The control of noble metals was a key to ancient and modern empires. Soldiers were paid with gold or silver coins, so they were able to extent the empire and conquer more mines to pay more soldiers. Modern empires like the British Empire were built on coal – which went down with the end of British coal resources. The Empire of our times is built on fossil fuels as well: controlling them means to dominate the world. However, shortages of oil, coal and metals combined with catastrophic climate change could lead to a collapse of modern civilization and bring us back to an agrarian society. However this scenario is avoidable according to Bardi, if we stop mining the earth and start mining our waste, closing the resource cycle.
Ugo Bardi, professor for physical chemistry at the University of Florence, author of the Report to the Club of Rome "Plundering the Planet"