Journal: The Looming Rare Earths Train Wreck

02 China, 03 Economy, 03 Environmental Degradation, 05 Energy, Budgets & Funding, Collective Intelligence, Commerce, Commercial Intelligence, Corporations, Corruption, Cultural Intelligence, Earth Intelligence, Government, Intelligence (government), Money, Banks & Concentrated Wealth, Politics of Science & Science of Politics, Power Behind-the-Scenes/Special Interests
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Does a Green Speed Bump Block the Road to Energy Independence?????? In this remarkable and remarkably unwelcome opinion piece, my good friend Robert Bryce, author of Power Hungry, explains why the subsidization of green technologies that are dependent on rare earth elements should not be justified as pathway toward energy independence, and in fact, could actually make the US more dependent on foreign energy related imports.

Chuck Spinney

October 29, 2010

The Looming Rare Earths Train Wreck

By Robert Bryce

Real Clear Science

During her trip to China this week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will talk to Chinese officials about the world’s hottest commodities: rare earth elements.

Over the past few months, industry and government officials in the U.S. and Japan have been increasingly alarmed as China, which has a near-monopoly on rare earths, has reduced its exports of those elements by some 40 percent.  Adding yet more anxiety to the situation are projections about a possible shortfall in the supply of these elements. London-based Roskill Consulting Group, a research firm that specializes in metals and minerals, recently predicted that demand for rare earths could outstrip supply as soon as 2014.  Rare earths are important because they have special features at the quantum mechanics level that allow them to have unique magnetic interactions with other elements. A myriad of “green” technologies —  from electric and hybrid-electric cars to wind turbines and compact fluorescent light bulbs – depend on rare earths. And there are no cost-effective substitutes for them.

Clinton’s willingness to question China about rare earths is indicative of just how seriously the U.S. is taking the rare earths issue. But it also underscores a fundamental miscalculation by the U.S. and other countries when it comes the reconfiguration of their automotive fleets.

Over the last few years, a growing number of environmentalists and national security hawks have teamed up to denounce America’s dependence on foreign oil. Their solution: all-electric and hybrid-electric vehicles. Those vehicles, they insist, will help the environment while reducing oil imports from countries in the Persian Gulf and elsewhere.

While that vision appeals to certain segments of the political class and to a myriad of subsidy-seeking corporations, the push to build more electric and hybrid cars will simply result in the U.S. trading one type of import dependence for another.

Those vehicles might cut oil consumption but they will dramatically increase America’s thirst for rare earth elements. And therein lies a crucial choice: We can continue to rely on the liquidity, price transparency, and diversity of the global oil market, the biggest market in human history. Or we can choose the “green” route. And in doing so, we will have no choice but to rely on the market for lanthanides, which is rife with smuggling, has no price transparency, and depends almost wholly on a single producer, China.

The Chinese control about 95 percent of the global market in rare earths, a group of 17 elements that includes scandium, yttrium, and the 15 lanthanides, the elements that occupy the second-to-last row of the Periodic Table. The most famous of the lanthanides is probably neodymium, a critical ingredient in the high-strength magnets used in motor-generators in hybrid cars and wind turbines.

Read rest of article….

Phi Beta Iota: This is a perfect example of what happens when a government is both ideologically driven and therefore not intelligence-driven, and when a government lacks a strategic analytic model that can clearly demonstrate how what might be good for one part of the system is bad for other parts of the system.  This is called system INTEGRITY.  Not only is the US bankrupt, according to the last Comptroller General to brief Congress on the subject in 2007, David Walker, but what the US government is borrowing and spending on in our name makes no sense at all from a public interest point of view.

Reference: Obama, Populism, and 2012

03 Economy, 04 Education, 11 Society, Civil Society, Collective Intelligence, Commerce, Commercial Intelligence, Corruption, Cultural Intelligence, Government

Lawrence Goodwyn: The Great Predicament Facing Obama

An interview with legendary historian Lawrence Goodwyn on Obama, the larger currents in our political life, and the possibility of a rebirth in our democratic culture.

October 30, 2010

What happened to the dream of Barack Obama’s transformational politics? There’s been very little deviation from the disastrous Bush years on the key issues of war, empire and the distribution of wealth in the country.

I turned to Lawrence Goodwyn, historian of social movements whose books and methods of explaining history have had a profound influence on many of the best known authors, activists and social theorists of our time. Goodwyn’s account of the Populist movement, Democratic Promise, is quoted extensively by Howard Zinn in People’s History of the United States, and also in William Greider’s masterpiece on the Federal Reserve, Secrets of the Temple. You can find Goodwyn quoted in the first paragraph of Bill Moyers’ recent book, On Democracy, and cited in just the same way in countless other books and essays.

I interviewed Goodwyn from his home in Durham, North Carolina about the pitfalls of recording American history, Obama’s presidency in light of previous presidents, and portents of change in our political culture.

Read Full Long Interview Online….

Contributor John Steiner says:

This is a remarkable, long, worth reading every word interview, in which Goodwyn compares Obama favorably with Lincoln and recounts the history of the financial elites in America. His concluding sentences: ³Strap on your
seat belts, Jan (Frel). The election in 2012 is going to define the meaning of the American idea.

Phi Beta Iota: There are two major flaws with this Democratic Party love-fest: 1) the Democrats are just as corrupt as the Republicans, just more inept; and 2) Obama will not get a second term because he sold out–anyone who had Rahm Emanuel as his “enforcer” and that still has Axelrod as his advisor,while also installing a Goldman Sachs lobbyist as “national security advisor,” is part of the existing system, not its antithesis.  Independents and Electoral Reform (13 Steps) will produce the outcome Goodwyn posits, not Obama and not the Democratic Party.

See Also:

Worth a Look: Book Review Lists (Positive)

Worth a Look: Book Review Lists (Negative)

Journal: It Takes a Comic (or Two)…to Rebuild a Nation

Civil Society, Collective Intelligence

Thousands to Voice Frustrations at Stewart and Colbert Rally

Those Planning to Attend Fed Up By American Politics, Want to Laugh


ABC News Oct. 28, 2010

From across the country – and Canada – thousands of supporters are expected in Washington to attend Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert’s “Rally to Restore Sanity” and “March to Keep Fear Alive” this Saturday.

More than 220,000 people have RVSP’d that they are attending on the event’s official Facebook page. The National Park Service application, however, only estimated 25,000 people would attend the event, which is scheduled to last from noon to 3 p.m.

The rally is billed as a chance for people to voice their frustrations with American politics and the media, and, of course, be entertained.

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“I don’t think people are going to the rally because they are liberal or conservative,” Wilford said. “It’s not about political ideology, but about the way politics are being sold.”

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“Coming from an outsider, it sounds like Americans are constantly being told to be afraid, but they aren’t being told what to be afraid of. Despite the fact that Jon Stewart is a TV host and the rally is based on a platform on comedy, I feel that Jon Stewart has more to say about politics than any pundit.”

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“I personally have been frustrated with what I view as a lot of hypocrisy in politics,” Miko Wilford, a 24-year-old psychology graduate student from Iowa State University said. “I feel ‘The Daily Show’ and the ‘Colbert Report‘ do a good job of pointing out the hypocrisies.”

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“I think it’s time we restored truth and civility in this country. Our politicians need to acknowledge that this generation is beyond right-left categories.”

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“The rally appeals to me because I agree with the underlying premise, that the tiny percentage of people screaming at each other on television should not be the only voices we’re paying attention to,” said Alexis Sigger, a 32-year-old television producer who is coming from Brooklyn for the rally.

See full (three screen) article….