An award-winning science journalist charges that the United States is ceding first place to the Chinese in the development of technologies invented by American scientists.
As Bruce (No Apparent Danger: The True Story of Volcanic Disaster at Galeras and Nevado del Ruiz, 2001, etc.) writes, “the tsunami of science and tech companies rolling into China,” is well-known, but free market ideology has blinded us to the political consequences of allowing the Chinese to achieve international hegemony in global markets. She dates her personal interest in the story from her college years as an undergraduate majoring in geology. During a field trip to the Mojave Desert in 1994, she received a rock containing a rare-earth metal from a geologist who contended that the Chinese were putting American mining companies out of business. They were appropriating our technology and selling it at bargain prices in order to capture the world market. Bruce thought about this incident again in 2011 when she met Jim Kennedy, who had invested in an iron mine that turned out to contain radioactive thorium mixed with rare-earth elements. Consequently, his mining operation was subject to strict nuclear regulatory measures, which reduced the profitability of his operation; American investors, in particular, were wary of “the nightmarish costs and complications around the disposal of nuclear waste.” Ultimately, Kennedy could not compete with Chinese investors, who have become the leading global suppliers of the rare-earth elements needed to produce semiconductors. They are also at the forefront of the development of next-generation nuclear technology. Not only does the Chinese government encourage private investment, but it offers financial incentives to investors in high-end nuclear technology. In contrast, Kennedy has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars of his own money as an investor and political activist. Bruce provides a concise, inspiring story of personal transformation and dedication to American technology production.
An instructive tale of one man’s “burning mission to bring back manufacturing and innovation to America.”