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.
“An expert account of a poorly understood but critical element in our economy.”
“[E]xposes the dirty underpinnings of clean technologies in a debut that raises valid questions about energy extraction.”
“[T]he journalist and filmmaker warns against the optimistic belief that technology is the solution…At a time when many claim to be “citizens of the world” or retreat into naive or hypocritical protectionism, Pitron’s book is an attempt to open people’s eyes to the consequences of their societal choices and lifestyles.”
—Green European Journal
“French Writer and analyst Guillaume Pitron warns about growing reliance on rare-earth metals—which are necessary to build high-tech products…He shines a light on “the untold story” of the energy and digital transitions.”
- HEC Student Prize
- BFMTV’s Economic Book of the Year
- ManpowerGroup/HEC Paris Literary Award
- Cosnes City Book Fair Readers' Club Award
- Prix Turgot, Best Financial Economy
- The French Geographical Society Escourrou Award