Tuesday, 21 November 2017


Extracting treasure from the Earth is very dirty business—only exacerbated by our insatiable drive to eke out just a bit more profit informed by chemistry.
Humans are slowly coming to terms with the idea that the planet has finite resources, and until it becomes commercially viable to mine asteroids (I’d argue that that time has arrived since it might spare us some of the scars of excavation and render the advantage that scarcity confers meaningless—or at least make it something aspirational) there are quite a few strategically significant elements that are in danger of running out, as illustrated on this period table.  As we learn the consequences of treating our home as if it were inexhaustible, we are also on the verge of realising that our lifestyle (outfitted with electronic components that require certain amounts of these endangered) is not sustainable. It’s especially disappointing to consider we might be sacrificing future spaceships and foregoing genuine technological progress for the sake of baubles and charms whose potion calls for a dash of indium and a pinch of hafnium.