Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Jumping From the Pan Into the Fire?
I read something recently that I didn't know, hadn't thought of and frankly scared the heck out of me. We have been focusing more on energy independence from oil recently to get awy from having to deal with one entity holding all the strings, namely the Middle East. So we have instead slowly shifted our attention to things such as hybrid/electric vehicles, windmills and such. These things give off warm and fuzzy feelings judging by the way everyone talks but when you peer a little deeper into this, well I'm scared. You see hybrid/electric vehicles, windmills and anything else with a generator that converts motion to electricity employ the use of lots of light magnets. These light magnets are made of rare earth materials that really aren't rare but are hard to mine due to radiation and finding them in sufficient quantities to make mining feasible. From the 40's until the 80's, almost all the world's supply of rare earth materials came from a single mine in California. Then in the 80's, another country discovered a giant supply that is now compared to the oil weath of the Middle East. Because of the tight environmental regulations of California, this new country now supplies most of the world with cheap rare earth materials used to build magnets. What country is this you ask? Ah, now this is the scary part so hold onto your seat. China is the answer. Think about that before you go and purchase your next Toyota Prius.