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.
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.