Alright, I got the add-on book at B&N today. My first reaction is that there are three ways to take the book in light of the conflicting commentary from competing sources:
-The RDA is full of baloney and the activists are correct in their assessments.
-The activists are full of baloney and the RDA is correct in its assessments.
-Both are unreliable and pursuing agendas.
My inclination is towards RDA accuracy on a number of points, primarily because of the internal memo nature of the document. If the book were presented as being a public consumption document or something out of the PR department, I would be more dubious of their statements. By contrast, the feeling that I get from the authors is one of "hopeless idealists" with a dubious-at-best agenda involving the uncontrolled introduction of alien lifeforms into Earth's ecosystem. I accept that other readings of the documents are possible, but that is the feeling that I get upon reading the comments in them.
I would also like to note that one major comment in the book caught my attention, namely the idea of the development of a replacement for Unobtanium. I'm not going to outright call that suggestion "impossible", but I am reminded of the main alternative to drilling oil ultimately (for the interim) being either converting coal over or drilling natural gas. Other options came online, but one was the byproduct of nuclear weapons development and others have taken decades to go anywhere. Such an alternative might in theory be developed, but the practicality is not commented on beyond the general idea in the material we have; simply put, there is a decent chance that we have a wonderful case of pissing in the wind going on here.
Moving along to our usual exchange of comments:
So, in other words, if all the oil ran out tomorrow, except say, under New York City, it would be perfectly acceptable to kill every single person living there and raze the city to the ground to get to it, right?
It would be acceptable to take the city over under eminent domain with compensation for the residents for their property (granted, most of this compensation would be going to rental investors who own the skyscrapers, not those who rent the properties, but that's beside the point). Depending on the urgency of the situation, dictating a price and making it stick would be acceptable (i.e. permitting the property seizure and letting the litigation roll out after the fact).
An armed attack would only become acceptable in the case of armed resistance, and even then only after attempting to clear out non-combatants from the city; invariably, I suspect you would get holdouts (gangs, etc.), and if they offered armed resistance then I would be willing to accept the use of force to get them out.
Moving on to your earlier Australia analogy, under the circumstances you suggested and assuming that Australia refused to sell resources to the Chinese (and that all other buyers were unwilling to sell even in the face of both policy and monetary concessions that China was willing to offer), I would both argue that the Chinese had a right to use armed force to get them and that the Australians had a right to defend themselves against said attack.
I'm reminded of the question of the "trolley problem", as expounded upon in a New York Times article in 2006:
Suppose you are standing by a railroad track. Ahead, in a deep cutting from which no escape is possible, five people are walking on the track. You hear a train approaching. Beside you is a lever with which you can switch the train to a sidetrack. One person is walking on the sidetrack. Is it O.K. to pull the lever and save the five people, though one will die?
Assume now you are on a bridge overlooking the track. Ahead, five people on the track are at risk. You can save them by throwing down a heavy object into the path of the approaching train. One is available beside you, in the form of a fat man. Is it O.K. to push him to save the five?
(Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/31/healt ... ref=slogin
I will say that I suspect we have different answers to this question, but this is the context in which I consider the movie.