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Mac MacGillicuddy

I await all input. Mack


I often wondered when the Earth would collapse since we were taking all of the metal and rock out of it and putting it on top of it... If you take a box of books and one by one take a book out and put it on top, won't the box eventually collapse since you have removed all inside support? Or maybe the Earth is made of Rubbermaid...


Greetings from Europe:

You´re a real nutter!


I think there are probably two angles to the question - one is that the earth isn't exactly short of iron, the source of the metal in most of the objects you describe, Mack. There is a lot of it out there, available cheaply enough that we can let it rust in first-world dumps and used car lots across the nation. The molten core of the earth, if I remember correctly, is iron. So most of the metal we use - iron and steel (derived from iron) - is not scarce at all.

Now, things like gold and copper are less common, but, again, I don't think we're in a crisis point yet, but rather one in which the economic scarcity of these metals is driving up their price.

It's also not like metal gets used up in the process of refining it, the way oil gets used up when we burn it, and it can often be melted and re-shaped into something new. As I said, it ends up in dumps when we're done with it; and in many countries that's just the beginning of its new life as another object.

The other is that I'm not convinced we're using as much metal you might think - stone, brick, cement, and our lovely petrochemical friend plastic make up much of the difference. Compare a stereo of today with one from thirty years ago, for example, or a 1950s car with one of the gas-sipping hybrids available now. My Dyson is almost entirely made of plastic, unlike the metal titan my mother used.

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