Satellite imagery illustrates a reason 'Made in America' could rebound

Posted by mmcmullan on 10/07/2013

America all lit up at night makes for a pretty picture – and gives you an appreciation for just how dark it is in the spaces between our big cities. Just look, for instance, how sparse the light gets the as your eye travels farther west over the plains states.

But wait, your brain interjects as your eyes focus on the northwest corner of the picture. What in the Sam Hill is that large blob of light energy coming from, way out in the middle of nowhere past Minneapolis?

No, your first guess is wrong: Minot hasn’t experienced a population boom that you somehow missed out on. The light comes from the energy production in the oil and gas fields that have sprouted atop the Bakken formation. Because of it, North Dakota now accounts for a heckuva lot of America’s domestic oil production ... So much so that you can see the production in the form of burning oil rigs and natural gas flares from orbit.

America’s boom in energy production is one of the main reasons that U.S. manufacturing (and, hopefully, manufacturing employment)is poised for a rebound. So says a new book from MIT, Making in America. The new research is a follow-up on MIT’s 1989 “Made in America” report, and along with the energy boom it cites a lot of reasons it makes sense to make 'it' in America again. Among them are more competitive labor costs; technological advancements that will bring down the costs of capital investment; and, in the words of FastCo.Exist’s Jessica Lieber, the increasing “need for speed” between product development and product manufacturing.

Pretty cool stuff. Read more here, and check out MIT’s new manufacturing tome here.

Picture by Suomi NPP Satellite/NASA Earth Observatory.

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