The Scramble for the World’s Last Resources

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Michael Klare discusses an unprecedented crisis of resource depletion facing the world. He argues that the problem that goes beyond “peak oil” to include shortages of coal and uranium, copper and lithium, water and arable land, and that the hunt for resources has led to exploration in areas once considered too remote or dangerous. In The Race for What’s Left: The Global Scramble for the World’s Last Resources Klare examines the consequences and argues that we must change our consumption patterns.


Michael Klare

Comments [19]

Larry Boutis from Westchester County

Your guest said that there is tracking for gas going on in New York now. I don't think so. Many of us are trying to prevent this.

Also, gas companies claim that there is at least 100 years of shale gas available in the US. But even the USGS, among others, has said that there is less than 20 years supply. Can we believe the gas companies, the same folks who said drilling in the Gulf is safe?

Mar. 21 2012 12:38 PM

Algae algae algae!

Mar. 21 2012 12:38 PM
Michael D. D. White from Brooklyn Heights

There was a brief discsussion about how often fracking wells leak. Most of that damage from fracking is very long term and too much of it, like leaking wells, won’t show up immediately: According to the industriy's own figures 5% of new wells leak but 50% leak eventually.

Mar. 21 2012 12:38 PM
Monica hinty

What about using algae as a biofuel?

Mar. 21 2012 12:36 PM
Andrew from Westchester

I'm curious about what Michael Klare has to comment on Helium reserves, which apparently are being squandered on party balloons.

Mar. 21 2012 12:35 PM
tom from bklyn

what about the huge nat resources in afghanistan? minerals etc

Mar. 21 2012 12:35 PM
MikeC from Manhattan

One factor that seems to be never taken into account is that if the hydrocarbons that we have been burning for the past 100 or so years were allowed to remain in the earth. They would probably ignite on their own(which they do from time to time) in an uncontrolled fashion and then could be the source of a greater disaster for the planet rather than the current situation of controlled burning and use of these resources to develop human civilization. This is not to say that we should not consider the results of our actions, but the earth continues to make hydrocarbons because of teh blanket of life that en-robes it.

Mar. 21 2012 12:33 PM

Don't we have lots of thorium for safe nuclear energy?

Mar. 21 2012 12:31 PM
sandra from nyc

Why isn't America developing more solar and wind power and hydroelectric plants?
Does that use up as many natural resources as digging for fossil fuels?

Mar. 21 2012 12:30 PM
Michael D. D. White from Brooklyn Heights

It is also good to remember that we also have energy resources that are becoming more much more plentiful rather than rare: In the last year the price of solar panels dropped by half. In essence that doubles the available energy. And solar panesl are becomeing much more efficient, perhaps by 10-fold. That more plentiful energy.

Mar. 21 2012 12:28 PM
Ruth from Brooklyn

I am by no means for exhausting all of our natural resources, but isn't it true that the Hudson River has potentially the world largest future oil reserve underneath it's bedrock?

Mar. 21 2012 12:27 PM
Molly from nyc

Why no discussion of solar or wind technologies? Everyone can access the sun... I guet not enough profit involved if everyone can access.

Mar. 21 2012 12:26 PM
CL from NYC

I appreciate the concern underlying his book, but I'm not hearing anything new. Nor am I hearing any well thought out, data-supported alternative strategies.

Mar. 21 2012 12:23 PM
Jeff Park Slope from Park Slope

Now we are finding that we can extract massive amounts of oil and gas from on-shore US land using new technology and this is lowering costs. No need to go to the moon. Your guest is saying that off-shore drilling is no longer effective, decades ago, that was not feasible. Technology evolves. Malthusian thinking has always turned out to be incorrect.
When I was in college, a non-Malthusian geology professor said that there are always going to be substitutes with one exception. He said if we run out of silver, there will be no photography. Interesting how on this one exception, he was wrong.
High world food prices are attributable to a large extent to US ethanol use requirements that have converted corn from a food to a fuel - very foolish and another example of a government screw-up and crony capitalism.

Mar. 21 2012 12:22 PM
Michael D. D. White from Brooklyn Heights

Since the price of things, fossil fuels such as gas and oil are fungibly detrmined (i.e. no matter how much extra drilling is done in the US the price for the supply is set by world demand)and since such resources are owned by private companies, is this race a race between nations or between private companies?

Mar. 21 2012 12:20 PM

The push to go back to the Moon and then go to Mars when the craving for elements makes it cost efficient!

The inner circles of the presidency debated claiming the Moon for the US in the late 60s and 70s. They abandoned the notion because the claim clearly could not be defended. Not so for claims to the arctic sea floor -- be afraid.

Mar. 21 2012 12:19 PM
Michael D. D. White from Brooklyn Heights

Water scarcity was just mentioned. What about the squandering of clean water resources assocaited with hydro-fracking?

Mar. 21 2012 12:16 PM

For any who are interested, the periodic table of elements is here:

Li = Lithium
Cu = Copper
Au = Gold

The rare earths are #21 (Scandium), #39 (Yttrium), and numbers 57 to 71 -- the lanthanides.

Mar. 21 2012 12:15 PM
Paul from Boston, MA

What happens when we do run out of fossil fuels? A Saudi Arabian adage goes something like:

"My Grandfather rode a camel. I drive a car. My Grandson flys in jets. His Grandson will ride a camel."

It's not going to happen in our lifetimes, but we should be looking in that direction instead of just repeating the mantra of 'Drill, drill, drill.'

Mar. 21 2012 12:14 PM

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