the state's electricity supply) or that scarcity of petroleum and natural gas would be a sufficient cause for American occupation of far-flung regions like Iraq or Afghanistan would be almost inexplicable in terms of American economic and social organization in 1890 or 1895. This is not because the 1890s were immune to political machination based on resources in Smythe's own decade, a mining
Get Access