From Michael Klare, the renowned expert on natural resource issues, an invaluable account of a new and dangerous global competition
The world is facing an unprecedented crisis of resource depletion—a crisis that goes beyond "peak oil" to encompass shortages of coal and uranium, copper and lithium, water and arable land. With all of the planet's easily accessible resource deposits rapidly approaching exhaustion, the desperate hunt for supplies has become a frenzy of extreme exploration, as governments and corporations rush to stake their claim in areas previously considered too dangerous and remote. The Race for What's Left takes us from the Arctic to war zones to deep ocean floors, from a Russian submarine planting the country's flag on the North Pole seabed to the large-scale buying up of African farmland by Saudi Arabia, China, and other food-importing nations.
As Klare explains, this invasion of the final frontiers carries grave consequences. With resource extraction growing more complex, the environmental risks are becoming increasingly severe; the Deepwater Horizon disaster is only a preview of the dangers to come. At the same time, the intense search for dwindling supplies is igniting new border disputes, raising the likelihood of military confrontation. Inevitably, if the scouring of the globe continues on its present path, many key resources that modern industry relies upon will disappear completely. The only way out, Klare argues, is to alter our consumption patterns altogether—a crucial task that will be the greatest challenge of the coming century.
In this meticulously researched account of the coming shortage of natural resources, journalist Klare (Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet) describes the impact this scarcity will have on the future of the human race. In levelheaded prose, he tells how a rising need for fuel, industrial metals, minerals, and farmland will create a dearth with global environmental, political, and financial implications. Even now, tensions are simmering, with governments skirmishing and large corporations ruthlessly competing for control over dwindling reserves. Moving through the catalogue of precious materials, Klare summarizes the extreme explorations that have already begun, from the Arctic to the Sahara and the dark canyons at the bottom of the ocean. As accessible sources are depleted and more risky endeavors become the only way satisfy demand, devastating catastrophes like the explosion at BP's Deepwater Horizon rig will only multiply. But an aggressive race for what's left isn't a long-term strategy, Klare reminds us. What's needed is a "race to adapt" an attempt to find a sustainable approach to extraction and consumption that will benefit us all.