Lesson Plan Overview

Oil Crisis:
Get Into The Game

How Bad Can It Get?

Life Is Starting To Change

Elasticity and Collapse

Oil Dependency
Among Nations

Food Without Oil


Preparation and Community

Lessons Learned

Your World Without Oil



Oil Dependency Among Nations

The long term prospects of an oil shortage have caused some nations to reconsider their foreign policy objectives. There is talk that some countries, the United States among them, are considering using military force to protect their oil supplies and secure more oil. While most nations have sped up their research into alternative energy sources, the short term demand has forced large industrialized nations to acquire oil at any cost.

For most of the game we focus on events within the United States, for this lesson we will be looking out beyond our borders. As you present developments in the oil crisis, ask the students to talk realistically about their concerns for the effects in their own lives, as if the oil crisis were really happening.

Lesson Objectives
Students will:

Before the Lesson

Part 1: Set the Stage
Student Page for this lesson is here:
This page summarizes ideas and instructions for students.

  1. Re-immerse the students: briefly remind them of what's happened previously in a World Without Oil.
  2. Then start today's lesson by having the students read the following World Without Oil blog posts:
  3. Show the satellite image of the Malacca Straits:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Asia_satellite_
  4. Your students are probably much more familiar with security troubles in the Middle East, in places such as Yemen: http://miawithoutoil.livejournal.com/1263.html

Part 2: Take Action
  1. Have students get into their groups and discuss their reactions to the citizen reports. Is the oil crisis making the U.S. more insecure?
  2. Does China have the right to militarily control a waterway in Indonesia? Why or why not? You might want to compare China's view about the Straits of Malacca and the U.S.'s view about the Strait of Hormuz :
  3. Now have the groups consider the actions of the United States in the game.  Have students compare the differences and similarities between the actions taken by China and the United States. Should a single powerful nation control a resource simply because it has the military might to defend its actions?

Part 3: Lesson Activity
  1. Provide each group with an outline map of the world. Have them find and label the world's top 15 oil-producing nations. EIA 2006 information: http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/cabs/topworldtables1_2.htm
    • Determine approximately how far the oil has to travel before it reaches the United States. Do oil tankers have to go through any treacherous waters to get to the United States?
    • Are all of these oil-producing countries currently friendly to the U.S.?
  2. How much oil do the top 15 oil-producing nations actually sell to the U.S.? United States oil imports by nation:  http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/dnav/pet/pet_move_impcus_a2_

  3. You'll notice on the chart used in (2) that oil exported to the United States by a given country usually varies considerably from year to year (Saudi Arabia is a good example). This is because oil is a fungible product, and producers generally sell their oil to whoever is willing to pay the highest price. What implications does this have during an oil crisis? Will the fast-growing economies of developing countries such as China and India compromise the ability of the United States to bid successfully for oil?
  4. The U.S. currently uses far more oil than any other nation (see http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/ene_oil_con-
    ) and an average American consumes twice as much oil as an average Italian. German or British citizen (see http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/
    ). Will this factor into decisions about who receives oil in the event of a global oil shortage?
  5. A nation's oil reserves typically have little immediate effect on an oil crisis, because nations are unable to retrieve the oil quickly. But over time oil reserves may be very important for a nation's influence and power. Have students compare their labeled world map with the Who Has The Oil? map at http://www.civicactions.com/sites/home2.civicactions.net/
    .  If you consider proximity, does the United States need be worried about the fast-paced industrialization of India and China?
  6. Have groups outline three foreign policy goals for the United States that revolve around the issue of oil.  Have the groups share their goals.
Part 4: Reflect
The United States, China, Western Europe, and India have significant oil needs, and alternatives to oil will take years or decades to develop. In the meantime, much of the oil supply for the United States has to travel vast distances. In this reflection the students should consider the following questions:

Part 5: Take It Further
Distribute this to your students:

Oil and energy-related situations arise throughout the world on a regular basis.  Many of the major oil producing nations of the world face domestic turmoil that could affect the price and the availability of petroleum.  To take it further today, go and explore oil-related current events.  Visit the Energy Bulletin Web site (http://www.energybulletin.net/) and select a region outside North America.  Look for news articles about countries that supply the United States with oil.  In your blog, summarize and analyze the importance of this information to the United States. What do these current events suggest might happen in an oil crisis?

Additional Resources
Energy Security   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_security
Energy Security   http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/security/

Independent Lens Electric Shadows Independent Television Service Corporation for Public Broadcasting Ken Eklund, Writerguy
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National Standards (McREL)

Overarching (All Lessons)

Standard 44.
Understands the search for community, stability, and peace in an interdependent world

Level IV (Grades 9-12), Benchmark 2:
Understands rates of economic development and the emergence of different economic systems around the globe (e.g., systems of economic management in communist and capitalist countries, as well as the global impact of multinational corporations; the impact of black markets, speculation, and trade in illegal products on national and global markets; patterns of inward, outward, and internal migration in the Middle East and North Africa, types of jobs involved, and the impact of the patterns upon national economies; the rapid economic development of East Asian countries in the late 20th century, and the relatively slow development of Sub-Saharan African countries)


Lesson 5: Specific Standards


Standard 16: Understands the major responsibilities of the national government for domestic and foreign policy, and understands how government is financed through taxation

Level IV,  Benchmark 1: Understands how specific foreign policies such as national security and trade policy affect the everyday lives of American citizens and their communities

Standard 22: Understands how the world is organized politically into nation-states, how nation-states interact with one another, and issues surrounding U.S. foreign policy

Level IV, Benchmark 7: Understands the idea of the national interest and how it is used as a criterion for shaping American foreign policy

United States History

Standard 30: Understands developments in foreign policy and domestic politics between the Nixon and Clinton presidencies

Level IV, Benchmark 1: Understands how the Nixon, Ford, and Carter administrations dealt with major domestic issues (e.g., policies for dealing with problems of recession and inflation; the Nixon administration’s "southern strategy;" Carter’s program for dealing with the energy crisis)

Level IV. Benchmark 5: Understands the influence of U.S. foreign policy on international events from Nixon to Clinton (e.g., the U.S.’s role in the evolving political struggles in the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and Latin America; foreign policy in the post-Cold War era; U.S. goals and objectives in the Middle East; the pros and cons of U.S. intervention in the Persian Gulf under Reagan and G.Bush; how human rights has been used in American foreign policy)


World History

Standard 44: Understands the search for community, stability, and peace in an interdependent world

Level IV, Benchmark 3: Understands major reasons for the great disparities between industrialized and developing nations (e.g., disparities in resources, production, capital investment, labor, or trade; possible programs and measures to help equalize these disparities)


State Standards (All Lessons)