RE: possible future shortages of other resources

From: Vandergraaf, Chuck (
Date: Wed Aug 01 2001 - 09:07:46 EDT

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    The Hubbert curve for the production of resources (a modified Bell shaped
    curve indicating growth, equilibrium and decline) applies to all
    non-renewable, finite resources. Some resources are considered so valuable
    that we don't throw them out but recycle them. For example, you won't find
    many gold rings in landfill sites. For other elements, such as iron, there
    is so much around, that most of us in North America think twice about towing
    the old family chariot to the dump.
    We need to keep in mind that we have exactly the same amount of Au, Fe, Cd,
    Si, Al, etc., on the earth now as we had 5 000 years ago. Well, with the
    exception of U-235; the amount has decreased somewhat as it is fissioned in
    nuclear reactors. It just has been redistributed. From a thermodynamic
    perspective, we concentrate ores and extract chemical elements (decrease
    randomness). This takes energy. For many elements, we simply toss them out
    or otherwise disperse them (increase randomness). To get the stuff back in
    higher concentration, we have to decrease randomness again and that takes,
    ... energy.
    So, in the final analysis, energy is the required component to reorganize
    the elements in the way we want/need them. The alternative is to wait until
    geological processes do the rearranging for us, by moving the diluted
    elements around through moving water and depositing them in sediments and
    then let the rock cycle form them into ore deposits again. Most of can't
    wait that long, though, at least not the military. ;-)
    As for water, the same applies: there is no less water now than there was 5
    000 years ago. It is just being redistributed. I sympathize with you po'
    folks in Amarillo, but (and I'm not trying to be callous) you are no worse
    off than the poor folks in the sub-Sahara that see the sand of the desert
    coming closer and closer, or the people in Kiribati or in parts of Florida
    who may risk losing their country when the Ocean level rises. But, there
    again, in Amarillo, you are only ~1 000 km from a very plentiful water
    supply: the Gulf of Mexico. All you need to do is build a desalination
    plant along its shores and pipe the water to Amarillo. All it takes is
    energy. And that's where people like Glen Morton raise the warning flag.
    Chuck Vandergraaf

    -----Original Message-----
    From: Darryl Maddox []
    Sent: Wednesday August 01, 2001 6:40 AM
    Subject: possible future shortages of other resources

    The recent information and discussions about oil production curves and the
    effects of a decrease in annual hydrocarbon production at a time when
    nations are trying to improve their standard of living by increasing their
    utilization of energy for manufacturing, travel, and agriculture caused me
    to wonder if anyone has applied similar mathematical models to other natural
    resources which may be cricital to a high standard of living. The first
    that comes to mind is good old low tech water, but that is because we here
    in Amarillo Texas have come through the hottest (as measured by the number
    of days the official daily high temperature reached or exceeded 100 {13 vs
    10 for previous high in 1934} and driest (0.04 inches of rain vs mothly
    average of 2.64) July on record for us. While most people understand our
    need for water I suspect most don't have any idea there are many minerals
    and elements which are critical to some degree or other to our standard of
    living, to our technologies for manufacturing luxury items, for
    manufacturing things that make the daily tasks of living easier or more
    pleasant, for manufacturing items that are essential to our current way of
    living, working and communicating, and lastly and most importantly to our
    defense AND that some of these elements and minerals may be getting in short
    Anyone have thoughts or information on this variation of the energy shortage

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