14 Nov '11, 11pm

It's Time to Prepare for CleanTech's Rare Earth Problem

This isn't exactly a new issue to the green movement, but it's an under-examined one nonetheless: Rare earths like neodymium are integral to a number of cleantech innovations that are changing the way that we produce energy, drive, and so on. But they're also, well, rare. This Mother Jones report does a good job of giving an overview of how their scarcity presents a number of problems to revving the clean energy economy up to full speed. Read the whole thing, but here are the bullet points: -First, as of now, China produces almost all of the world's rare earth metals. But as its own domestic industry has boomed, it has kept more and more to itself, and costs have spiked as a result. -Second, mining for rare earths is tricky, and dangerous. It has been known to create dreadful contamination -- rare earths, as MoJo reports,"occur naturally with the radioactive elements thori...

Full article: http://www.treehugger.com/clean-technology/its-time-prepa...

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