The Dark Cloud: The Hidden Costs of the Digital World

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5.98 X 9.13 X 0.94 inches | 0.84 pounds

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About the Author

Guillaume Pitron, born in 1980, is a French award-winning journalist and documentary-maker for France's leading television channels. His work focuses on commodities and on the economic, political, and environmental issues associated with their use. The Rare Metals War, his first book, sold 80,000 copies in France and has been translated into ten languages. Guillaume Pitron holds a master's degree in international law from the University of Georgetown (Washington, DC), and is a TEDx speaker. More information at

Bianca Jacobsohn is a South African and French translator and conference interpreter who specialises in energy, finance, strategic metals, and diplomacy. More information at


"This illuminating report from journalist Pitron (The Rare Metals War) ... succeeds in exposing the unseen hardware and processes that keep the modern world running ... Anyone who's ever wondered where, exactly, "the cloud" is located will want to check this out."
--Publishers Weekly

"Guillaume Pitron recalls the origins of digital technology and explains how this new communication tool has catastrophic consequences on our environment ... What happens when you send an email? What is the geography of clicks? What ecological and geopolitical challenges do they bring without our knowledge? This is the subject of The Dark Cloud ... For two years, the journalist followed, on four continents, the route of our emails, our likes, and our vacation photos."
--Margherita Nasi, Le Monde

"In The Dark Cloud, Guillaume Pitron exposes the supposed immateriality of the internet as one of the more pernicious of tech bro delusions. ... rather than saving us from the destructive tendencies of capitalism, the digital realm intensifies them, with the tech companies committed to exponential, unplanned growth irrespective of the environmental consequences ...[The Dark Cloud] demonstrates convincingly that we can't flee from our messed-up analogue world into some digital alternative. Our problems are material - and they require material solutions."
--Jeff Sparrow, The Saturday Paper

"Today has two battlegrounds--carbon and silicon. In The Dark Cloud, journalist Guillaume Pitron explains the distinction between these two battlegrounds is a carefully crafted illusion. Our screens are not portals to an infinity beyond the material. Far from lacking a footprint, technology actually has an immense cost in resources, energy and environmental destruction ... Pitron is a master of articulating the material cost of the "immaterial" ... It's only through works such as Dark Cloud ... that laboriously map the immense, insatiable machine that we realise it's one minute to midnight on the doomsday clock, and we're all asleep. Well, here is your wake-up call."
--Jason Steger, The Sydney Morning Herald

"It reveals the environmental cost of a dematerialized sector. Between the strategies of the giants who keep us in the illusion of a clean internet and the difficulty of feeling pollution that has no taste or smell, the investigator reveals the underside of the internet."
--Marina Fabre, Novethic

"An incredible investigation."
--France Inter

"Absolutely fascinating."
--Ali Baddou, C l'hebdo, France 5

"A landmark book."
--Le Figaro

"An illuminating study."

"A riveting investigation that, just like a thriller, sets out to open our eyes about the material impact as well as the economic and geopolitical issues of a totally wired world."

--Sciences et Avenir

"A colossal work."

"Pitron's captivating book delivers an illuminating and exquisitely written insight into the hidden world explaining the often hidden environmental costs that come with, for example, downloading this book review."
--Thomas Klikauer, International Journal of Communication

Praise for The Rare Metals War:

"An expert account of a poorly understood but critical element in our economy... Pitron delivers a gripping, detailed, and discouraging explanation... A well-rendered explanation of further bad news on the clean energy front."
--Kirkus Reviews

"[E]xposes the dirty underpinnings of clean technologies in a debut that raises valid questions about energy extraction."
--Publishers Weekly

"[T]he journalist and filmmaker warns against the optimistic belief that technology is the solution...At a time when many claim to be "citizens of the world" or retreat into naive or hypocritical protectionism, Pitron's book is an attempt to open people's eyes to the consequences of their societal choices and lifestyles."
--Green European Journal

"French Writer and analyst Guillaume Pitron warns about growing reliance on rare-earth metals--which are necessary to build high-tech products...He shines a light on "the untold story" of the energy and digital transitions."
--European Scientist

"Recognizing that the latest technologies might not be as green as we like to think is a good place to start planning for a better world."
--John Arlidge, The Sunday Times

"Demand for rare metals can only increase in the move to a zero-carbon economy. The Rare Metals War by Guillaume Pitron lays out the terrifying cost...Zipping from an abandoned mine in the Mojave desert to the toxic lakes and cancer-afflicted areas of Baotou in China, Pitron weighs the awful price of refining the materials, ably blending investigative journalism with insights from science, politics and business."
--New Scientist