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The Race for What's Left: The Global Scramble for the World's Last Resources [Englisch] [Taschenbuch]

Michael T. Klare
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15. Januar 2013
The world is facing an unprecedented crisis of resource depletion - a crisis that encompasses shortages of oil, coal and natural gas, copper and cobalt, water and arable land. With all of the Earth's habitable areas already in use, the desperate hunt for supplies has now reached the final frontiers. "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 under the North Pole to the large-scale buying up of African farmland by Saudi Arabia and other nations. With resource extraction growing more complex, the environmental risks are becoming increasingly severe - and the intense search for dwindling supplies is igniting new border disputes. The only way out, Klare argues, will be to alter our consumption patterns altogether, a crucial task that will be the greatest challenge of the coming century.

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The Race for What's Left: The Global Scramble for the World's Last Resources + Resource Wars: The New Landscape of Global Conflict + Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet: The New Geopolitics of Energy
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  • Taschenbuch: 320 Seiten
  • Verlag: Picador; Auflage: Reprint (15. Januar 2013)
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • ISBN-10: 1250023971
  • ISBN-13: 978-1250023971
  • Größe und/oder Gewicht: 21 x 14 x 2,1 cm
  • Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 3.0 von 5 Sternen  Alle Rezensionen anzeigen (1 Kundenrezension)
  • Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 303.963 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)

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"A first-rate, well-researched wake-up call."---"The Christian Science Monitor""Outstanding...Exhaustively researched, beautifully written, and convincingly argued."---"The Huffington Post""Stunning."---"Rolling Stone""Reading this book, it's hard not to think about postapocalyptic fiction....Think Margaret Atwood, Cormac McCarthy, and, most recent, Suzanne Collins's Hunger Games. Yet novelists often skip over the messy parts along the road to dystopia. It's scary to think that Klare, far from crying wolf, might be providing the sordid details in real time."---"Science News""If you think oil is the only major thing we're running short of, think again....Crisp, authoritative...A guidebook to wars to come."---Adam Hochschild, author of "King Leopold's Ghost"

Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende

Michael T. Klare is the author of fourteen books, including "Resource Wars" and "Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet." A contributor to "Current History," "Foreign Affairs," and the "Los Angeles Times," he is the defense correspondent for "The Nation" and the director of the Five College Program in Peace and World Security Studies at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts.


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Es ist sehr schön einmal eine Zusammenfassung der Situation zu lesen, wie viel denn noch wo steckt. Und zwar so, dass ein normaler Mensch das auch versteht.
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53 von 60 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Interesting and Informative 18. März 2012
Von Robert S Bogner - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
Well worth your time and money. Michael Klare clearly describes hhow the earth's ever decreasing non-renewable resources , combined with the ever increasing demand for them, will contribute to an expensive and frantic "Race for What's Left." He exapnds on three components of this race; energy,minerals,and agriculture (the section concerning agriculture is especially absorbing). He then describes how this may eventually lead to armed conflicts, and will eventually lead to the switch to renewables.
The book is written in a rather easy to read textbook style, and very clealy depicts the necessary projections from our current dependance on non-renewable resources.
17 von 17 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
3.0 von 5 Sternen A tortoise, not a hare 26. Januar 2013
Von Cecil Bothwell - Veröffentlicht auf
The information conveyed in Michael T. Klare's latest book is important, even critical to our common future. We're between a hard place and a rock, and the rock doesn't contain enough useful minerals or topsoil to save our bacon. Klare's work can be viewed as a useful resource for policy makers and industrialists who might want an overview of the problems we face.

That said, the book feels padded out, like a great idea for a longish think-piece in a serious magazine that was bulked up to make a book. Weary of the repetition, I began to skim the last half, reading intros and conclusions to chapters rather than spending my time wading through the jetsam.

I get it already. There are too many people on board this little planet, and all of them want to live like Americans. It won't work, long term. Famine is extremely likely. War is probable. The next half century is going to be difficult at best, tear-inducing in many ways, and utterly miserable for the poorest billion or so.

As Aimee Mann sang it (in a different context) "That's how I knew this story would break my heart."
68 von 81 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
3.0 von 5 Sternen Worthy subject.. disappointing book... 1. Mai 2012
Von StillLearning - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
I was really looking forward to reading this book. When I got it, I found it very disappointing. There are two problems that I have with this book. The first is the style that it is written in, the second is the coverage and structure.

I found the style too anecdotal. I would have preferred something more academic. I felt as if I was wading through a lot of gumpf, before I got to any facts. The second issue here is that it focuses on narrow examples, rather than giving you an overview. I don't want to read a great detail about Gabon before I see Africa addressed as a continent for example. I find the style similar to CNN stlye reportage; high on emotive topics and narrow perspective, low on facts. It reads as if the author has an agenda and points to examples to prove his case. I would prefer a presentation of the facts rather than to be told what I should think. It feels as if I am reading propaganda despite the seriousness of the issues.

As for structure, I would have preferred to see the book start with some kind of historical perspective, talking about Limits of Growth etc, before then going on to explain the geopolitical context (such as Zbigniew Brzezinski's the Grand Chessboard). That is, the current economic situation in the US and Europe vs BRIC etc, the US objectives in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and so on. We get none of this. All in all the coverage seems patchy, with too much time spent on some areas not enough on others. Flicking through the chapters I expected to see one entitled "Water Security", but nothing.

Instead of this, the book starts with the story of a Russian submarine captain planting a flag on the floor of the arctic. Flicking through the chapters reveals a similar anecdote at the start of each chapter.

I have to say that I find this book almost unreadable. I would give it 1 star of it was not for the fact that the chosen topic is so important. Even a bad book is better than no book, and I commend the authors attempt to bring this important subject matter to peoples attention.

If anyone knows of a serious treatment of this topic, that reads less like propaganda, and is far less insulting to the intelligence of the reader, then I would love to know of it. I thought this might be the definitive version on the topic. If anything, this kind of rhetoric actually undermines the arguments in favour of a serious analysis of global resource depletion.
11 von 11 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen Our race to oblivion 17. Januar 2013
Von Stephen Zielinski - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Taschenbuch|Verifizierter Kauf
The prolific Michael Klare has produced another book -- "The Race for What's Left" -- addressing the dangers we will face in the coming years, dangers which express our strong dependence on the earth and its material abundance along with our inability to create global political institutions which secure peace and prosperity. It is worthy read as are Klare's previous books on this subject. In his latest, he addresses a few simple theses:

1. The demand for natural resources will continue to grow
2. The supply of these resources will continue to shrink
3. The search for new sources of hydrocarbons, common and uncommon minerals, water and arable land will intensify over time and likely will generate resources wars.

In a nutshell, we are now passing from an "easy-resource world" to a "hard-resource world." This claim encapsulates a few disturbing facts: Existing oil wells no longer produce at the rate they once had and once productive mines have become stingy. These key resources have peaked or will peak soon, and this fact will drive commerce in the future. More importantly, fallow and potentially productive farm land has become scarce in various locales due to overuse, desertification, urbanization and other destructive forms of consumption. We can expect food shortages to intensify as time passes. Furthermore, increasing demand will augment this `natural' scarcity. Brazil, Russia, India and China are industrializing (or reindustrializing in Russia's case). Other countries have also taken off. Many are trying to develop their productive capacity and their natural resources. The industries in many of these countries are now competitive in the global market and will consume a growing share of the planet's raw goods. They will produce finished or near-to-finished goods, some of which will be shipped abroad and some of which will supply their local `haves' with the commodities of a `modern' consumer culture. Consumer demand, the system of production it drives and the quest for profits will thus continuously diminish the quantity of available raw materials. These goods are finite in number and, in some cases, lack an adequate substitute. Impelled by local and global demand as well as by the scarcity of the materials needed to compete, countries and firms will intensify their search for new sources of these increasingly scarce resources. Finding and using these goods will be neither easy nor cheap. We can expect competition for these resources to be intense.

This, therefore, is the race for what's left: We have consumed so much of the planet's resources that we can only renew our supply of these materials by finding new sources, mostly in inhospitable locales. We can also expect these new sources to be either less productive than the sources they replace or made to produce only with more effort, greater risks and higher costs. Arctic drilling and mining provide the exemplary cases of this problem. They are not the only cases, however. Worst of all, the race for what's left can never end given the nature of a modern and global economic system. Resource use today necessarily generates the scarcity of tomorrow.

Klare, oddly enough, gives little attention to one resource now in decline: An environment fit for human habitation. Global warming can and will likely become a species threat. Industrial waste befouls the land, water and atmosphere. A proud humankind may not survive the externalities generated by its supposed achievements. Of course, the global warming catastrophe has already begun, and the task humans must complete to survive goes well beyond taking measures that will ensure we avoid that dire situation. There is no magic bullet solution to this situation. The task instead requires pulling on the brake handle before it becomes too late to save ourselves and the world we have long inhabited.

It may have been inevitable that "The Race for What's Left' will not inspire hope for the future. The race is driven by the need to conserve the industrial method of production, techniques and resource usage which cause global warming and resource depletion. The sense I got from reading Klare's book is that we can expect national states to seek to secure the resources they need before it is too late to do so, too late to keep pace in a increasingly ruthless world economic system. Capitalist firms, on the other hand, will continue to seek out profitable uses for their technological capabilities and, of course, their property in general. The fortunate ones may take superprofits from their efforts, using resource scarcity to extract rents from the consumers of their goods. The stakes for these firms are very high and will increase in the future since countries and firms that fail to compete in the emerging markets can end in social disintegration, subjugation and bankruptcy because of their failure. Path dependent development entails confronting a socio-political rigidity that can prove fatal. Why fatal? At present, the world devotes little to the effort to pull on the brake handle, to radically alter the direction of material progress. Rather, it devotes treasure and blood reproducing the disaster.

The situation grows increasingly dire, and hopes for the future depend upon the human capacity for reasonable thought and action as well as for generating solidarity among humanity's diverse parts. In this situation -- yoked as we are to techniques and social forms which cannot sustain themselves -- gaining hope for the future entails confronting the hopelessness of our very modern predicament.

I gave "Race for What's Left" four stars. It is an accessible, well-researched and timely intervention into the world public sphere. I deducted a star because it is not the definitive work on the subject, although I should state that Klare clearly did not mean it to be such.
8 von 11 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen The longer we wait to start the race to adapt, the fewer the people who will reach the finish-line 6. Oktober 2013
Von Alice Friedemann - Veröffentlicht auf
We're about to invade the last areas on earth to drill for oil and mine ore essential to the survival of modern industrial civilization. The rate of exploitation has sped up to a blur as more nations compete for the same resources. What's left could mostly be gone in less than a generation, unless war erupts as nations fight over the scraps. Certainly more oil spills, explosions, pollution, chemical leaks, biodiversity loss, and other environmental disasters will grow in frequency and severity as the race gets increasingly desperate.

Klare writes "And this is only the beginning. As the race for what's left gains momentum, it will intrude with greater force into world affairs, threatening the survival of animal species, local communities, giant corporations, and entire nations. The global economy as it currently stands cannot grow and prosper without an increasing supply of numerous critical resources--but acquiring these materials will pose an ever greater threat to the safety and stability of human society and the natural world" (p210).

Klare's understanding of what we need to do is spot on -- he warns that what we should be doing is racing to adapt, not racing to plunder what's left. In the long run, the nations that adapt will come out ahead.

Klare thinks that governments will use increasing force and deployment of combat troops in nations with resources. As countries increasingly try to secure resources by military means, the risk of war increases. Klare and many others believe war is most likely to break out in the East and South China seas, which have a lot of oil and natural gas reserves (p 223). But Klare mentions plenty of other regions where war could start.

When I saw the chart on page 24 of the enormous amount of resources consumed between 1950 and 2000 -- at an increasingly exponential rate -- I was amazed anything was left, no wonder the time left is so short. For example, between 1950 and 2000, the production of Bauxite went up 1,513%, Natural gas 1,082%, Crude oil 618%, and copper 399%.

Oil is the master resource that unlocks all of the others, since 97% of transportation runs on oil, yet we rely for a quarter of our oil on only 20 large fields discovered decades ago (p 22). Two-thirds of world oil comes from these and other large fields. The production from the largest 10 has already declined 30%.

Decline rate of large oil fields is 9.7% and it's accelerating

The average rate of decline for these large fields after peak production was 9% and this rate increased - in 2003 the rate was 8.7% but by 2007 it was 9.7% per year. Yikes, exponential decline. How much would your paycheck be in 10 years if every year the amount subtracted kept growing?

The rate of oil flow is going down too

Have you ever tried to force a frozen milk shake up a straw? Desperate as you might be,, you have to wait for it to melt a bit. We've used up the easy, shallow, light, sweet oil and we're left with mainly nasty, gunky, tar sands, heavy oil, and extra heavy oil that refuses to flow without a lot of extra cost and energy, leaving less energy and money to run the rest of society at a much slower rate. It's like having a million dollars in your bank account, but you can only take out a hundred dollars a month.

What's left is in smaller reservoirs and deeper areas that deplete faster than the old giant fields. Much of the last oil is offshore, where oil rigs are subject to hurricanes and storms, or icebergs, and far from where it's needed. Much is also in failed states where violence makes getting at the remaining resources tricky, or fragile ecosystems, such as the arctic.

Deepwater oil (depth of water over 1,000 feet)

Drilling and extracting oil in the deep ocean is so difficult and expensive it's often compared to space exploration. Oil companies are expected to spend $387 Billion dollars drilling offshore between 2010 and 2014. By 2020 10% of our oil will come from deepwater and ultra-deep wells. By then onshore and shallow-water oil wells will be in decline, so deepwater oil will be quite important.

Ultra-deep wells are drilled in 3,500 feet to 7,000 feet deep water and then another 30,000 feet beneath the ocean floor. Shell is drilling a well in 8,000 feet of water -- picture 6 Empire State Buildings stacked on one another.

Arctic Oil

About a quarter of the remaining oil is in the arctic region - perhaps 90 billion barrels, a 3 year supply for the world. The chunk within American territory is 26.7 billion barrels, as much as in Prudhoe Bay and several times more than what might be in ANWR.

Russia is the big winner with the potential of 219 billion barrels of oil equivalent (much of this is natural gas, not oil) from both Siberia and the Arctic.

Getting this oil out wont' be easy:

In winter the waters are covered with thick pack ice
The rest of the year ice floes pose a threat for drilling platforms and ships
Temperatures often drop below minus 40 Fahrenheit
Severe storms with gale-force winds sweep through
Most of the year the drilling rigs could easily be taken out by ice floes

Drilling could have these effects

Accelerated global warming
Harm to ocean wildlife and fisheries
If the pipeline from the well to the shore corrodes and leaks, catastrophic oil leak

If a blowout happens, that would be a true disaster in this fragile ecosystem. The arctic is too remote for quick help, there aren't service vessels, skimmers, or booms stockpiled, and nothing could be done if it happened in the winter.

Tar Sands

Canada has the potential to be able to get at 170 billion barrels (out of 1.7 trillion) from the Alberta tar sands (5.6 years worth of world-wide oil consumption). These sands are closer to coal than oil and need to be mined, and then a very energy intensive process is required to strip the oil from the sand using natural gas. This uses clean natural gas to make a dirty fuel, which has been compared to "using caviar to make fake crabmeat".

Klare never ventures into Energy Returned on Energy Invested in his book, but many systems ecologists believe that the EROEI or tarsands is at best 3 to 1, so this is not an energy resource that can outlast oil. The head of the nuclear engineering department at U.C. Berkeley, Per Peterson, said there are plans to build nuclear reactors to split off hydrogen to refine the oil sands with as well as provide the energy to do so, but given the tremendous EROEI of nuclear power plants, the ten years it takes to build one, and the increased risk of a disaster in such a harsh climate, this may be a pipe dream (the first pilot project is decades away). As climate change forces Homo sapiens toward the poles to survive, it would be a shame to have long-term nuclear waste to cope with.

Heavy and Extra Heavy Oil

Not only is that nastier and difficult to extract and process than conventional oil, as mentioned above, there are also more toxic wastes from the high sulfur content and other pollutants. Just like tar sands, it has to be heated and mixed with natural gas to get it to flow through pipelines.

Venezuela has about a trillion barrels of this glop, of which 652 billion barrels (22 years) might be recoverable, making this one of the largest reservoirs of unconventional petroleum in the world.

Oil Shale

Don't confuse this with shale oil. It's not really oil, it's a precursor called kerogen. Companies have been trying to figure out how to convert it for decades. In 2013 Royal Dutch Shell, which has been trying to get the shale oil out since 1982, gave up on it. Exxon Mobil gave up long ago too, after spending $5 billion trying.

Easy coal is gone

It's getting more difficult and dangerous to mine the remaining coal, because it's very deep underground. The shallow coal has been mined out. Going after the deeper coal increases cave-ins, and jolts from collapsing walls that can't hold the mountain above up anymore.

Mexico will start importing oil as soon as 2015

Mexico had the 2nd largest oil field ever discovered (after Ghawar in Saudi Arabia), but it's been declining rapidly, throwing Mexico into an economic crisis. Production has dropped 33% from 3.71 million barrels per day in 2006 to 2.48 million barrels per day (in 2013). The Mexican population is growing, so their own demand for oil is rising while production falls. By 2015 Mexico will stop exporting, and start importing oil, bad news for the USA because other oil will come from more distant and less reliable countries.


Some of the best wild places on earth are about to be ruined by mining

There are many examples of this in the book, I think the worst is the Pebble Project at Iliamna Lake in Alaska which couldn't possibly be guaranteed not to release the arsenic, mercury, and other toxic chemicals used to leach gold and copper from the ore. This would ruin the world's largest salmon fishery, which employs 12,500 people and which the Native Americans depend on for food, as well as much of the rest of this fragile arctic ecosystem.

Another of many areas to be ruined by mining is Ivindo National Park in Gabon where there's iron ore (p 132). Niger has large deposits of uranium, where about 10% of world output comes from (4,000 metric tons) and soon, perhaps, another 10% more if another mine opens up.

The Race for the last Uranium, copper, iron, bauxite, etc.

Even common minerals are growing scarce. Ores have less metal so the cost and energy to get it out increases. Some random facts from the book:

China is eager to find uranium abroad for their 11 nuclear power plants and 16 under construction, since they don't have large deposits themselves.
Afghanistan has lots of copper, iron, bauxite, gold, lead, tungsten, zinc, niobium and other minerals worth more than $1 trillion.
Mongolia has a lot of copper and gold, but it's so remote that building transportation and other infrastructure to get at it will cost $4.5 billion.
Mongolia also has coking-coal (to make steel), a higher grade than that used to generate electricity. They have the largest untapped reserves in the world, about 7.5 billion metric tons (how much will that raise the Earth's temperature?)

Rare Earth Elements, Platinum Group Metals (PGM), and other Essential metals

Clean energy applications are now using about 20% of the rare earth elements, much of them in advanced electromagnets and lightweight batteries (p 155). The Toyota Prius is especially dependent on rare earths, with each electric motor requiring 2 pounds of neodymium, and each battery 22 to 33 pounds of lanthanum. Other high-tech applications:

Scandium. Aluminum alloys, semiconductors, stadium lights

Yttrium. Lasers, fiber optics, energy-efficient light bulbs

Lanthanum. Hybrid electric motors and electric car batteries

Cerium. Lens polishers

Praseodymium Searchlights, aircraft parts, portable electronics

Neodymium. High-strength magnets, hybrid electric motors, portable electronics

Promethium. Portable X-ray units

Samarium. Glass manufacture, high-strength magnets

Europium. Energy-efficient light bulbs, fiber optics

Gadolinium. Neutron radiography

Terbium. high-strength magnets, hybrid electric motors, portable electronics

Dysprosium. High-strength magnets, hybrid electric motors, portable electronics

Holmium. Glass tint

Erbium. Metal alloys

Thulium. Lasers

Ytterbium. Stainless steel

Lutetium. None currently

Niobium. high-performance alloys for oil and gas pipelines

Manganese and vanadium. corrosion-resistant high-strength steels

Titanium. alloys used in air and space vehicles, lightweight armor

Gallium and indium. photovoltaic solar cells

Gallium. electronic devices, high-speed semiconductors, light-emitting diodes,

Indium. coatings for flat-panel displays, infrared detectors, high-speed transistors

Lithium. advanced motor-vehicle batteries, rechargeable batteries, wind turbines

Tantalum. automotive electronics, pagers, personal computers, portable telephones, cell phone capacitors and other compact electronic devices, as well as steel used in jet engines and nuclear reactors.

Platinum (PGM). automotive catalytic converters, hydrogen fuel cells

Palladium, iridium, rhodium, ruthenium, osmium (PGM). All have exceptionally high melting points, superb electrical conductivity, outstanding catalytic capabilities, excellent resistance to corrosion. Ideal for catalytic converters, in jet engines, and in portable electric devices. 25% of all manufactured goods either have these metals or were made on equipment that used them. For some key industrial applications no substitutes exist.

Essential Metals are Vulnerable to Supply Chain & single source failure

China started restricting export of rare earth metals, which alarmed other nations, since they're vital to high-tech products. The Department of energy estimates that China accounts for 95% of total worldwide rare earths production, other experts say it's even higher, 97%. Natural concentrations of rare earths are uncommon so they have to be pulled out of composite ores with lots of other minerals, including often radioactive ones, and that makes it both expensive and dangerous. To get the metals out requires acids that produce highly toxic wastes that can poison water and farmland. China is infamous for ignoring the environment to save money at a low cost, which drove other rare earth mining companies out of business.

Platinum group metals are exceptionally rare. They're found in very small amounts in just a few locations - 90% comes mainly from South Africa and Russia.

Tantalum comes from coltan, a columbite-tantalite mineral. Its key chemical properties are hard to find substitutes for. Most if the deposits are in the failed state the Democratic Republic of the Congo, by civilians forced at gunpoint to dig for tantalum, tin, tungsten, gold, and other minerals and carried out on foot to collection sites.

Many of these metals are essential, have no substitutes, and yet are subject to supply risks because only a few countries or companies mine them.

Peak food: Land Grabs for the last Arable Soil

Many countries are far beyond their ability to feed themselves (carrying capacity), and would be devastated if for some reason they were outbid for food on the open market, that they've taken to buying land all over the world to be sure they can feed their people.

Private investors also see fertile farmland as a great new asset class, so banks, hedge funds and other wealthy investors are buying vast tracts of land.

Arable land is getting to be as scarce as oil or minerals as 7 billion people continue to reproduce exponentially with few areas left that can be made into farmland.

Topsoil is eroding faster than new soil can form on about a third of the world's cropland (it takes up to 500 years for soil to recover from human civilization after a crash, which happens roughly every 1,500 years according to Montgomery's "Dirt: the erosion of civilizations").

Climate change is also expected to render a third of the planet uninhabitable at worst, and crop production much lower from desertification and extreme weather at best, making arable farmland even more valuable. Klare mentions `peak soil' on page 194, a term I first coined back in 2007 in Monbiot's Guardian article "A new generation of biofuels turns out to be another environmental disaster". My energyskeptic paper, "Peak Soil: Why Cellulosic and other Biofuels are Not Sustainable and a Threat to America's National Security" has a section called "Do you want to Eat, Drink, or Drive" because growing biofuel crops competes with edible crops, which will also drive up the price of farmland.

Two-thirds of the land being grabbed is in Africa. Other countries include Russia, and South America (Patagonia, Brazil, the Amazon). The countries buying this land are Saudi Arabia, China, India, South Korea and many others. Much of this is going on secretly, but Klare mentions several deals that total millions of acres, for example, both Saudi Arabia and South Korea have bought millions of acres in Ethiopia.

Wild lands are about to lose massive amounts of biodiversity, such as Kenya, where enormous sugarcane and jatropha plantations in the Tana River delta are taking over.

Two-thirds of China's land is arid grassland or desert, and what little arable land they have continues to be paved over or lost to desertification and other damage that goes back to Chairman Mao's insane assault on nature (see Shapiro's book "Mao's War Against Nature"). China is investing heavily in Brazil, Africa (Mozmbiuque, Zimbabwe, Benin, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Senegal, Cameroon, Mali, Uganda, Democratic Republic of the Congo), Venezuela, Australia, Argentina, Russia, the Philippines, Southeast Asia, Central Asia, and Russia).

Klare's vision of the future

Klare predicts that only the largest companies will be able to lay claim to what little is left and thrive, driving all others into bankruptcy at worst or being bought out at best. Likewise, only the strongest nations will succeed at gaining access to what's left, and nations' left behind will fall into hardship and decline. The competition between the remaining countries is likely to be ruthless (pp 213-214).

The risk of war increases as nations use their militaries to secure resource areas. The United States is very active in Nigeria, the Republic of Georgia, and the Persian Gulf kingdoms; China is heavily involved in Sudan, Zimbabwe, and Central Asian republics (p 221). Russia appears to be getting more aggressive in trying to kick Western companies out of former areas they controlled before the Soviet Union broke up.

China is especially clever at cutting very long-term deals for food, land, oil, and minerals in exchange for massive loans (p219), and builds good-will as well as the ability to make off with these goods by building infrastructure in foreign countries.

Klare notes that all of this can only end with natural resources vanishing, wilderness areas destroyed, most corporations going bankrupt, massive unemployment, and war. The local people in these remote areas will suffer the most, but in the end, we all will.

Much of the land being grabbed is stolen from local people, who will someday take their land back, especially as hunger grows and infrastructure falls apart - distant countries won't be able to fly or truck food to their homelands from the foreign land they "own".

His solution is that we should stop trying to get the last resources and begin a race to adapt. I disagree with him that this can be done with alternative energy, but he's right that efficiency is important - besides consuming less, that's really all we can do.

My Conclusion

I think Klare's "race to adapt" may become the new mantra as we reach the point where there's no other choice, but if we wait that long, it may be too late to try to adapt.

The race needs to be to adapt to a way of life we once had. The age of wood. We know what that lifestyle is. Billions of people are living that way now, from remote tribes and the desperately poor to those who've chosen this lifestyle, such as the Amish and back-to-the-landers. What's difficult is figuring out how to reconfigure our infrastructure now while we still have the energy to do so to make the future as pleasant as we can for future generations. Don't we owe the grandchildren that?

Before fossil fuels, it took 9 out of 10 people to grow food for the lucky 10% who were craftsmen, merchants, or in religious orders. We ought to be adapting now by figuring out how to get half of our population back to farming over the next 20-30 years, ideally small family farms that grow and make artisan food and other such products. If there's no planning, then the survivors of unplanned collapse will end up being peasants on large farms.

To get there, we'd have to find incentives for women to have just one child. I'd welcome hearing other kind ways to get back to our pre-fossil-fuel carrying capacity of 100 million people (meat and a glass of wine once a week, up to 250 million people eating oatmeal for breakfast, lunch and dinner).

Already the economy has stopped growing, and because of the net energy cliff, at most we can only hope to maintain slow-to-no-growth a decade or so by scavenging every last morsel of oil and minerals.

A shortage of any of energy resources or minerals will hasten collapse. Each depends on the other. Computers use over 66 minerals - if one or more are missing and computer chips and high-tech products can't be made, drilling and other energy resources can't be extracted either, because chip-driven computers, vehicles, satellites, and even toasters depend on high-tech products. So does the grid. Too bad high-tech products are built to fail, not just from planned obsolescence, but in many other ways.

Conversely, extracting metals from ore requires tremendous amounts of energy, so it's more likely an energy shortage will limit mineral resources than the other way around.

Decreasing energy also means less food can be grown and distributed, since trucks, tractors, harvesters, granaries, fertilizers, pesticides, and every other component of the agricultural supply chain depends on oil and natural gas.

The longer we wait to start the race to adapt, the fewer the people who will reach the finish-line.
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