Oliver Balch at Literary Review:
Everywhere rare metals are mined – be it the Democratic Republic of Congo (where conditions in the mines are ‘straight out of the Middle Ages’), Kazakhstan or Vietnam – pollution and environmental destruction follow. Safety standards aside, it’s hugely inefficient. Know how much lutetium you’ll get from extracting, crushing and refining 1,200 tonnes of rock? One solitary kilogram.
That translates not only into countless mountains being hollowed out but also into colossal amounts of energy being used. Assuming (correctly) that most of this energy comes from fossil fuels, then green tech’s promise of a low-carbon future seems misplaced at best (or, as Pitron prefers, a straightforward ‘ruse’). Never short on stats and facts, The Rare Metals War includes a reference to a US study that suggests that electric vehicles are three to four times as energy-intensive as conventional cars.