Another “scarce” resource… Copper

We use it in pretty much anything that has to do with electronics. Our water runs through it, and our technology depends on it.

So what would happen if… all of a sudden, the supply of Copper became just a little too tight?. It certainly has the geek folk at Slashdot buzzing.

Scientific American addresses the issue.

Says Thomas Graedel of Yale University,

We can say considerably better than people have been able to say in the past how much does it take if the world is going to live like a person from a developed country.”

North America alone mined 164 million metric tons of the reddish-brown metal. Then, based on current discovery rates and existing geologic surveys, the researchers estimated that 1.6 billion metric tons of copper exist that could potentially be brought into use. This figure relies on the broadest possible definition of available copper as well as a lack of energy constraints and environmental concerns. In contrast, the U.S. Geological Survey predicts there is only 950 million metric tons of the metal that could be recovered.

Moral of the story:

This is just more proof that the life that you and I live… sitting here in front of our computer screens simply is not “scalable”. There simply isn’t enough “stuff” on Earth to provide our level of development to all 6.5 Billion souls.

So what happens? As Chinas 1.3 billion (including 100+ million Internet Users) and Indias round 1 billion people reach ever skyward for that industrialized name tag how will our resource industries maintai the output needed?

Personally, I think the copper industry is a moot point… we’ll be feeling the pinch from oil and natural gas shortages (which of course power the copper and every other industry) long before.

Like… say.. this year, at least in Russia, how ironic, and that affects Europe, especially Italy, who’s at the end of the pipeline.

The World consumed oil at a whopping 83.3mb/d through 2005… and how fast is the world pumping oil? 85mb/d in December.

That’s a mere 1.7mb/d “extra” capacity.

American Hawks: Still keen to “glassify Iran” maybe that’s not such a great idea. In fact… our own excess is ensuring that countries like Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Russia, and Iran, not us, have the real leverage in the world.

(and no, Canada has no leverage because we still have only a fraction of world oil supply and are energy puppets to our southern friends… frankly, it’s the way I prefer it.)

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