Mineral Future

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  • #98357 Reply
    michael norton

      Clark, O.K. what I would be interested in exploring is how much damage will E.V. do?
      As they run, no tail pipe emissions. Great. How much Carbon is released into he biosphere by the open cast extraction of twenty different minerals? How much fresh water is pissed up the wall, in the washing out of E.V. mineral extraction? Is this water contaminated by minerals, say like Lead or Copper?
      What happens to the people who live in the area of the mines, are they killed or just moved on?
      What happens to this economic model when the Copper becomes too expensive to extract? Copper poisoning, is serious, I’ve had a friend die of Copper poisoning. When, say after five years the E.V. battery pack starts to malfunction, is this the end of life fore that E.V. vehicle? Does anybody in the World, recycle E.V. batteries?

      #98358 Reply
      michael norton

        Clark, I guess the arse is falling out of E.V. all round the World, hardly any manufactures are making money, the vast majority are in terrible financial troubles. Almost no ordinary people wish to splash the cash, the scam has been unfolded.

        #98369 Reply

          Michael, I expect electric vehicles to catch on, and do a lot of ecological damage.

          I’m being deliberately vague above. By “a lot”, I mean somewhere between “a drop in the ocean” and “this is the biggest threat the biosphere faces”. To pin it down more accurately would take full time study – and there are already people whose job that is, and they know a lot more about studying such things than I do; it’d take me years just to reach their level of competence. A bit of searching would turn up many scientific studies I expect.

          I expect electric vehicles to catch on because of the pressures of money, and because of inequality. As I mentioned above, the London ULEZ is to protect the authorities from being sued; ULEZ will enable them to argue “we did all that was economically feasible at the time”. The mining for the materials necessary for EVs takes place in countries with less rigorous health and employment laws. This is inequality; people over there suffer, to develop a lifestyle over here. Their environment gets trashed and their water polluted and depleted, while we gain better urban air quality. Essentially, it’s economic colonialism.

          Think of the early days of internal combustion vehicles. Only the super-rich could afford them, they all ran on different fuels that were hard to obtain, and a specialist driver who understood their quirks was needed. Lots of people thought the “horseless carriages” would be a passing fad. It was decades before Henry Ford unified the market by bringing the price down.

          I expect electric vehicle development will go through similar fits and starts. A lot of investment has jump-started the early mass market, but having batteries built in is a major drawback, limiting the overall life of the vehicles. ‘Western’ governments have been so ‘hands off’ that there are insufficient charging stations, with multiple incompatible charging connectors with incompatible electrical specifications. More distant governments have been more proactive – I think China has battery packs and battery swapping stations standardised by the government, so that instead of waiting for a vehicle to charge, the driver can just swap an expended battery pack for a charged one. I expect at some point standardised, combined electric supply and guide rails will be incorporated into major roads, so that vehicles can self-drive while charging on major roads, ready for battery operation and driver control in urban areas.

          Electric vehicles have some major drawbacks compared with internal combustion, but some major advantages too. You’ve already highlighted the disadvantages so here’s the other side of the coin. EVs are much simpler with a fraction as many moving parts, greatly simplifying manufacture. Energy efficiency is much higher producing far less heat, permitting oil and water circulation to be eliminated. Together, these advantages enable a much longer vehicle life, maybe a million miles – apart from the batteries. EVs are quieter, eliminate local emissions and consequent damage to health, have much higher acceleration, and are naturally highly compatible with computer control.

          So I expect the market setbacks to be temporary. At some point governments will bother to legislate more rigorously on battery safety, but you know what governments are like these days; there will probably have to be a major disaster before they’ll act.

          And meanwhile, the environmental destruction will proceed. EVs will shift the damage from emissions, oil spills, blowouts etc. to mining, water depletion, pollution of water sources etc. At first this will look like a solution because there are a hell of a lot of internal combustion engines and far fewer electric vehicles, but that balance will shift – just as in the 20th century the balance shifted from runaway horses and manure in the streets, to noise, lead poisoning, asthma and global heating.
          – – – – – –

          There’s another matter driving the change to EVs but it rarely gets mentioned, and that’s fossil fuel depletion. For the last three northern hemisphere winters, fuel supplies have been hard stretched to keep up with demand, and in various poorer countries, they’ve failed to keep the lights on. This started before Russia invaded Ukraine. Your own point above is illustrative; another fourteen years or so of oil deposits have been identified (and it takes fifteen years just to build a nuclear power station), but we’d have to go literally to the ends of the Earth to extract it. Russia is venturing towards the other pole in pursuit of gas. “Demand destruction” has begun; governments are encouraging solar and wind generation, tentatively encouraging EVs, but also quietly but heavily subsidising buses; e.g. you can now bus from Whitby to Leeds for two quid. It’s a diesel bus.

          #98368 Reply
          michael norton

            First we should ask what problems are we trying to solve?

            If the only problem we are going to be thinking through is Anthropogenic Global Warming,
            we must then understand that the World cannot support 8.1 billion people. Who will choose the seventy five percent who will have to die? At the present time Agriculture runs on Oil and Methane products. Remove fossil fuels and glaringly obvious problems – pop up.
            Where will the fossil fertilsers come from? At present (for Europe) they come from Ukraine/Belarus/Poland and Russia.
            “Inorganic fertilisers: These are synthetic, artificial forms of plant nutrients or naturally occurring mined minerals.”
            We could of course go back to Organic agriculture, that would mean that three quarters of people presently alive, would have to die.
            At present, almost all farm vehicles run on Diesel.
            You can of course make Biodiesel from Maize/Sunflower/Potato/Rice/Sugarcane.
            This would result in a loss of food for eating?
            Maybe you could run a tractor using batteries? However your farming day would be interrupted by needing to recharge your battery.
            Sometimes the farm vehicles are in use for twenty hours a day, during collecting the crops, you could not just wait for twelve hours, while it recharged, so you would have to have three times as many vehicles or three times as many battery packs, can anybody spot any problems, yet?
            Perhaps we could have farm vehicles that ran on Methane, that would be practical – however most people would include Methane as being in the camp of Fossil Fuels.
            Some farms do make their own BIOMETHANE out of farm waste, like urea, this is a good idea but probably only practicable on a huge estate, but small farms could truck there wast in.
            However if you use your Urea for making Methane, you can not also use it for Organic Fertiliser?
            We seem to be going in circles but how to break out of the circle?
            Many less people could square the circle.
            Maybe Thomas Malthus was right, all along?

            #98376 Reply
            michael norton

              The most basic level of human existence relies of fresh water and food.
              Fresh water falls from the heavens.
              If huge quantities of fresh water are used to clean minerals, like Cadmium, Lithium, Lead, mercury, Copper, Uranium, Cobalt, Tungsten, Nickel, Aluminium, Titanium, Zinc, Tin, and so on, will this fresh water just go to Sea or will it be cleaned and used for fresh drinking water?
              Food is produced on farms and now in factories, the basic modern system relies of Methane produced fertilisers.
              If we do no longer wish to use Methane, how will we obtain the mineral fertilisers?
              These are critically important questions, never aired bu the Media?

              #98384 Reply
              michael norton

                If we do think that the over riding concern is Anthropogenic Global Warming, what would be the most efficient way to tackle that problem. I would suggest first we should address food production. The most efficient internal combustion engine is one that runs on Methane. Essentially, Methane supply is unlimited. Of all the fossil Carbons, Methane is the least damaging. You could have a Methane/battery hybrid. I understand there are digesters. Things like weeds, willow coppice, straw, animal waste, can be converted to Methane. Maybe use some fossil Methane and some Bio Methane.
                In the North East of England there will be at least two mines extracting Polyhalite.

                #98476 Reply
                Pigeon English

                  Interesting debate!

                  I would like to add our hypocrisy.

                  USA imposed 100% tariffs on China EV´s.
                  BYD maker is producing EV @ $ 10000 which is much cheaper than
                  USA or EU made EV.

                  The USA is imposing 50% tax on solar panels!

                  Do we care about the environment or not?

                  #98478 Reply
                  michael norton

                    Personally I think pure EV like Tesla, is a dead end route.
                    If you had a battery pack 1/20 size ( of Tesla), then ran a Methane engine, you might be on to a winner.
                    Around the world many vehicles use Methane, they call it compressed natural gas.
                    The trouble with pure EV is the ghastly exploitation of land/minerals/fresh water.
                    There will never be enough for the whole world to go pure EV.

                    #98499 Reply

                      Michael, I entirely agree that there is far more to humanity’s predicament than AGW, and that sorting out agriculture and mineral demands are among the major priorities.

                      Do you know about “the carbon budget”? This is what makes emissions reductions so urgent. The CO2 goes into the atmosphere where it impedes outgoing heat, but just like putting on a jumper, the resultant temperature rise is gradual as the trapped warmth accumulates. But unlike a jumper, we can’t just remove the CO2 if we start feeling too hot, we’re stuck with it for centuries. Even if all emissions stopped today (which would of course be disastrous) the temperature would continue to rise. Just how much and for how long it would rise is still a matter of scientific research; it is called the “climate sensitivity”, and predicting it is complicated; it’s not like we have a representative sample of Earth-like planets to study. But of course emissions won’t and can’t stop today, so we’re constantly putting on more jumpers that we can’t take off, with only educated guesses and computer simulations of how hot we’ll eventually get.

                      The carbon budget is the estimate of how much carbon can still be burned if the biosphere is to remain beneath a given temperature rise. Most climate scientists agree that the budget for +1.5 degrees has already been spent, and many are worried that +2 degrees or more is already locked in. Such rises are likely to cause other forms of heating, e.g. causing wildfires that release yet more CO2, melting the permafrost that contains a lot of methane, or melting snow and ice which at present are reflecting sunlight back out into space. There are many such potential “tipping points”.

                      The reason emissions reductions are urgent is that they have been left too late, they should have been started decades ago. Protection of nature and habitats has been left too late too; thousands of species are being driven extinct every year.

                      And yeah, electric cars solve none of this, in fact I expect they’ll make it worse because cars need roads, car parks, and other infrastructure; all that concrete and nature concreted over, and all the associated emissions.

                      I’m for rationing, because rationing is fair – everyone gets their ration, regardless of their wealth. It worked in WWII. It overcomes resentment – “why should I be restricted to a bike when they fly around in private jets?”

                      #98507 Reply
                      michael norton

                        Clark, let’s for a moment imagine a dystopian future, where only battery vehicles are permitted, the World Electricty Grid has expanded multiple times, all metals are made using electricty, the world is criss croossed with Pylons, electric cables and sub stations, vast areas of the earth are covered in solar farms, all in shore seas are covered in wind farms, every river has been dammed by steel and concrete to produce more electricity, five billion EV street chargers have been installed, vast AI Data centres /computers use one quarter of all electricity produced.
                        What would be the quality of life, for life, where will the wild critters live, where will the trees grow?
                        Just the hum of electricity to accompany us in our degraded, structured and controlled existances.

                        #98521 Reply
                        Fat Jon

                          I’m afraid I have decided that Michael Norton is best ignored. He has an obesession with EV cars and mineral extraction which is now bordering on the unhealthy.

                          He has posted about 100 separate messages which basically say the same thing. Ask him a question and he ignores it. Post a link and he will cherry pick half a sentence out of context and use it as a straw man to knock down with yet another rent a quote on mineral extraction or fresh water usage.

                          He bleats on about what might happen to people living near mineral extraction sites, but stays rather silent on what happens to people living near tar sands extraction sites, oil wells, or refineries. He doesn’t even bother with the £billions of damage done to the environment from past oil spills.

                          Who knows if electric vehicles and their batteries will last 20 years? It is a relatively new technology and the truth is no one knows. And how representative is one person’s 20 year old diesel car which must only pump out air freshener from its exhaust?

                          #98538 Reply

                            I dunno; how do we get people talking about what matters? I think conspiracy theory matters because AGW denial is a type of conspiracy theory. Most modern conspiracy theory takes aim at science; it’s not like the old days when it was all about JFK.

                            #98565 Reply
                            michael norton

                              At present about 80% of all energy consumed is fossil.
                              If you want concrete you need fossil.
                              If you want to tarmacadam you need fossil.
                              If you need metals, you first have to move massive quantities of fossil.
                              You need fossil to obtain the metals.
                              If you want plastics, you need fossil.
                              If you want crops you need fossil.
                              If you want medicine you need fossil.

                              If all fossil fuel burning stops, how many times extra renewables will be required?

                              #98572 Reply

                                Michael, most of the processes you mention above require the HEAT from the burning of fossil fuels not the fuels themselves. If heat can be provided from another source it will do the same thing.

                                Plastics are very useful in certain applications but do I really need my biscuits in a plastic wrapper and tray so they appear more premium and can command a higher price? Both wrapper and tray will be tossed in the (recycling) bin because I can’t eat them. Do I need my new screwdriver encased in that f***ing impossible to tear plastic which is also going in the bin when I get the thing out of it. How many unnecessary uses of plastic can you think of? Could we not just use it where absolutely necessary and use something else more sustainable, like paper or cardboard, where it’s not?

                                Perhaps some medicines derive from fossil fuel precursors (I can’t think of any in my head but I do believe there are some) and no one is advocating to stop that.

                                I am going to ask you the same question you have been asked to address a number of times. If you accept that burning fossil fuels produces gigatons of CO2, that that CO2 is accumulating in the atmosphere at an rate much faster than any previous epoch and increasing the greenhouse effect such that the planet is warming as a whole – i.e. absorbing and holding onto more energy – that that warming will alter the current climate and ocean flow balance (basically energy flows/heat transfers around the planet) leading to melting of huge amounts of ice, rising sea levels, changing of climate in areas, some colder, some warmer and all the rest of it etc. etc……what is your solution? How are you going to address the CO2 (and other greenhouse gases) in the atmosphere. Please don’t keep telling us what, in your opinion, is not the solution or how such and such a solution is unrealistic or will cause hardship to people, tell us what YOUR solution to address the problem is.

                                #98573 Reply

                                  OK michael, you tell us. What’s to be done?

                                  #98570 Reply
                                  michael norton

                                    [ Posted @ 19:54 – timestamp updated. ]

                                    If you do not want clothes made from animals, then most cheaply available clothes will be made from fossil.
                                    If you want building blocks you will find they are made from Pulverised Fuel Ash – this mostly comes from coal fired power stations, as a waste product. If you want insulation boards, you will find they are made from fossil.
                                    It is going to be very, very hard to get away from fossil.

                                    #98584 Reply
                                    michael norton

                                      ET, yes, of course I accept that burning fossil fuels causes Carbon dioxide to circulate in the atmosphere. I can accept that the world has become 1.4°C warmer. I can accept that the seas have risen a few centimetres.
                                      Some of that increase in CO2 will become reabsorbed by the 20% of extra green leaf coverage (NASA 35-year study) and Carbon will also get into the soils.
                                      Soils are mostly made from trees: for example, as a leaf falls to the ground its destiny is to make top soil.
                                      The NASA study has only concerned itself with a 35-year window. If we are to understand that CO2 has been going up in atmospheric concentration since farming started, then again since coal burning, then quite probably the greening has been going on for a long while.
                                      On the other side, deforestation plays against this. Deforestation will cause CO2 to increase in the atmosphere. As for what to do, that is rather more difficult to articulate.
                                      I would suggest getting rid of cats and dogs: they eat meat. If humans are to be discouraged from eating meat, then we do not need meat-eating pets. I would suggest, flying should be discouraged. You could start by taxing aviation fuel.
                                      Almost nobody needs to fly. It has been said that only a few percent of the world’s population fly; they just keep doing it, they contribute a lot of added CO2 to the atmosphere, they care not a jot. Concrete is quite a problem: it is made from Limestone, which is hundreds of millions of years of locked-up Carbon. Why do we keep making buildings/structures that don’t stay up for long?
                                      My local hospital, Frimley Park, is to be torn down because it has exceeded its planned life. That planned life was thirty years. RAAC. That hospital is now 50 years old and is being propped up with arco. Why build a hospital to only last thirty years? I genuinely think that Methane has a massive part to play. Hundreds of millions of vehicles run on Compressed Natural Gas, so this is an understood system. Using methanogenic archaea, we can grow Methane; this fuel would not be a fossil fuel.
                                      Maybe, mix it with fossil Methane. Put 1/20th (Tesla battery) with a CNG engine and you have a stop-gap hybrid technology.
                                      By using a battery 1/20th the size of a Tesla battery you are using much less valuable minerals per vehicle, so more change for more people. Most of the people in the world will not be jumping to buy a pure EV. Stop advertising/marketing. People buy stuff they did not know they need, mindless consumerism. If they did not know about a product, they would not buy it. One thing I feel strongly about is putting animals in fields. It gives the animals a better quality of life and it naturally feeds the soil, which in turn feeds the crops. Plant rows of nut or fruit trees in fields, so that you can still get your agricultural plant up and down the fields. The trees, also aid the soil structure. The trees work against erosion and encourage bees. Encourage people to be more physically active, get them to walk more, cycle more; you don’t always need to travel by vehicle.
                                      Mostly want less stuff and expect to have less stuff and be happy with less stuff.

                                      #98589 Reply

                                        Michael, I think that’s a very good set of approaches; better than I’ve seen from politics in over thirty years. I’m very glad I asked 🙂

                                        I’m not saying that you’ve got all the answers, as you said, “It is going to be very, very hard to get away from fossil”, and I’m not saying that all your answers are perfect, I’m sure there will be unforeseen consequences, but you have just shown that there is more sense in one mind than in thirty years of government policy. It’s a travesty that the most influence you’re offered is to choose a box in which to draw a cross every five years.

                                        Extinction Rebellion seems vindicated in agitating for Citizens’ Assemblies:

                                        1) Tell the Truth – about the climate and ecological emergency,
                                        2) Act now!
                                        3) Decide Together – with Peoples’ and Citizens’ Assemblies.


                                        #98591 Reply
                                        michael norton

                                          ET and Clark, perhaps we should also try to move away from man-made synthetic fibres.

                                          “Synthetic fibres are made only from polymers found in natural gas and the by-products of petroleum. They include nylon, acrylics, polyurethane and polypropylene. Millions of tons of these fibres are produced all over the world each year.”

                                          At the time of WW1 nearly all material was from plant or animal products.
                                          Wool, leather, flax, hemp, jute, coir, cotton, silk, bamboo and so on.

                                          #98625 Reply
                                          michael norton


                                            it is magic, the lightest metal.
                                            A compound known as lithium deuteride, which is created by combining lithium and deuterium, is used as the fuel in modern thermonuclear weapons.

                                            “Some of Tesla’s batteries, for example, use about 62.6kgs of lithium.
                                            Lithium batteries can be expensive and difficult to extract, requiring a huge amount of water and heavy-metal intensive technology to produce. Lithium extraction also causes mineral waste, as well as soil erosion and water pollution.
                                            Lithium mining has been heavily associated with unethical practices such as child and forced labour, especially in countries where the metal is abundant, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
                                            Furthermore, they are also difficult to recycle, leading to high annual wastage.”


                                            #98677 Reply

                                              ET and Clark, perhaps we should also try to move away from man-made synthetic fibres.

                                              In general, when I buy clothes I always try to buy natural fibres, wool, cotton etc. However it’s more difficult with some clothing items, rain coats and such stuff. I also dread to think how much plastic comes along with stuff I buy, packaging etc.
                                              On the other hand maybe it’s not such a bad thing that some recycled plastics go to making fleeces etc.

                                              As for EVs, my opinion is that we are at the early of a transition from ICE to electrical vehicles and as with lots of other comparable products, say mobile phones then smart phones, PC’s, TVs, Radios, electricity to homes in the past, that transition will start with the early adopters moving to becoming a more acceptable( economically and socially) then main stream until the ICE vehicles will mostly disappear. It’s a bell curve of adoption but will take 20-30 years. Despite recent scare stories about the decline in EV sales they represent an ever growing proportion of new car sales.

                                              Anyway, all that aside I came to post a link to this Capitalism can’t overcome the laws of physics. In this piece are references to the laws of thermodynamics which even capitalism cannot break. Previously Natasha argued this point in a different thread.

                                              #98684 Reply
                                              michael norton

                                                Apparently, in the recent European Elections, the group that got trounced the most, were the Greens.
                                                Voters have come to a realization that they can’t afford Net Zero.
                                                There is desperate need for housing, all across Europe, health services are on their knees, there is a war in Ukraine, leading to ever more calls on money. If you have a million Euros, you can only spend it once?

                                                #98691 Reply

                                                  “Voters have come to a realization that they can’t afford Net Zero”

                                                  What? They’ve decided to let their kids and grandkids pay the price, with their lives if necessary? To let people in more vulnerable countries pay the price?

                                                  “If you have a million Euros, you can only spend it once?”

                                                  That applies to people and households, not governments. Governments can and do just tax it back. Or they can just effectively confiscate stuff, like the WWII War Cabinet just commandeered UK industry for the war effort.

                                                  Fighting fascism was never economically viable; far too expensive, don’t know why they bothered. My dad was posted to Burma and his brother died of dysentery in India. Should have just let the fascists win, invited them in; we’d have coped, eh?

                                                  #98699 Reply
                                                  michael norton

                                                    Clark, there is Democracy at work. At least once every five years the so called leaders have to take account of what the voters say. The voters do not want war in Ukraine against Russia, they do not want conscription but that is apparently what Macron has been calling for. It would seem that the Conservatives in the U.k. are also calling for Net Zero and conscription and war with Russia, we have yet to see how that plays out.
                                                    The governments of several European Nations have recently fallen.
                                                    France is going to change, Germany is collapsing, in part because of Net Zero, in part because of no longer using cheap Methane from Russia.
                                                    If you can’t afford to live anywhere or pay for food, when the once every five years vote comes around, you probably call for change.
                                                    That is what is happening. I doubt most people want the planet ruined for their grandchildren, but they need to live today. Governments are mostly useless.

                                                    #98761 Reply
                                                    michael norton

                                                      There are a lot of problems, for the World to get to Net Zero. If you want roads, they are made using steel, concrete and Tarmac, all these processes release CO2 back into the atmosphere, same with multistorey car parks.
                                                      If you want industrial fertilizer, you will find the feedstock is Methane. If you want plastics the feedstock is Oil or Methane. If you want building blocks, that is produced as a waste product from Coal fired power stations.
                                                      If you want Lithium Ion batteries, you need to excavate monstrous holes in the ground for twenty different minerals, this uses a lot of fresh water, a lot of Methane and a lot of Oil. If we are all to stop using gas for our cooking and heating, if we are to shut down the North Sea Gas wells, who will pay to decommission the Gas Wells, who will pay to take the huge gas industry apart and scrap the infrastructure, it will take thirty years, even if it could be paid for. Where will the four of five times quantity of electricity come from?
                                                      At the moment about 80% of the Worlds electricity derives from fossil fuels. So, the renewable Industries need to step up five times. This will require phenominal quantities of minerals, where will all these minerals come from?
                                                      Will they be won from the Earth, without releasing Carbon? This problem is almost to big to deliver, even if it could be financed.
                                                      Most Western countries, already have an unsubstainable level of dept. Some have a dept of two or three times their current GDP.
                                                      This money, can never be paid back – ever.
                                                      Then you come to Democracy. Apparently, we are involved in the Ukraine War, because we believe in Democracy.
                                                      What if the masses, do not think Net Zero is economically sustainable, do we just tell them to shut up?
                                                      Do the Elite railroad through the legislation, irrespective of their electorates?

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