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The War Below : Lithium, Copper, and the Global Battle to Power Our Lives

The War Below : Lithium, Copper, and the Global Battle to Power Our Lives

Ernest Scheyder

January 30, 2024

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An unprecedented look inside the global battle to power our lives from acclaimed Reuters reporter Ernest Scheyder.

A new economic war for critical minerals has begun, and The War Below is an urgent dispatch from its front lines. To build electric vehicles, solar panels, cell phones, and millions of other devices means the world must dig more mines to extract lithium, copper, and other vital building blocks. But mines are deeply unpopular, even as they have a role to play in fighting climate change and powering crucial technologies. These tensions have sparked a worldwide reckoning over the sourcing of necessary materials, and no one understands the complexities of these issues better than Ernest Scheyder, whose exclusive access to sites around the globe has allowed him to gain unparalleled insights into a future without fossil fuels.

The War Below reveals the explosive brawl among industry titans, conservationists, community groups, policymakers, and many others over whether some places are too special to mine or whether the habitats of rare plants, sensitive ecosystems, Indigenous holy sites, and other places should be dug up for their riches.

With vivid and engaging writing, Scheyder shows the human toll of this war and explains why recycling and other newer technologies have struggled to gain widespread use. He also expertly chronicles Washington’s attempts to wean itself off supplies from China, the global leader in mineral production and processing. The War Below paints a powerfully honest and nuanced picture of what is at stake in this new fight for energy independence, revealing how America and the rest of the world’s hunt for the “new oil” directly affects us all.
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