Green Purr

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  1. This figure was mislabeled by the BBC. For mineral resources, it shows the period for “reserves”, not “resources”. Reserves are defined by extensive drilling to define exactly what is in the ground so that a bank will lend the money needed for development; it is expensive to have reserves on a companies books. By contrast, resources are the amount that are just next door to reserves but have had less drilling done; they are reasonably certain to be there. Thus, in 32 years, there will likely still be about 30 years of copper reserves. Having said this, non-renewal resources are just that; the US Geological Survey estimates that known copper resources will supply demand for about 300 years. In order to continue to provide the resources required for a modern society – as used by individuals, for cars to cell phones – we must ensure that metals are as much as possible recycled, and that technology continues to help us do more with less (hybrid cars now only require 1/3 as much rare earth elements as a few years ago).

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