Loyal reader Mack writes:
Dear Lance,Why isn't there a metal shortage? Of course we all hear about oil shortages, water shortages, and melting polar ice caps, but why isn't there a metal shortage? Look at all the things that are made of metal. It's astonishing: cars, for starters. Also, guardrails on the cars' roads. Not to mention the rebar in the Jersey barriers. Buildings have lots of metal in them -- the frames, as well as the outer shells in many cases. The elevators inside those buildings ride on metal guiderails, and they are pulled up and down by steel cables. Elevator doors are, in most cases, also metal. The button panels inside the elevator cars are metal. Your toaster is metal. As are most of your appliances (well, I have a plastic coffee maker, and a plastic blender, but they have metal parts in them). Metal comes from ore. It has to be mined. Someone is doing the mining, and they have to do down deep into the earth to do it. How can there possibly be this much metal in the earth? Why isn't there a metal shortage?
Some of you may remember. I used to know everything. I was like Dan Aykroyd's caricature of Jimmy Carter. I could tell you how to repair your computer, talk you down from an acid trip, or walk into a nuclear reactor in meltdown and fix it. I could have told Mack what he wants to know.
I'm not so smart anymore.
I don't know the answer to Mack's question. If any of you do, please deposit your answer in the comments section. Mack's got a 7 year old son who is prone to asking him probing questions about the acrane and esoteric workings of the world and Mack needs ammunition. He thanks you for your support.