2. Global Population Growth and Migration

For centuries, scholars have studied the stories of the past to predict what will happen in the future. Our story begins in the very distant past—400 million years ago, to be exact. In a sparsely populated area that would later encompass the United States’ upper Great Plains region and Canada’s southernmost provinces, a massive petroleum deposit formed within and beneath a 15,000-square-mile shale bed.

Advancing to the 1950s, the most significant petroleum deposit ever unearthed in North America was discovered on the property of North Dakota grain farmer Henry Bakken. Back then, Williston, North Dakota, was fairly unknown outside the plains and was not the center of any major industrial activity. In 1953 ...

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