Act: Inspiration

Olivia Lazard: “Peace and Power in the Mineral Age”

February 15, 2023

(Conversation recorded on December 27th, 2022)

On this episode, environmental peacemaker and mediator Olivia Lazard joins Nate to unpack the relationship between mineral deposits, conflict-vulnerable zones, and high biodiversity areas to create interlocking risks to geopolitical and climate stability. Much like Olivia’s research, this conversation covers a wide variety of topics and is jam-packed with information. Will we have to plunder the planet in order to save it? Will we be able to transition to a multi-polar world order somewhat peacefully? And what can we learn from mediators and peacemakers, like Olivia, as we move into a more materially constrained future – where the whole pie is smaller?

About Olivia Lazard

Olivia is an environmental peacemaking and mediation practitioner as well as a researcher and a fellow at Carnegie Europe. Her research focuses on the geopolitics of climate, the transition ushered by climate change, and the risks of conflict and fragility associated with climate change and environmental collapse. She has over twelve years of experience in the peacemaking sector at field and policy levels. In her fieldwork, her focus was to understand how globalization and the international political economy shaped patterns of violence and vulnerability patterns as well as formed new types of conflict systems that our international governance architecture has difficulty tackling with agility.

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Show Notes and Links to learn more:

PDF Transcript

00:40 – Olivia Lazard work + info

06:26Wagner Troops and locations

06:49Gold and Diamond deposits, Rare Earth Deposits

07:03What are Rare Earths and why are they needed to decarbonize

08:06Link between conflict and fragile zones

09:35Regenerative Peacebuilding

12:24Conflict drivers

13:24Conflict resolution in the wake of WWII and the Cold War: Economic Interdependence

19:35Olivia’s TED Talk

20:15 Positive Peace/Negative Peace

22:25 Ukraine is the most resource rich country in the European region

22:53 – Strategic partnerships between the EU and Canada, and the EU and Ukraine

23:55Russian strategic partnerships to gain raw materials

27:20US, Saudi Arabia, and Russia leading oil producers

27:30Leading oil producers are also leading oil consumers

29:30Russia’s denial of need for climate action – actually has a strong understanding of risk

31:32History of demonization of the west (Iranian Revolution), reemerging in Russia

33:25Putin’s February 21st 2022 address

33:30The US has broken international law

36:55Illegal activities being included in GDP measures

39:01Vandana Shiva + TGS Episode

41:17 China’s shifting of the international economic system

43:25 High natural gas prices, Nord Stream pipelineeffects in Europe vs in the global south

44:55African Civil Society movement against fossil fuel development, COP 26

45:32Tzeporah Berman – fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty

45:51 Don’t Gas Africa + The Fossil Fuelled Fallacy

49:10Dependence of much of the global south for food imports despite having arable land

49:39Effects of debt restructuring on the 1970s and 1980s on the global south

52:15Simon Michaux + TGS Episode Part 1 and Part 2

53:21An electric car uses 6x more materials than a conventional one

53:31The electrification of the grid will require 9x more materials than the fossil grid

53:40Huge increases in demand for some minerals, especially those needed for batteries

54:20Environmental impacts of miningwater, air, soil, biodiversity, integrity of the land, communities

55:43 – Concentration of ore and deposits and overlap between high-risk conflict zones and high-biodiversity zones

1:02:30Access to all of this energy would not solve our planetary issues

1:02:55Johan Rockström, Stockholm Resilience Centre – Planetary Boundaries

1:04:38Randy Hayes, Rainforest Action Network

1:05:02Degrowth, Post-growth

1:08:25Average planetary consumption of different countries

1:11:09Jason Hickel

1:13:43European Green Deal and lack of foreign policy components

1:13:52 Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism

1:17:40ChatGPT doesn’t allow for positive talk about fossil fuels

1:18:19Braiding Sweetgrass

1:18:55 English is largely made up of nouns, versus other languages made up more of verbs


Teaser photo credit: By Tmy350 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Nate Hagens

Nate Hagens

Nate is a well-known speaker on the big picture issues facing human society and currently teaches a systems synthesis Honors seminar at the University of Minnesota ‘Reality 101 – A Survey of the Human Predicament’   Nate is on the Boards of Post Carbon Institute, Bottleneck Foundation, IIER and Institute for the Study of Energy and the Future.  Previously, he was lead editor of The Oil Drum, one of the most popular and respected websites for analysis and discussion of global energy supplies and the future implications of the upcoming energy transition. Nate’s presentations address the opportunities and constraints we face after the coming peak of global economic growth. On the supply side, Nate focuses on the interrelationship between debt-based financial markets and natural resources, particularly energy with and the unique (and so far unplanned for) risks from the coming ‘Great Simplification’.  On the demand side, Nate addresses the evolutionarily-derived underpinnings to

Tags: geopolitics, mineral depletion, peacebuilding