[Marxism] A Different Environmental Threat: Peak Rare Minerals, China, and Green Technology

Michael Perelman michael at ecst.csuchico.edu
Sun Sep 6 14:50:26 MDT 2009


On Sun, Sep 06, 2009 at 08:39:16PM +0200, Jeff wrote:
> 
> I think the discussion of such "shortages" has to do with the short-term
> price fluctuations that may concern industry and speculators, but the
> specter of any one country (or even a few countries) having long-term
> control of one essential resource doesn't seem like a real problem. They
> would find alternatives if and when they had to.

Yes, but to do so can require a decade or more.

> Note that the
> proportion you just gave of 1 ppm of gold in the ore they mine, is much
> lower than the 38 ppm of neodymium over the entire earth (not to mention
> its abundance where they actually mine it), and the yearly production
> (again according to Wikipedia) is only 7000 tons (but surely rising rapidly).
>
You learn something everyday.  Thanks.
 
> Also, there may be a semantic confusion involved. Neodymium is classified
> as a "rare earth" according to its position on the periodic chart, but that
> is just the name for elements of atomic number 57 to 71. It isn't nearly as
> rare as gold or platinum. Its production being dominated by China doesn't
> seem to be of long-term significance, as far as I can tell, and it
> certainly isn't facing any "peak" in production due to depletion.
> 
As Sartesian noted, the peak can come at any point.  It cannot be known to 
have occurred unless the output in the last period exceed all the existing 
[not necessarily known] supply.  Even then, you can redefine the peak by 
measuring it in terms of output per second rather than output per year.  
But a peak will occur nonetheless.

I guess with all the baggage associated with peak, I could have used 
another term.

-- 
Michael Perelman
Economics Department
California State University
Chico, CA 95929

Tel. 530-898-5321
E-Mail michael at ecst.csuchico.edu
michaelperelman.wordpress.com




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