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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - October 9, 1973, Lethbridge, Alberta Barrel scraping or horn of plenty By Max Wilde, London Observer commentator GENEVA Sharp con- troversy has broken out among scientists about the rate at which the world is con- suming mineral resources. One side says metals such as copper, aluminium and iron will have to be rationed and then gradually withdrawn BERRY'S WORLD Iw'l lol Irom use. with a crisis point being reached at the end of this century. Other experts, some of them working for the United Nations, maintain that there is no shortage in sight. John Carman, a UN technical adviser, has declared that "not only are "My guess is that you're against the use of auto- mobiles, because of how they pollute, so I won't give you a lift and let you compromise your princi- CONTINUING WHILE STOCKS LAST! mineral resources far from being depleted, they renew themselves at least in part all the time. The oceans can be likened to giant chemical cauldrons constantly precipitating minerals which accumulate in the form of deep sea nodules. They con- stitute a rich and so far unex- ploited reservoir of mineral wealth In addition, says Mr Car- man, the whole crust of the earth which can be exploited to a depth of several miles, is believed to be extraordinarily rich in mineral deposits of all types. One cubic mile of rock is estimated to contain some tons of copper, close to 900.000 tons of nickel, almost 1.000 million tons of aluminium, and other ores in similar quantities But the greatest faith is in mineral resources of the sea One expert has estimated that the Pacific Ocean nodules contain enough copper, nickel and titanium to meet, for ex- ample. America's consump- tion need for thousands of years ahead The opposite view is argued by Amory B. Lovins. an American consultant of "Friends of the Earth He says metallic ores now being rapidlv depleted were formed bv rare geological accidents in the remote past and are be- ing replenished far more slow- ly than they are being ex- tracted Most metals ex- cluding the common struc- tural metals such as iron, aluminium, magnesium and titanium, are from 100 to 10.- 000 times more concentrated in the ores now being mined than in average rock. He claims that for many metals the gap in grade between modern ores and plain rock is abrupt and not filled by significant amounts of progressively poorer deposits. And so. once the high-grade deposits are ex- hausted for many metals at present trends in a matter of decades, for other's nearer a century or two we shall have to mine barren rock at a thousand 'times the present energy cost'of mining copper. "So that Cornucopian Car- man's cubic-nule-of-rock Utopia is just not on." Mr. Lovins concedes that further considerable ore deposits are likely to be found, if only because mining com- panies are devoting a substan- tial and rising fraction of their income to exploration. But new discoveries (he warns) can usually buy only a few decades' grace, not a passport to plenty "II the use of an average metal doubles every fourteen years as is approx- imately the case then doubling world reserves of that metal will buy 14 years." Oil and gas are a good case in point- the longer new dis- coveries can hold down prices, the faster the onset of eventual scarcity and the fewer the options then remaining. Indeed, some countries, such as Kuwait, have already realized that (heir mineral assets will appreciate fastest in the ground without storage Everything nperi to mdkp n on vour own me ludini' ideas' Ciltone Alkyd pemi-Gioss %ior Beaver's Great Cross Canada Sale continues- this week with super savings on Home Improve- ment products to help you get ready for a more pleasant Winter by decorating and weather- proofing now! PAINTS CILTONE INTERIOR ..SEMI-GLOSS OIL BASE to leave a hard, mar resistant that will withstand repeated washings. y Wide range of beautiful colors 101" 2.88 QT. Ciltone CILTONE INTERIOR SATIN LATEX OFF ALL CIL EXTERIOR PAINTS The quick -drying, easy-to-brush or roll on formula Good range of colors Clean equip ment with soap and water Brand New' CELLULOSE POLYFILLA Just iidd w.ilcr Icitdl (01 tilling crjck> ho. us MI or lurnitii'C nol bhrink 2 ib. pkg. 73how its assumptions to be lalse or tend to support the general thesis. In this case the authors un- derstandably hnd some grim vindication in events. The group has moved to Dart- mouth College, and there Prof Dennis Meadows said the other day "II I had stood up in March. .IMU IMflL IWO years we would see beef on the black market in this countrv and retail food prices up 20 per cent or more, and families going cold for lack of heating oil I d have got very long odds But things have happened and they will continue happening The real thrust ol the Meadows report was political It argued that ticceleiatmc growth posed a new kind of challenge to human society to stabilize population and production at .sustainable levels that would mm WORLD permit a decent existence on a world basis In terms of meeting that challenge, the recoid ol the last two years i.s discouraging The Nixon administration lias leaded to the signs ol resource pressure with an al- titude ol business as usual or moie so Is lumber short'' Plunder the national forests A thiealened oil crisis'' Build an Alaska pipeline and in- crease oil shore drilling. Food prices i ismg'' Put an embargo on exports It is all too frightening close to (he danger that The ol Growth" foresaw plowing destruction of the en- v ironment and national scrambling lor scarce resources Nor is the record encouraging elsewhere in the world As the solution lo their problems, politicians continue to give the same answer More Consider, lor example, the energy problem can see that the United States is profligate in its use of oil and electricity Our lirst necessity is .serious measures ol conservation How can we crv shortage while we build absurdly over- powered cars and encourage energy-intensive industry'' But the government pays onlv lip-service to conservation, planning instead to develop new energy sources at enor- mous cost Or think about food If the world is dependent on exports, as it is. we shall have to limit our own consumption to meet the de- mand or else let millions starve How would we limit our consumption'' Let domestic prices rise? But then our own poor suffer Rationing0 Subsidized dis- tribution'' And to which needy ioi s do we seii oui gram9 And how will they The dilemmas are terrifying The scientific particulars of "The Limits of Growth" re- main beyond the under- standing of most of us But even critics are beginning to that the book poses valid and urgent questions. Can our world, with all its divisions of nation and in- terest, deal with the visible strains of physical growth? We await a political leader who will begin to make us face the problems -Since food is so expensive, why don't we skip all this and iust have ;