Should there be any controls over the production of energy when the need for it is so great?

Define

Production of energy: refers to the production of petroleum (crude oil), natural gas, coal and other alternatives such as electricity and even nuclear energy etc.

Controls- what kinds/methods of controls? Controls over the quantity of production? Controls over the kind of energy to have?

This question assumes that energy production should be produced as long as demand meets supply needs in the market. There should not be any controls by any nations to artificially restrict the supply in order to push up the price of this much-needed resource, as it could be seen as unethical.

Yes there should be controls

  1. Controls are essential to ensure that no rouge nations have access to production of these essential energy supplies, which they can use as a leverage against other nations. It is detrimental if production falls into the hands of an extremist state especially if the state decides to pursue nuclear production as a form of clean energy for their state. This phenomenon has the potential to disrupt world security and peace.
    For instance, countries that would like to pursue nuclear energy should be under the checks and supervision of the United Nations (UN) yearly in order to ensure that they are really using it for energy and not to build up a nuclear war zone to use against other nations. There has to be some checks and balances involved and accountability to the rest of the nations.
  2. Countries that are highly dependent on oil or any energy source for that matter as part of their country’s revenue should look into controlling production, as oil is their main source of income. Cheap oil and energy prices have widespread ramifications that go beyond their own countries. Demand will automatically adjust itself due to such expensive prices.
    For example, many Arab states have been hurt by the low oil prices recently as they are dependent on the revenue of oil for their social spending, otherwise it will result in a social turmoil in their states. Cheap oil does not necessary mean well as it will lead to a widespread unemployment in many industries, which may stall future economic growth. Also, countries that are dependent on oil may witness their currencies plummeting with cheap oil prices. Malaysia, Australia and even Indonesia have seen their currencies losing value in this last one year due to cheap oil and commodities prices. If such a situation continues, the world may be thrown into a currency crisis.
  3. Greater innovation and research into alternative energies are likely to follow when there is high-energy price following production restriction. This is to meet the high demand of these energy resources. This helps to develop the world in terms of green technology, and allow industries to pursue more efficient methods of production for sustainable development in the world.
    For instance, Japan and Germany have been looking at investing in wind, solar and even uranium to supply their energy needs. Developments have taken place to reduce the usage of oil through electric cars in the market. Telsa has been one such example of electric cars that is likely to replace fuel-emission cars today.

No, there should not be controls

  1. Countries should be free to pursue their own energy self-sufficiency so that no country can have a political leverage over them, especially when demand for energy is so high.
    Production should be left up to the supply and demand of the world economy considering how oil is seen as a precious natural resource that every nation needs in order to run their economies. Due to this importance of oil, the restriction of the supply and production of oil has the ability to create war and tensions among countries fighting for this natural resource, and any restriction or embargo could manifest itself in a full-scale war.
    An example would be Japan’s aggression in the Second World War due to an embargo. Also, the USA has been investing in their shale gas revolution so that they can be a net exporter of oil in order to have energy self-sufficiency. USA does not want to be dependent on the cartel in the Middle East (OPEC) to meet their demands of oil, as it would mean that OPEC has a strong political leverage over the USA.
  2. It is to most countries’ benefit in the long run if there is no restriction to the production of energy. When technology advances to the point that there is an oversupply of oil like currently, this will be met with a drop in price of energy. Oil has plummeted from US120 a barrel to as low as US42 a barrel, and this “cheap oil” has been welcomed by many industries that are highly dependent on oil for growth.
    For instance, airlines and transportation will have better profit margins due to cheaper oil and this has translated to cheaper air tickets allowing the mass-market to benefit from this. Also, in Singapore, our transportation fares have been adjusted downwards in 2015 due to cheaper oil that has resulted in a lower production cost for SMRT, and these extra cost savings can be passed on to consumers, helping to ease the burden of the lower socio-economic class. Finally, core inflation has dipped for many nations worldwide due to cheaper energy costs such as natural gas and oil, and this has helped to improve the standard of living of many individuals.

Notes

Students should note that by the nature of the subject, there is several other possible pointers too, so feel free to discuss freely below!

Back to: 2015 A’levels H1 General Paper (8807) suggested solutions

17 Comments

  • Pamela

    Couldn’t the EOI also be about whether to control the production of energy when it is essential to drive economic growth versus the detrimental effects of energy production.

  • Annabel

    Hello, thanks for putting up the answers. 🙂

    For this question, my points were control is needed because
    1) some forms of energy (nuclear energy) is destructive when fallen into the wrong hands
    2) productive of energy can result in conflicts between countries like the building of dams affecting other countries adversely
    3) other forms damage the environment like shale gas, which can pollute aquifers and reduce water supply.

    On the other hand, control is not needed because of increasing population and an emerging middle class which demand more energy.

    are my points alright and will i be penalised badly because i did not explicitly define control? 🙁

    • Christine Chen

      Its ok if you didn’t explicitly define control. However, you can’t just discuss the reasons for control and not. It’s not a black or white essay. For every point, you need would to link to the fact that there is growing demand, but why there should be or should not be control. Hope this clarifies.

  • Hi! I appreciate the suggested answers being uploaded. I was wondering if what i wrote made sense:
    1)No controls needed as economic growth is needed. example: Kyoto Protocol in 2005 about Canada.
    2)Fossil Fuels are a finite resource and country’s aims are to have sustainable economic growth. Therefore, controls and regulation is needed.
    3)Nuclear energy is good but dangerous since it has the potential to harm the environment and us. Also, the Uranium used for nuclear energy is also a finite resource at the same time. Therefore controls are needed. Example used: Chernobyl incident.
    4)Controls are not needed for alternative production methods of energy like solar energy because its fullest potential has not been met so we should allow further advancements in this field. Also, it is using the god-given environment to help provide energy. Example used: Solar Impulse 2 on using solar energy to power a plane during the day and flying at night.
    I will appreciate it if you replied, thank you!

    • Christine Chen

      Hi Brandon, thanks for your comment. Yes your arguments are valid, but please note that you would need to set a criteria for these arguments. For instance, controls are needed for nuclear energy despite overwhelming demand for energy, because the cost of any nuclear disaster far outweighs any potential benefits we can get from harnessing these extra energy. This essay isnt just a simple listing of why energy should be control or not. Hope this clarifies.

  • Yong Qing

    Hi, i did this question, but i did not especifically define control, it was just vague mentions here and there, will this be a markdown? As for my points, i talked about the global warming caused by coal burning, driving up cost of corn for biofuels leading to low SOL for the poor and the destruction caused by nuclear accidents—> therefore control is needed. Moreover, if there’s no control, there will be over exploitation of resources which is not sustainable in the long run for the whole world etc. Counter point saying there should be exceptions for developing countries as they need the economic growth and they can deal with environmental problems after they become developing countries.
    Is my answer valid?

    • Christine Chen

      yes your answer is valid, but to answer the question specifically, you would need to mention about the desirability of control. Control is a key term for this essay, it is not just merely asking about the merits and demerits of energy production.

  • Katherine

    Hello! May I ask if my approach to this question was okay? During the exam I only treated the “need for energy” as a condition but after thinking about it I realised that it could also mean that there needs to be constant comparison between the need for control and the need for energy. So here are my points:

    1) Environment: In developing countries where they require cheap and readily available source of energy (carbon), there may be inefficient production of energy (eg poor cooling system-> more fuel needed to produce the same amount of energy). Hence strict regulations should be out in place to not only protect the environment from unnecessary pollution, but also for sustainable use, especially because there will be growing demands in the future.

    2) Employment: Many countries are shifting to greener energy production methods. (Eg Copenhagen opting to go carbon neutral by 2025) This means coal/oil companies will be suffering from lower demands, leading to serious structural unemployment, especially for an industry as huge as it is. This is made worse by how countries are pledging to reduce their carbon footprint as soon as possible, allowing narrow time for the market to adjust. Hence the government should have forward looking measures on how resolve this.

    3) Safety: Profit driven corporates may see the emerging green energy market as an opportunity to earn. The growing demands drive these corporates to adopt more reckless methods of energy production. (Eg toxic waste from poor handling of green energy source). Hence government need to have strict regulations to avoid this. (I did not talk about nuclear at all)

    Conclusion: I added in a part on politics where since there are many players involved in a political decision, the government needs to have control on the policies to ensure they cater to each of these players. (Eg Obama clean power plan, many critics thought it will slow growth and raise electricity prices) (I think this is a very bad conclusion)

    So will I go naq? 🙁 Thank you for your time!

    • Christine Chen

      Hi dear, u have definitely answer the question based on the points that you have raised. However, you didn’t seem to address the part where “demand is so great”. Is this not a justifiable point at all to produce more, since we all need more energy?

  • Liz

    I split controls of energy production into type and amount of energy production and talked about conditions in developing and developed nations that make controls necessary.

    1)no need for controls on amount of energy production if a sustainable clean and renewable resource is being used: example UK tidal energy cannot be overexploited. Should be used especially because UK demand for energy is great.

    2) no controls in developing nations because their fluorishing manufacturing sectors, which they rely heavily on, require a lot of energy and they may not have enough resources to be dedicated to alternative energy resource research.
    These developing nations need their economic growth because it is key for country’s development. Funds have to be channeled into areas such as infrastructure and welfare to raise standard of living which should be a priority given that it is not high in developing countries. Example, China ‘s heavy usage of coal has been crucial in the development of the country. (I explained the example in the actual essay)

    3) but there needs to be on control on type of energy production no matter where especially when energy production is detrimental to environment. Even when energy demand is so great, there has to be controls as damage done to the environment is irreversible. example coal emissions cause the depletion o ozone layer. Seemingly harmless solar panels and wind farms are also harmful to the environment because solar panels are laced with toxic metal cadmium and wind farms kill a lot of birds .

    4) there also needs to be strict controls to prevent pernicious effects of certain types of energy production on human health. Human health should not be compromised at any cost even when energy demand is so great. Example: battery energy production in China resulting in lead poisoning. 52000 premature deaths annually in the US because of coal emissions. Strict control on the process of energy production too. Example, disposal of radioactive waste generated from nuclear energy.

    5) there needs to be control over type of energy production especially in developed nations since they can afford to spend money on developing alternative energy sources even though they have a lot of demand as they are very urbanized. Example Ireland and its heavy reliance on geothermal and hydroelectric power. Even though Ireland invests a lot in alternative energy research, it has been able to recover from economic setbacks. Even Singapore uses horticultural waste to power the domes of Gardens by the Bay. There needs to be control because these sources are cleaner for the environment.

    Thank you very much! 🙂 I explained each example in my actual essay but I cannot remember much..

  • Vanessa

    Hi i did this qn too but im bot sure whether my answer is correct?

    Should not:
    1.) there should not be any control and all energy resources should be exploited to the fullest to meet the great demand for energy to allow for economic growth since it is most countries’ aim

    Should have control:
    1.) the production of energy should be controlled to ensure that it is environmentally friendly and does not release harmful substances into the environment, preventing the increase in rate of global warming

    2.) energy production should be controlled to meet great demands to ensure it is safe for humans eg avoiding nuclear energy to prevent disasterous consequences like the fukushima power plant incident

    3.) energy production should be controlled in a sustainable way to meet the demand for it, eg switching to alternative renewable energy sources

    4.) energy should be produced in the most cost efficient manner to maximise profits for the country eg using burning waste material from animals and biofuel

    Pls let me know whether my answers are correct thank you:)

  • Huiying

    Hi im not sure whether my answer is correct><

    Should not have control:
    – all energy resources should be exploited to the fullest to produce energy and meet the great demand for it allowing for economic growth in most countries

    Should have control:
    1.) production of energy should be controlled in an environmentally friendly way to prevent the rate of global warming from increasing

    2.) production of energy should be controlled in a safe way to prevent dire consequences like the fukushima power plant incident

    3.) production of energy should be controlled in a cost efficient way to allow countries to maximise profits eg using biomass

    4.) production of energy should be controlled to ensure a sustainable source of energy eg using renewable sources

  • STUDENT 189

    This is how I would attempt the question:

    Should there be any controls over the production of energy when the need for it is so great?

    Should — Must relate to desirability/ need/ obligation to adopt controls
    Controls — limits on production volume and production methods
    Production of energy — Nuclear/ Solar/ Fossil fuels/ Hydro-electric
    Need for it is so great — conditional statement

    Antithesis: There should be no controls since employing limits would restrict output and push up energy prices which makes it inaccessible to many. This is especially undesirable given the huge need for energy.

    I tried to use the undesirability of controls to justify why controls should not be adopted.
    Examples would probably be non-specific to any country and would just make mention of the less developed world where energy accessibility remains an issue.

    Thesis: There should be controls (because it is desirable) over the production of energy because the pros of doing so far outweigh the cons of doing so, even when we take into consideration the pressing need for energy.

    Argument 1: There should be controls on the volume of output to safeguard the future of our environment. This is a far more pressing need as compared to the current need for energy.
    We can consider speeches and statistics made by Al Gore during his 2000 presidential bid or the fact that coastal towns and cities (of which Manhattan and Singapore are part of) may end up being submerged or destroyed by climate change.
    Surely the need to protect such environments and the lives of the people living there far outweighs the problem of insufficient energy when controls are put in place?
    Evaluation: Short term loss for Long term gain (Trade-off)

    Argument 2: There should be controls over the methods of production because without it, the drive for profits will make corporations undertake unethical practices that would come back to haunt humanity.
    E.g. Nuclear Power and Hydro-electric dams that destroys natural environments, displace populations and can lead to deaths.
    The key difference between argument 1 and 2 should be the focus on irreversible environmental damage for the former and proliferation of unethical practices for the latter. Argument 1 does not specifically mention that the destruction of the environment is due to unethical practices. After all, if you burn firewood, you pollute the environment but it is hardly unethical or unconscionable.

    Argument 3: There should be controls over the methods of production because this safeguards our core resource and ensures that we will have energy to sustain our standard of living going into the future. Surely it is more desirable to sacrifice a little in energy consumption now to ensure that we at least have energy in the future?
    When elaborating, there might be room to bring in Garrett Hardin’s paper on the Tragedy of The Commons and how plundering earth’s natural resources (for energy generation or otherwise) will lead to an inefficient outcome with reduced welfare for all.
    Then again, if you have read the paper, you could also convert his argument into the antithesis stand. After all, he argues that conscience is self-eliminating and by placing controls on production, a country subjects its own producers of energy and people to more difficulty (i.e. higher costs and premiums for energy) while the rest of the world stands idly by and continues polluting without controls. Hence, you could also make mention that controls should be implemented across the board in order for it to be effective because if you think about it, the country upon realizing it is getting the short end of the stick, is very likely to end up dropping the controls. You can consider the failure of the Kyoto Protocol and how those countries that ratified the agreement till today, have not actually kept to their promised carbon emission targets.

    Conclusion: Lastly, I feel that for an environment question, there is always opportunity for an emotional end/hook to the essay. Maybe you can attempt to end along the lines of humanity’s role and duty not just to the environment but to future generations to come.

    Thank you for making it till here if you did!

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