Preface. Capitalism believes there’s a solution for everything due to Man’s Inventive Brain, but when it comes to getting metals out of the earth, there are some very serious limitations. In parts per billion, there’s only 4 of platinum, 20 of silver, and less than 1 part for many important metals. Yet they are essential for cars, wind turbines, electronics, military weapons, oil refining, and dozens of other uses listed below.
China controls 97% of rare earth metals. Uh-oh.
The overwhelming majority of Earth’s crust is made of hydrogen and oxygen. The only metals present in large amounts within the crust are aluminum and iron, with the latter also dominating the planetary core. These four elements make up about 90% of the mass of the crust, with silicon, nickel, magnesium, sulfur, and calcium rounding out another 9% of the planet’s mass.
Our civilization is far more dependent on very rare elements than I’d realized, which are extremely scarce and being dissipated since so few are recycled (it’s almost impossible to recycle them though, the cost is too high, and many elements are hard to separate from one another).
So in addition to peak oil, add in peak metals to the great tidal wave of collapse on the horizon.
What follows are my kindle notes.
Alice Friedemann www.energyskeptic.com author of “When Trucks Stop Running: Energy and the Future of Transportation”, 2015, Springer and “Crunch! Whole Grain Artisan Chips and Crackers”. Podcasts: Practical Prepping, KunstlerCast 253, KunstlerCast278, Peak Prosperity , XX2 report
Keith Veronese. 2015. Rare: The High-Stakes Race to Satisfy Our Need for the Scarcest Metals on Earth. Prometheus books.
Scientifically, metals are known for a common set of properties. Almost all metals have the ability to transmit electricity and heat—very useful properties in the world of electronics.
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