Thursday, March 05, 2009

What happens when the United States ...

... finds itself without any natural resources that are needed in a world economy? For example, a majority of the lithium needed for lithium batteries for electric cars can be found in Bolivia. In addition, Bolivia has wizened up and wants to use their resources to generate jobs (and profits) within their own country.
For Bolivians, economic development and job creation are a must — the partner can't be like foreign companies who they say shortchanged the nation's hardscrabble Indians while extracting copper, silver and tin from vegetation-starved highlands. Morales wants lithium batteries manufactured domestically, and even hopes to assemble battery-powered cars.
So, where does this leave the United States, who was hoping to factor in the environmentally-friendly car economy of the future? Exactly what natural resources does the United States have which can ensure that it remains a "power" in the future? Also, and I think more importantly, this points the focus towards recycling efforts. There are finite supplies of materials such as lithium in the world, so recycling them will be essential in the future. Since we are a consumer economy, the influx of these resources will be into the United States. Recycling ensures that they will remain here, and if they remain here we do not need to import (and thereby pay another country for the "rights" to these materials). Right?

I'm sure there are some flaws, or unnecessary worrying on my part, here ... so if someone can point them out I'd be appreciative.


Cath@VWXYNot? said...

"Exactly what natural resources does the United States have which can ensure that it remains a "power" in the future?"

Fresh water? This will become an increasingly precious resource, the Pentagon say that the wars being fought over oil today will be fought over water in the future. Some of us up here in Canada are just hoping your army is good to us when they eventually invade looking for water ;)

Tom said...

Yes, definitely need to put water on the list. Heck, there are states in the process of suing each other over water rights from rivers which cross the state borders. I hope however that in the near future (less than a decade at least) we get some good (and inexpensive) desalination technology so that water isn't as scarce a commodity as it is turning out to be.

Good one to put on the list, and keep an eye on.

Philip H. said...

good question. I suppose it comes down to hw we define "natural" resources. We can, as a nation, produce enough farmed grain products to meet our domestic needs somthing like 5 or 6 times over. SO we pay farmers not to farm (one of those agricultural subsidies I wich would die). But that grain isn't technically a "natural" resource.

In terms of electricity generation, we do have some of the strongest wind and solar feilds of any country in the world. Tappign them efficiently will continue to be an issue without a beter electric grid. But I digress.