99 Dead Balloons
As we burn through our natural resources with gay abandon, all humans (analytical scientists included) must consider the impact of non-sustainable activities and prepare to make changes. Helium is just the latest in a long line of elemental casualties.
Rich Whitworth |
Shortage of natural resources is sadly not a new phenomenon. As we continue down our path of development (a word disputed by sustainability-minded individuals), increasing demand fast outstrips supply. Continually rising oil prices are an obvious testament to that fact. Likewise, the precious metals used in the technology sector have followed a similar trend, and recycling – of computers, mobile phones, and other gadgets – has found new favor given the small but valuable amounts of gold, iridium, and silver that can be “mined”, often by enterprising Asian companies. According to a 2008 study by Japanese recycling firm Yokohama Metal Co Ltd., a tonne of gold mine ore yields 5 grams of gold on average – small fry compared with the 150 gram yield from a tonne of discarded mobile phones (1). No wonder electronics firms are keen to offer free recycling services so readily…
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