By Michael Klare, the natural resources expert who told us that the disappearance of easy to access and extract “cheap oil” will lead to the development of unconventional energy resources like tar sands, oil shale, deepwater drilling, mountaintop removal, artic oil exploration and that these developments will come at growing environmental and human costs.
In this easy to read page-turner, Michael Klare argues that growing global demand for natural resources since the Industrial Revolution is now causing a major crisis of resource depletion: easy and cheap to access raw materials like wood, iron, copper, tin and coal, and more recently oil, natural gas, uranium, titanium and other specialized minerals are approaching exhaustion. Michael describes how multinational corporations and governments are increasingly competing in what he calls the “Race for What’s Left” to secure access, at escalating costs, to dwindling resources in increasingly remote locations like the deep oceans or the Arctic. In his view, the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico offers “only a preview of the dangers to come”. He illustrates how the race for resources inevitably results in tensions and conflicts – in the Falkland Islands that are contested by Argentina and the United Kingdom, it is believed that the region holds up to 18 billion barrels of oil, or in the East China Sea, or the Caspian Sea, to name a few examples. He warns that this struggle for resources intensifies friction between nations in ways that can lead to armed conflict and that we lack the institutions and global governance tools to properly address these geo-political challenges. According to Klare, our only way out is to dramatically alter our patterns of consumption, something he calls the “greatest challenge of the coming century”.
This dramatic call energy and resource productivity brings to mind two recent constructive and solutions-oriented books by practitioners on how to to reduce the pressure on natural resources through an energy and resource efficiency revolution:
– Reinventing Fire by Amory Lovins and the Rocky Mountain Institute on how America can overcome its oil and coal addiction by 2050 with a 158% bigger economy while saving $5 trillion (2010 net present value) – (Book Review coming soon).