Chelsea Green Publishing


Pages:368 pages
Size: 6 x 9 inch
Publisher:Chelsea Green Publishing
Paperback: 9781603585415
Pub. Date April 22, 2014


How the Quest for Mineral Wealth Is Plundering the Planet

By Ugo Bardi
Foreword by Jorgen Randers

Availability: In Stock


Available Date:
April 22, 2014


As we dig, drill, and excavate to unearth the planet’s mineral bounty, the resources we exploit from ores, veins, seams, and wells are gradually becoming exhausted. Mineral treasures that took millions, or even billions, of years to form are now being squandered in just centuries–or sometimes just decades.

Will there come a time when we actually run out of minerals? Debates already soar over how we are going to obtain energy without oil, coal, and gas. But what about the other mineral losses we face? Without metals, and semiconductors, how are we going to keep our industrial system running? Without mineral fertilizers and fuels, how are we going to produce the food we need?

Ugo Bardi delivers a sweeping history of the mining industry, starting with its humble beginning when our early ancestors started digging underground to find the stones they needed for their tools. He traces the links between mineral riches and empires, wars, and civilizations, and shows how mining in its various forms came to be one of the largest global industries. He also illustrates how the gigantic mining machine is now starting to show signs of difficulties. The easy mineral resources, the least expensive to extract and process, have been mostly exploited and depleted. There are plenty of minerals left to extract, but at higher costs and with increasing difficulties.

The effects of depletion take different forms and one may be the economic crisis that is gripping the world system. And depletion is not the only problem. Mining has a dark side–pollution–that takes many forms and delivers many consequences, including climate change. 

The world we have been accustomed to, so far, was based on cheap mineral resources and on the ability of the ecosystem to absorb pollution without generating damage to human beings. Both conditions are rapidly disappearing. Having thoroughly plundered planet Earth, we are entering a new world.

Bardi draws upon the world’s leading minerals experts to offer a compelling glimpse into that new world ahead.



"Although mining the earth’s crust for its amazingly versatile mineral resources has been going on for centuries, the damaging environmental side effects from our increasing demand for precious metals have become obvious only in the last few decades. Yet, according to Italian chemistry professor and ecological expert Bardi, who wrote this report for the Club of Rome, a global think tank devoted to addressing political and humanitarian concerns, worldwide mineral depletion not only impacts climate change but strains the international economy and often harms the indigenous cultures where mining takes place. After taking readers through a tour of mineral mining’s colorful history, Bardi explains the multistage process of bringing minerals to market, from extraction to refinement, before addressing mining’s dark side, including reckless waste and child labor in Third World countries. With input from other mineral experts, Bardi also rebuts critics who argue that emerging technologies, like a ‘universal mining machine,' will be able to solve most of these problems. A skillfully written guide to a crucial, little-understood subject and an urgent wake-up call.”

Publishers Weekly-

"Our massive global mining infrastructure is showing signs of strain, writes Bardi (The Limits of Growth Revisited), University of Florence professor of chemistry, in this insightful if pessimistic description of the industry’s history, operation, and future. All mined minerals including carbon (coal, oil, gas) are unrenewable resources whose supply is already dwindling. Sadly, as with global warming, there are skeptics and denialists who insist that (a) it’s not true, and (b) technology will fix matters. These same opponents state, correctly, that we have extracted a minuscule fraction of the oil, iron, or even gold in the earth’s crust. But they ignore that, as ore quality diminishes and extracting becomes harder, the price rises. For example, platinum (essential in catalytic converters), silver, and oil cost four times more than in the year 2000. They also assume that technology will produce a 'universal mining machine,' which will consume ordinary rock, extracting whatever is valuable. Although theoretically possible, such a machine would require immense amounts of energy and leave behind unthinkable quantities of waste. Bardi concludes that things must change, and though his is not an encouraging book, readers will appreciate his intelligent, lucid, and disturbing account of our mishandling of mineral resources.”

“Ugo Bardi’s book is an effective piece of work for stimulating thought and debate on this planet’s mineral wealth, and how we should view this issue within the framework of sustainability. The book goes into the history of how human society has used minerals, their relationship with the evolution of human civilization, and how we should use these resources in the future. There is a wealth of information in this volume that deals with important minerals like uranium, lithium, rare earths, copper, nickel, zinc, phosphorous, and others. Readers would find the material presented very informative and a valuable basis for discussions on minerals policy.”--Rajendra K. Pachauri, chairman, UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; CEO, The Energy and Resources Institute

"Most decisionmakers and citizens view money as the primary driver of our societies. Yet our civilization is first dependent on extraction of natural capital—minerals, ores, and particularly energy–that are the precursors for everything in our economies. Ugo Bardi and guest authors provide an excellent overview on the history, significance, and future of minerals and energy and how this relates to our human ecosystem. Wide boundary thinking at its best."--Nate Hagens, former editor, The Oil Drum; former vice-president, Solomon Brothers and Lehman Brothers

"The world economy is now phenomenally large in comparison with the planetary base that is the setting for all economic activity. Natural resources are becoming increasingly scarce, and the planet's sinks for absorbing waste products are already exhausted in many contexts. In Extracted, Ugo Bardi tells the story of our planetary plunder from its beginnings up through the present. He tells it with verve and insight, and he offers a powerful perspective on what the implications are for the future. This newest report from the Club of Rome demands our serious attention."--James Gustave Speth, author of America the Possible: Manifesto for a New Economy and former dean, Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies

"Here is the book many of us in the sustainability world have been looking forward to: a comprehensive, readable, historically informed inquiry into the depletion of Earth’s mineral resources. Extracted should be on the reading list of every introductory class in economics—as well as environmental studies, geology, history, political science . . . heck, everybody should read it."--Richard Heinberg, senior fellow, Post Carbon Institute; author, The End of Growth

“Although Ugo Bardi’s fine book focuses on extraction, it also discusses geological formation of minerals and ores, mining, metallurgy, coinage of precious metals, debt, waste, pollution, climate change, and the dark side of mining. Interspersed are short digressions written by other experts on related topics ranging from soil fertility and plants as miners, to peak oil and coal, and the Hubbert depletion curve. The book is clearly written and insightful. Highly recommended!”--Herman Daly, author of Ecological Economics; professor emeritus, School of Public Policy, University of Maryland


Ugo Bardi

Ugo Bardi is a member of the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Florence, where he teaches physical chemistry. His research interests include mineral resources, renewable energy, and system dynamics applied to economics. He is a member of the Club of Rome, of the scientific committee of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil (ASPO), and Climalteranti, a group active in climate science. He is also founder and former president of the Italian chapter of ASPO and chief editor of Frontiers in Energy Systems and Policy. His articles have appeared on The Oil Drum, Resilience (formerly The Energy Bulletin, Financial Sense, and Cassandra's Legacy. His previous books include The Limits to Growth Revisited.


Urban Challenges

Plundering the Planet

Ugo Bardi: Der geplunderte Planet - Interview June 2013

How the quest for mineral wealth is plundering the planet


How to Read the Landscape

How to Read the Landscape

By Patrick Whitefield

According to an ICM poll, 77 percent of UK adults, or about 38 million people, say they walk for pleasure at least once a month. It is remarkable, therefore, that no one has written about the landscapes they’re walking through and enjoying . . . until now.

Patrick Whitefield has spent a lifetime living and working in the countryside and twenty years of that taking notes of what he sees, everywhere from the Isle of Wight to the Scottish Highlands. This book is the fruit of those years of experience.

In How to Read the Landscape, Patrick explains everything from the details, such as the signs that wild animals leave as their signatures and the meaning behind the shapes of different trees, to how whole landscapes, including woodland, grassland, and moorland, fit together and function as a whole. Rivers and lakes, roads and paths, hedgerows and field walls are also explained, as well as the influence of different rocks, the soil, and the ever-changing climate. There’s even a chapter on the fascinating history of the landscape and one about natural succession, how the landscape changes of its own accord when we leave it alone. The landscape will never look the same again. You will not only appreciate its beauty, it will also come alive with a whole new depth of appreciation and understanding.

The lively text is supported by 50 color photographs, 140 line drawings by the author, and extracts from his notebooks illustrating actual examples of the landscapes he describes. Opening How to Read the Landscape is like opening a window on a whole new way of seeing the living world around you.

Available in: Paperback

Read More

How to Read the Landscape

Patrick Whitefield

Paperback $23.95

A Language Older Than Words

A Language Older Than Words

By Derrick Jensen

At once a beautifully poetic memoir and an exploration of the various ways we live in the world, A Language Older Than Words explains violence as a pathology that touches every aspect of our lives and indeed affects all aspects of life on Earth. This chronicle of a young man's drive to transcend domestic abuse offers a challenging look at our worldwide sense of community and how we can make things better.

Available in: Paperback

Read More

A Language Older Than Words

Derrick Jensen

Paperback $20.00

Search for the Golden Moon Bear

Search for the Golden Moon Bear

By Sy Montgomery

Sy Montgomery--acclaimed author of The Soul of an Octopus and bestselling memoir The Good Good Pig--has shared with readers her amazing encounters with intelligent octopi, great apes, man-eating tigers, and pink river dolphins, but here her muse is an animal whose name and appearance evoke another world altogether. Southeast Asia's golden moon bear, with its luminous coat, lionlike mane, and Mickey Mouse ears, was unknown to science--until Montgomery and her colleagues got on the trail at the dawn of the new millennium.

Search for the Golden Moon Bear recounts Montgomery's quest--fraught with danger and mayhem--to reconstruct an evolutionary record and piece together a living portrait of her littleknown subject. This beautiful animal is not just a scientific eureka! It is also a powerful symbol of conservation. Search for the Golden Moon Bear is a field report from the frontiers of science and the ends of the earth, seamlessly weaving together folklore, natural history, and contemporary research into fantastic travelogue.

Available in: Paperback

Read More

Search for the Golden Moon Bear

Sy Montgomery, Gary Galbreath

Paperback $19.95

The Case against Fluoride

The Case against Fluoride

By Paul Connett and James Beck and Spedding Micklem

When the U.S. Public Health Service endorsed water fluoridation in 1950, there was little evidence of its safety. Now, six decades later and after most countries have rejected the practice, more than 70 percent of Americans, as well as 200 million people worldwide, are drinking fluoridated water. The Center for Disease Control and the American Dental Association continue to promote it--and even mandatory statewide water fluoridation--despite increasing evidence that it is not only unnecessary, but potentially hazardous to human health.

In this timely and important book, Dr. Paul Connett, Dr. James Beck, and Dr. H. Spedding Micklem take a new look at the science behind water fluoridation and argue that just because the dental and medical establishments endorse a public health measure doesn't mean it's safe. In the case of water fluoridation, the chemicals that go into the drinking water that more than 180 million people drink each day are not even pharmaceutical grade, but rather a hazardous waste product of the phosphate fertilizer industry. It is illegal to dump this waste into the sea or local surface water, and yet it is allowed in our drinking water. To make matters worse, this program receives no oversight from the Food and Drug Administration, and the Environmental Protection Agency takes no responsibility for the practice. And from an ethical standpoint, say the authors, water fluoridation is a bad medical practice: individuals are being forced to take medication without their informed consent, there is no control over the dose, and no monitoring of possible side effects.

At once painstakingly documented and also highly readable, The Case Against Fluoride brings new research to light, including links between fluoride and harm to the brain, bones, and endocrine system, and argues that the evidence that fluoridation reduces tooth decay is surprisingly weak.

Available in: Paperback

Read More

The Case against Fluoride

Paul Connett, James Beck, Spedding Micklem, Albert W. Burgstahler

Paperback $24.95