Peak metals

Written By: - Date published: 6:47 am, September 19th, 2009 - 48 comments
Categories: economy, Environment - Tags:

We’re probably all now aware of the idea of peak oil. The earth is finite, and we can’t suck an infinite amount of oil out of it. But oil isn’t the only resource which is reaching its peak. Various important metals are running out even faster:

Indium, gallium and hafnium are some of the least-known elements on the periodic table, but New Scientist warns that reserves of these low-profile minerals and others like them might soon be exhausted thanks to the demand for flat screens and other high-tech goods. Scientists who have tried to estimate how long the world’s mineral supply can meet global demand have made some gloomy predictions.

Armin Reller, a materials chemist at the University of Augsburg in Germany, estimates that in 10 years the world will run out of indium, used for making liquid-crystal displays for flat-screen televisions and computer monitors. He also predicts that the world will run out of zinc by 2037, and hafnium, an increasingly important part of computer chips, by 2017.

This issue is starting to get more widely noticed. Here are some extracts from the New Scientist article mentioned:

It’s not just the world’s platinum that is being used up at an alarming rate. The same goes for many other rare metals such as indium, which is being consumed in unprecedented quantities for making LCDs for flat-screen TVs, and the tantalum needed to make compact electronic devices like cellphones. How long will global reserves of uranium last in a new nuclear age? Even reserves of such commonplace elements as zinc, copper, nickel and the phosphorus used in fertiliser will run out in the not-too-distant future. So just what proportion of these materials have we used up so far, and how much is there left to go round?

Without more recycling, antimony, which is used to make flame retardant materials, will run out in 15 years, silver in 10 and indium in under five. In a more sophisticated analysis, Reller has included the effects of new technologies, and projects how many years we have left for some key metals. He estimates that zinc could be used up by 2037, both indium and hafnium – which is increasingly important in computer chips – could be gone by 2017, and terbium – used to make the green phosphors in fluorescent light bulbs – could run out before 2012. It all puts our present rate of consumption into frightening perspective

The US now imports over 90 per cent of its so-called “rare earth” metals from China, according to the US Geological Survey. If China decided to cut off the supply, that would create a big risk of conflict, says Reller.

That was written in 2007. In 2009 the scenario quoted in the last extract is about to come to pass. China is planning to stop exporting rare metals:

Beijing is drawing up plans to prohibit or restrict exports of rare earth metals that are produced only in China and play a vital role in cutting edge technology, from hybrid cars and catalytic converters, to superconductors, and precision-guided weapons.

A draft report by China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has called for a total ban on foreign shipments of terbium, dysprosium, yttrium, thulium, and lutetium. Other metals such as neodymium, europium, cerium, and lanthanum will be restricted to a combined export quota of 35,000 tonnes a year, far below global needs.

China mines over 95pc of the world’s rare earth minerals, mostly in Inner Mongolia. The move to hoard reserves is the clearest sign to date that the global struggle for diminishing resources is shifting into a new phase. Countries may find it hard to obtain key materials at any price.

Now what?

48 comments on “Peak metals ”

  1. jabba 1

    great news to wake up to

  2. outofbed 2

    Now what?
    Prospecting in National parks?

  3. RedLogix 3

    Quoting from The New Scientist article is an interesting sentence: Mr. Kleijn says that a lot of copper could be freed up by replacing cities’ copper pipes with plastic ones.

    Copper is perhaps the most vital of the non-ferrous metals to our our electricity driven civilisation, and one for which there is no good substitute. (Aluminium cables are only useful in a certain small niche of applications.) But far too much copper gets stupidly gobbled up in domestic plumbing, when there are several excellent polymer alternatives available. Why?

    Well it’s an interesting story. Turns out that when polybutelyne plumbing was first introduced about 25 years ago there were two very divergent approaches taken in the US and Europe. The Europeans went down the regulated standards route, carefully developing good engineering specifications and clever sophisticated products that worked well. Most new buildings in the UK and Europe would be built with one of several excellent polymer systems installed.

    By contrast the US, in all it’s de-regulated capitalist hubris, let the free market reign. Result; total frack up. What they got was cheap, poorly designed rubbish, that after a few short years started bursting and leaking all over the place. What the Amercians did wrong was use cheap nasty acetate connectors, with poorly designed collars that needed huge crimp pressures to stop them leaking. Or used mismatched materials that failed under a combination of high mechanical stress and and the often rather high chlorine content of many US water supplies.

    A massive class action forced polybutelyne (and by tainted association, most other polymer systems) off the market. Huge sums were spent ripping out vast amounts of perfectly good polybutelyne piping and replacing it with copper. And no plumber in the US would even think of using anything but copper these days.

    I know this is a technical little story, but in a technology based society these things matter. The contrast between the European and American approaches, and the end results… could not be more stark. In the modern world politics is not just about the big social and environmental issues, it’s about competent, long-term managment of policies, regulations and standards. ‘Hands-off’ light handed, small govt does not cut the mustard.

    • Draco T Bastard 3.1

      A free-market under highly regulated and enforced standards and we may, just may, be able to prevent modern civilisation from collapsing into the dustbin. As long as we maintain “capitalist free-market” and it’s core aspect of individualism though, we haven’t got a snowballs chance in a furnace.

  4. Chris 4

    Never fear! Gerry-Mining is Good!-Brownlee to the rescue!

    Ask him! Except Metiria did, and he morphed into Gerry-I don’t care what the peasants think-Brownlee.

  5. ben 5

    Folks, this might be scary except that a) doomsayers have been around for millenia, and it is not clear from anything you’ve said that you’re any different, b) you badly misunderstand incentives for discovery (hint: our desire to get materials out of the ground will end long before it is all gone), badly misunderstand how markets deal with scarcity, and badly misunderstand incentives for recycling, which appear when and only when, notwithstanding limitless tapayers dollars being thrown at it, scarcity actually occurs.

    Google “fatal conceit”. You can’t plan your way out of scarcity, although governments have a remarkable abilty to plan their way into it.

    • rainman 5.1

      “hint: our desire to get materials out of the ground will end long before it is all gone”

      This is surely the greater “fatal conceit”. What possible mechanism would exist to ensure that our desire for a resource will decline before the supply of the resource itself?

      Put another way: I have a plum tree in my back yard, grows the most amazing plums. And every year my desire for them builds as I see the blossom, then the fruit start to grow, then ripen. And for a few short weeks I get to indulge my desire and eat fresh plums from the back yard. But then they run out – before my desire for them does.

      Fortunately they’re a renewable resource, and if I look after the tree I can get some the next year. Not so with many other resources, though.

  6. ben 6

    Draco

    But far too much copper gets stupidly gobbled up in domestic plumbing, when there are several excellent polymer alternatives available. Why?

    I’ll bet good money you’re wrong that it’s stupid, Draco. The reason is that there is a global market for copper and people are perfectly aware of the alternative ways to plumb their houses.

    Quite why this could produce a misallocation of cooper to the wrong uses is unclear. Everybody is stupid spending their own hard-earned cash taking into account their own preferences and situations that you, as an outsider, couldn’t possibly know about? Is that what you think?

    Um, no. What’s going on is that you’ve done one or more of the following things: underestimated the quantity of copper, over estimated the value of its other uses, under estimated the value of copper as plumbing. I’m not saying people never make mistakes. But the idea that the entire world has systematically got it wrong by using copper in their plumbing and you’ve actually seen the light is plain silly.

    Again, the fatal conceit.

    • RedLogix 6.1

      Ben,

      You’re addressing the wrong person.

      Everybody is stupid spending their own hard-earned cash taking into account their own preferences and situations that you, as an outsider, couldn’t possibly know about?

      In a nutshell yes. The Americans are stupid for having allowed the intelligent option of using polymer plumbing to be devalued because they failed to correctly regulate the market.

      The Europeans by contrast did not.

      • ben 6.1.1

        Red, if everybody else’s revealed preferences are unreliable indicators of value – why should we trust yours? What makes them wrong and you right? Given there’s millions of them and one of you, and they’re spending their own money and you’re not, and given they know what makes them happy and you don’t, why should we prefer your view on use of copper to theirs? Compared to the $billions they have independetly invested, your talk by comparison could not be cheaper, right?

        • Draco T Bastard 6.1.1.1

          It’s not a question of one person being right and another wrong. It’s about the science being right and the free-market being wrong. The use of plastic for the pipes would have been fine and no one would have changed if standards had been introduced. Those standards weren’t introduced and so America ended up with substandard materials the result being that the market then had to correct but everyone, because they didn’t know any better, moved away from using plastic to using a less common material.

          All of which adds to the increasing poverty of future generations.

          • ben 6.1.1.1.1

            Draco, you are assuming your answer. What science takes into account the personal value individuals give to copper vs plastics? What science takes into account the risk aversion for what’s new? And so on. Economics is about utility, not chemistry and physics. And utility is, ultimately, deeply personal. But those preferences are correctly recongised as relevant to happiness. Forcing people, citing the best science going, to accept something they do not want for whatever reason, is a recipe for second best.

            Extend that idea across the economy and it is a recipe for disaster. How many times must this be demonstrated? Planned economies do not work. If it fails for entire economies, why should we expect it to work in any part of it?

            You may well be right about the science. And perhaps consumers will come around to the idea that plastic really is better in pipes. After, what, a decade half the wine bottles in the store are still sealed with cork. I don’t know what people like. Neither do you. The simple fact is that right now people are willing to out bid others for copper, and its highest value use is in pipes. Absent externalities, you should not generally expect to make things better by forcing people to buy something they do not want.

            • Draco T Bastard 6.1.1.1.1.1

              You really are an idiot aren’t you?

              you are assuming your answer.

              Yes, I know its a hell of an assumption assuming that people would prefer to buy a product that works.

              What science takes into account the personal value individuals give to copper vs plastics?

              WTF are you smoking? The original argument was plastics with standards that worked versus plastics without standards that didn’t.

              What science takes into account the risk aversion for what’s new?

              The science that can prove to a reasonable degree that one product works and the other doesn’t.

              Forcing people, citing the best science going, to accept something they do not want for whatever reason, is a recipe for second best.

              Who’s being forced to do what? That’s an interesting question. See, in America, the people were forced to do their own science to determine if a product was up to what they wanted to do. A highly expensive exercise which most people didn’t do resulting in even more expense due to the products they bought not being up to standard. In the EU the science was done for the people and the products were forced to meet the standard. They still had the choice of multiple products and could even choose copper if they wanted.

              The scientifically determined standards put in by the EU removed the risk and so people could buy confidently. In the US they ended up with multi-million dollar repair bills and a class action suit because the manufacturers went after profit rather than a good product. The people in the US are now risk averse to plastic pipes when they shouldn’t be all because some idiots thought standards shouldn’t apply.

              I won’t bother with the rest of your post because it’s all tripe.

            • RedLogix 6.1.1.1.1.2

              Thanks Draco…. that puts the case very concisely. Ben’s line of thought is a very revealing, it demonstrates the critical weakness of conventional economic thinking… an almost total disconnect with reality.

              As an engineer I’m completely baffled by the way these guys think. From my perspective there is something fundamentally wrong with modern economics. As I said above, any so called ‘science’ that completely fails to make even basic predictions, such as the current global financial crisis, has really lost it’s way.

        • RedLogix 6.1.1.2

          ben,

          I get the same sense of disconnect from reality when I read you, that I get from several other economist types I’ve come across before.

          My only answer is that for all your waffle about ‘revealed preferences’, the fact is that the regulated Europeans made intelligent market choices and the unregulated Americans did not. The links I gave are just a small taste of what you get when you google ‘polybutelyne’…what you discover is the very odd scenario where it is a perfectly acceptable mainstream product in Europe, and being ripped out in disgust by the Yanks.

          Is that ‘revealed’ enough for you?

          • ben 6.1.1.2.1

            Red, I’ve re-read your story – where is the bit that explains why copper was wrong? You’ve simply asserted that Europeans are intelligent and Americans are not, and copper bad, plastics good. But where’s the beef?

            The basic point here has nothing to do with copper vs plastic. The point is that no individual can possibly know what the right answer is. No spreadsheet can account for everything required to know what mix of plastic and copper, or whatever, is right.

            Yet you appear certain you know the answer.

            That is the fatal conceit that Hayek correctly pointed out shortly before Communism’s fall. The main reason socialism fails is because planners cannot possibly know where resources have their highest value use.

            Yet here you are, explaining that copper has higher value use elsewhere. As if you or I or any other individual could possibly know that. We can’t. One can criticise markets for all kinds of reasons, but suggesting officials (or blog commenters) are better than markets at directing resources to their highest valued uses is absurd. It has nothing to do with skill of the officials or their goodwill, or ideology. It is simply that the information requirements to solve the economic problem are stupendous and decisionmaking is best left decentralised.

          • ben 6.1.1.2.2

            Red, you know I get exactly the same feeling from you. This disconnect you think is happening is simply because I disagree with a prescription derived from a world constructed entirely in your head. You think you know what is required to know where copper has better uses. But the reality is there is no way you or I or even the smartest person in the world could possibly know this. The question of where any resource has greatest value is unknowlable by any person, because the number of competing uses for that resource and all the calculations required to derive value for each of them, taking into account substitute resources for each of them, taking into account their location and the timing of their need, taking into account all the alertnative ways they could achieve their ends without the resource, is simply incalculable. Whatever moral or ehtical or practical objection you have to markets, the one thing they excel at is doing a better job (though by no means perfect) of solving this equation than individuals or committees or experts could possibly hope for.

      • ben 6.1.2

        You’re addressing the wrong person.

        My bad, apologies.

    • RedLogix 6.2

      Oh, and this commentator in the Sydney Morning Herald has a scathing condemnation of conventional thinking:

      The global financial crisis has revealed major weaknesses in conventional economics. Economists will need to face up to these if their discipline is to recover its reputation and relevance.

      Many of these shortcomings arise from the belief that markets and economies are inherently stable. That is, the market system is self-righting. It’s usually in ”equilibrium” (balance) and, should some external event push it into disequilibrium, this sets off a process that returns the system to equilibrium quickly and easily.

      Economists hold to this belief for various reasons. One is that it makes economics nice and neat, providing simple explanations and predictions (the predictions may not be very accurate, but who’s counting?). It makes it easier to conduct economic analysis using maths rather than words, which makes academic economists feel scientific and intellectually high-powered.

      But the belief in self-righting markets also fits nicely with the political philosophy of libertarianism – the supremacy of freedom of the individual, the minimal need for governments and taxes.

      And it suits business interests, who want maximum freedom to make a buck in any way they see fit.

      • ben 6.2.1

        Red, I believe the SMH quote has nothing to do with allocative efficiency, which is what the copper issue is. Macroeconomic equilibrium and the current recession really is different and unrelated. Nobody’s arguing the current recession is the product of people not understanding their own preferences.

        • RedLogix 6.2.1.1

          Ben,

          You miss the point entirely… macro economic equilibrium is a mathematical and logical myth:

          Quite to the contrary, the representative agent approach in economics has simply set the macro sphere equal to the micro sphere in all respects. One could, indeed, say that this concept negates the existence of a macro sphere and the necessity of investigating macroeconomic phenomena in that it views the entire economy as an organism governed by a universal will.6 Any notion of “systemic risk’ or “coordination failure’ is necessarily absent from, and alien to, such a methodology.

          Dahlem Report p8.

          Behavioural Economists have been long arguing that the whole of macro economics is based on a number of fatal logical flaws, the notion of allocative efficiency is a nonsense, that so called competitive markets produce no more total welfare than monopolies, and the whole neo-classical intellectual structure of mainstream economics is a failure.

          The mere fact that the vast majority of professional economists completely and utterly failed to formally predict the current global financial crisis… is all the evidence needed.

          • ben 6.2.1.1.1

            You miss the point entirely macro economic equilibrium is a mathematical and logical myth

            …which is off-point in this thread, and doesn’t respond to anything I’m talking about. You are right about the failure of economics to anticipate the crisis. But it would be an almost perfect non sequitur to draw any conclusions from that about the ability of people facing market prices for copper and other materials to select the right piping for their homes.

  7. Innocent bystander 7

    There is a difference between peak oil and peak metal. Hydrocarbons are used up when burned for fuel. Metals are able to be recovered through recycling. If the supply of metals gets low enough then recycling will become more economic and the free market will kick in (I’m not normally in thrall to the free market but it will work). Obviously prices will go up and some metals will not be recoverable. Peak oil on the other hand is something that is really worth losing sleep over.

    Unfortunately the free market will also dictate that places where it was uneconomic or undesirable to extract hydrocarbons and minerals from previously will become a lot more attractive. Mining national parks or worse Antarctica will be easier than changing our behavior to reduce, reuse and recycle or finding sustainable alternatives.

    • Draco T Bastard 7.1

      Without the energy that oil provides how will the metals be recycled?

    • Marty G 7.2

      Recycling is the solution (if there’s the energy) the problem at present isn’t that the metals are being destroyed like hydrocarbons are it’s that at the end of the product’s life they’re being dumped into landfills and the oceans – how are we going to get that stuff back? Landfill mining – the way of the future?

  8. randal 8

    I’m hip to this dude.
    plant a tree.

  9. ben 9

    The US now imports over 90 per cent of its so-called “rare earth’ metals from China, according to the US Geological Survey. If China decided to cut off the supply, that would create a big risk of conflict, says Reller.

    Well now why would China cut off supply, exactly? It couldn’t just cut off supply to America, but to everybody (there are secondary markets) to stop America getting it. Look it what it has to lose from infuriating America:

    a) billions of dollars of sales of those metals, needlessly foregone

    b) America cancels its debt to China, a massive transfer of wealth to America

    c) America and possibly the world invades

    So I don’t quite understand the argument.

    • Draco T Bastard 9.1

      You’re asking the wrong question. The one you should be asking is What does China gain by only selling completed products to America rather than the raw materials?

      America seems intent to inflate the debt away anyway so China holding on to US$ isn’t doing itself any favours.

      America may invade but I suspect that they couldn’t afford to. It’s damned expensive trying to enforce imperialism on a country half a world away especially when that country is:
      1) Bigger than you
      2) Has more resources than you
      3) Has joined an alliance with another country that is all of the above as well

      America is no longer a superpower. I doubt if it’ll be any sort of power in a few decades.

      So I don’t quite understand the argument.

      Reality doesn’t conform to your delusion so your inability to understand it isn’t surprising.

      • ben 9.1.1

        Dracro ,what does all that have to do with anything?

        The original comment was:

        If China decided to cut off the supply, that would create a big risk of conflict, says Reller.

        Again, why would China cut it off?

        Thanks for the insult, by the way. What delusion would that be? Has any country ever so blatantly disregarded its own interests as this author is suggesting China might? So why should we expect China to start now?

  10. jarbury 10

    Aren’t some of the metals used in the batteries of electric cars pretty damn rare? So much for that saviour from peak oil – what idea next Steven Joyce?

    • r0b 10.1

      Aren’t some of the metals used in the batteries of electric cars pretty damn rare?

      Yes.

      what idea next Steven Joyce

      It won’t be public transport. Too many proles would use it.

  11. Quoth the Raven 11

    I don’t have time to argue the contradictions, conflations etc in this thread now. But I will say this I support a free market. Free markets can’t do anything about the environment fullstop. Onle people can do something about it. The whole problem is one of negative externalities. It should be clear to anyone that they are not properly dealt with now. The state as it is socializes these externalities. One can argue from this for less state intervention in the market to protect the environment. I’ll quote Carson on this:

    In most cases (stipulating that some cases exist), government action is not needed to prevent externalities; rather, externalities are created by government action. In fact, Oppenheimer’s theory of the “political means” is just another way of saying that government is a mechanism for creating externalities: the state transfers the costs and risks of certain kinds of economic activity from the actors themselves to others, so that some are enabled to live at others’ expense.

    The solution, in such cases, is simply to end the existing state subsidies or privileges, so that the economic actor fully internalizes the negative consequences of his action through the price mechanism.

    • Bill 11.1

      I run an open cast gold mine. It pollutes the hell out of water for miles around…kills fish and the people who rely on those fish and that water. And no government/state is around to implement and enforce environmental laws. Why do I internalise the costs associated with my activities? Any of the locals get upset and the locals can talk to my well armed militia which comes in at a fraction of the cost of either greening my production or cleaning up the mess resulting from my production.

      I’m no fan of the state, but with a market economy, the state can offer at least some level of defence/safeguard against the more egregious effects of the free market.

      • Quoth the Raven 11.1.1

        Will come back to this battle because I’m short on time but I’ll point you to this again In a freed market, who will stop markets from running riot and doing crazy things? And who will stop the rich and powerful from running roughshod over everyone else?

        Arguing from a statist position that statelessness would be vulnerable to abuse, exploitation etc is bizarre to me because well that’s what we have now just look around you. It’s exactly what we want to end. Government creates chaos. Anarchy is order.

        • Bill 11.1.1.1

          The market economy has certain inherent dynamics that result in crazy shit happening. It’s just plain naive to say that we will all somehow stop the crazy shit happening ( How? Magic?) while advocating the throwing away of the one institution or set of institutions that have enough power to stop some of the more crazy shit happening.

          It’s not statelessness that opens people to abuse of all sorts, it is statelessness within the context of a market economy that opens people up to all sorts of abuse (eg the gold mining scenario above). The market is not neutral.

          Moving on, governance (the act of government) is not chaos. Chaos might arise from a lack of governance or from bad governance, but it most certainly is not created by governance in and of itself.

          How else does anarchy achieve and maintain order if not through governance?

        • Quoth the Raven 11.1.1.2

          Bill – People not magic that’s the whole point.
          There’s a distinction to be drawn between government and the state I tend not to draw.
          No one says crazy shit isn’t going to happen. Crazy shit happens now an awful awful lot so that’s no argument.
          Draco – I never said I supported an ETS. I don’t. I don’t agree with either of your assumptions. I don’t address the point of the post. Here you go then resources are running out, yes. We’re going to have to deal with it, yes. Nothing in the post that says how we ought to deal with it. As usual there a myriad of possibilites.
          There are lot of presuppositions at play from both sides that aren’t understood because we don’t access to each others full arguments worked out over time. So we have difficulty understanding where each is coming from.
          I used to be reflexively anti-market and statist. Hell I was bascially a social democrat, but as I got more interested in politics over the last couple of years with greater knowledge my ideas have changed.
          There are plenty of anarchists who hate the market. I’m pluarlist enough to not mind if your a communist or a free marketeer as long as its voluntary and non-violent.

          I recommend: Why we fight the power

          I know this has been a poor response but I promise I’ll get back to this argument on Tuesday. So I’ll leave now with a quote:

          Anarchism is no patent solution for all human problems, no Utopia of a perfect social order, as it has so often been called, since on principle it rejects all absolute schemes and concepts. It does not believe in any absolute truth, or in definite final goals for human development, but in an unlimited perfectibility of social arrangements and human living conditions, which are always straining after higher forms of expression, and to which for this reason one can assign no definite terminus nor set any fixed goal.

          • Draco T Bastard 11.1.1.2.1

            And I used to free-market and voted National until I learned more and actually thought about things. Go read Debunking Economics to get an idea as to why your free-market utopia will never work.

            I’m pluarlist enough to not mind if your a communist or a free marketeer as long as its voluntary and non-violent.

            I’m anarchist enough not to give a shit WTF you think of my politics. I’m also free-market enough to know that it’s best to make decisions, such as setting standards and keeping an eye on resource use, based upon what the specialists who have researched it say and not on what individuals want for their own self-interest because no single person can know everything. It’s society that will set the rules and enforce them. Individuals are then free to work within those rules.

            • Quoth the Raven 11.1.1.2.1.1

              Calm down Draco.

              On debunking economics maybe you should read some of the work of the Austrians. They’re avid free market advocates and maintain that economics is not a science. They rail against other schools of economics.

              The perfect knowledge argument and tragedy of the commons are used and abused by both sides. The argument around perfect knowledge is used as much against central planning as against the free market and the tragedy of the commons is used to argue for the complete private ownership of natural resources. So forgive me if I find neither convincing for whatever side is making the argument and it’s not just about economic theory it’s about ethics.

              You couldn’t be free market and have voted National. That makes no sense whatsoever unless of course you had no sense of what the free market actually entails.
              .

    • Draco T Bastard 11.2

      So you support a strong ETS but you don’t support the existence of the rules needed ensure it works?

      The free-market (and anarchism itself really) require two things to work

      1.) Everybody must have perfect knowledge
      2.) Everybody must be willing to sacrifice their own best personal self-interest for the common good (second-best personal self-interest)

      Last time I looked we weren’t gods and not all people were willing to do the second one. The reality is that the Tragedy of the Commons wouldn’t happen if there were rules that everyone obeyed. The rules are there because we’re not gods and we’re not all altruistic.

      EDIT: As an aside, you didn’t even address the posts point that all the resources needed for modern civilisation are running out.

  12. Bill 12

    “Now what?”

    Next best thing of course!

    Capitalism is a bit passe and up itself. No?

    We got by for how long without indium, gallium and hafnium? Without LCDs and cell phones and computer chips? And what proportion of humanity still does? Where’s the real calamity? A piddly proportion of humanity losing some hi tech possibilities or the billions suffering inadequate sustenance due to the actions/ inactions of said piddly proportion?

  13. I don’t think national will ever mine National Parks, it will be the death of them at the next election.

  14. jcuknz 14

    I had a clean up recently and picked up a few taps, fittings, and copper pipe lying around … took it to the scrap metal dealer and came away with $58 … amazing!

    It is not just the mineral industry that polutes. The NYT a couple of days ago had an article and quote from a householder in the area stating’ the tap water comes out smelling like a barn” Farm effluent run-off into the water table.

  15. aj 15

    Since there was a deviation into free market economics a little further up this thread, I thought I’d stray into Adam Smith territory and put this link up which I thought has an interesting point of view on the invisible hand of the market..

    http://angrybear.blogspot.com/2009/09/norman-borlaug-michael-jackson-and.html

    • BLiP 15.1

      Great link. Thanks.

      I despair, however, because despite all the science in relation to the climate, for so long as we are ruled by the corporates and their public relations there’s little chance of anything changing. One just has to look at the vehemence behind the denialists on just this site spouting out their nonsense as if it were fact to get a glimpse at the confusion being deliberately generated to deny reality. Even when confronted with facts, the denialists’ brain washing has been so thorough they are incapable of a change in position. I am in no doubt that the corporates have all the facts, yet why do they still persist? Its as irrational as seeking deliberately to bring on the Rapture but, in fact, carrying out the work of Mammon.

      When oh when will the sleeping masses wake the fuck up!

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