Is the shift to renewable energy and digital devices going to free us from severe pollution, material shortages, and military tensions?
Rare metals are essential to electric vehicles, fighter jets, wind turbines, and solar panels, and also to our smartphones, computers, tablets, and other everyday connected objects. But consumers know very little about how they are mined and traded, or the environmental, economic, and geopolitical costs of this dependence.
This book reveals the dark side of the world that awaits us. It is an undercover tale of a technological odyssey that has promised much, and a look behind the scenes. Behind it all lurks China, which has captured the lion’s share of the ownership and processing of rare metals we now can’t do without. Drawing on six years of research across a dozen countries, this book shows that by breaking free of fossil fuels, we are in fact setting ourselves up for a new dependence—on rare metals that have become vital to our new ecological and digital society.