Map of the Week: Known Sources of Primary Wealth, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania has gotten a lot of attention this election season, as a key swing state that President Trump won over Hillary Clinton in 2016– the first time a republican presidential candidate had won the state since 1988– and as a place that lies at the convergence of several key issues for this year’s candidates.

This map, published jointly by the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Internal Affairs, and Mines (presumably state departments and not national ones) in 1948, shows the sources of wealth, or what one could call primary capital-attracting industries, of the state. The cities are blacked out on the map to indicate their areas– highlighting their main function as separate from the other “products of mother earth” pictured on the map. As the map states, mines at the time made up “67 per cent of primary wealth, totaling $1,000,000,000 a year”.

Environmental policy, especially connected to fracking and the Green New Deal, has become a major talking point in the election as worries about jobs associated with fossil fuel industries are threatened by economic change, climate change, and a global pandemic. Joe Biden has highlighted his connections to Scranton’s working class, but in response to President Trump’s criticism has repeatedly assured that he will not ban fracking. Check out this interactive map of fracking in Pennsylvania by NPR, showing concentrations of fracking south of Pittsburgh and north of Scranton and including links to information on whether or not specific wells have been cited for violating environmental regulations.

How does the material world and evolving uses of technology change the importance of “primary sources of wealth” over time, and how might different forms of accumulation affect people and their politics? If we take the advice of the map and assume that “atmosphere and underground water supply are precious mineral resources” and that all wealth is dependent on human resources, what is necessary to recognize and care for them as such?

Have a good week,

Aidan Antonienko ‘21

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