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The U.S. was galvanized by the terrorist attacks of September 11 , but according to economist Leeb, what we should have been worrying about was the contemporaneous emergence of China's enormous impact on commodity conservation and use. By 2012, the Chinese will hold a leading position in every aspect of renewable energy. Leeb argues that we as a nation are not paying enough attention to the threat of China's growing influence; he paints a picture of our government as fundamentally scattered and shortsighted, though his ire isn't aimed at any particular administration. Our political and economic systems don't lend themselves to tackling major problems until they reach crisis proportions, whereas the Chinese are relentlessly longterm thinkers (furthermore, their leaders don't have to answer to a fickle electorate). While we have no plan as to how to secure or develop our resources, China does, and its drive for growth means that its leaders will leave carbon reduction (and other initiatives) to the free market.
Though he does touch upon the potential problems China will face, his main purpose is to provoke Americans to wake up to a situation that threatens to destroy our economy and our environment. Terse, well-reasoned, and comprehensive, this is a much-needed shot in the arm for American complacency.—Publisher's Weekly
Foreword Thomas Kaplan, Chairman, Tigris Financial Group xi
Chapter 1 The Enlightened Ruler Lays His Plans Well Ahead 1
Chapter 2 China's Environmental Smokescreen 11
Chapter 3 Peak Oil Has Arrived-and Peak Coal Isn't Far Behind 27
Chapter 4 Blind to Copper Realities 49
Chapter 5 Rare Earth Elements Are Getting Rarer-and China Has Them 73
Chapter 6 Other Critical Commodities and China's Global Land Grab 85
Chapter 7 The Rise of Resource Nationalism 101
Chapter 8 Why Dealing with Declining Resources Is Easier for China 117
Chapter 9 The Limits of Western Democracy in Dealing with Critical Problems: Tiananmen Square versus 9/11 137
Chapter 10 Responses to the Financial Crisis of 2008 157
Chapter 11 The Other Critical Metal: Gold 171
Chapter 12 China's Additional Strengths 183
Chapter 13 Potential Pitfalls: China's Infrastructure, Food, and Water 195
Chapter 14 A Message for America from Confucius 211
About the Authors 237
Posted April 13, 2012
America is in a race with China that will go a long way toward determining our future quality of life. Few Americans know that this race is underway.
World supplies are growing very tight of certain key minerals (sometimes called strategic minerals) that are absolutely vital for the smooth running of a 21st century economy. Names like neodymium, europium, indium and niobium may sound very boring, but you can't run a high-tech economy without them. China has spent years, and a lot of money around the world, getting its hands on every bit of such materials that it can find. China is doing it not just to keep their economy growing, but because, one day, the supply will run out, and they want to be in the driver's seat.
For a number of other, equally important, minerals, of which America imports all of its supply, the world's biggest supplier is China. The American attitude is that technology will save the day. How is that going to happen if China decides that some vital mineral will be much less available?
Estimates put the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan at nearly $3 trillion. Even a portion of that money would have been much better spent on renewable energy, especially solar energy. China is the world leader in making solar panels, and their lead widens every day. How can America have any hope of catching up when federal investments are in the hundreds of millions of dollars (at the most), and China's investments are in the billions of dollars?
Everyone has seen pictures of acres and acres of electronic equipment dumped all over China. The methods to extract the metals inside may be low-tech and toxic, but even a small amount of gold, for instance, per monitor, multiplied by millions of monitors, is a substantial amount of gold that China can use elsewhere.
America can not depend on new sources of oil to power its economy, because the authors assert that "peak oil" has arrived. It is the point at which the era of "easy" oil extraction has ended, and any new discoveries will be harder and harder to extract ("Drill, baby, drill" is simplistic, at best).
This is a fascinating and very important book. It is very much worth reading for all Americans, and especially for all members of Congress.