national security

National Security and productivity depend on access to minerals

Hal Quinn, president of the National Mining Association, points out in an editorial in The Hill that “The U.S. Department of Defense uses 750,000 tons of minerals each year in technologies that protect the very troops that protect our nation. Metals such as copper, lead and nickel are used in military gear, weapon systems and other defense technologies. Additionally, the mineral beryllium is used to reduce weight and improve guidance performance in fighter jets and NASA technologies such as the mirrors on the James Webb Space Telescope. But despite the strategic importance of minerals and metals to our national security, the United States ranks behind China, Russia, Chile and South Africa in terms of production. Furthermore, we remain completely import-dependent for 19 key minerals resources and more than 50 percent import-dependent for an additional 24 mineral commodities, which subjects supply chains to geopolitical instability and supply disruption.”

The US is blessed with abundant mineral resources but politics are, in many cases blocking to delaying productive use of those resources.

Quinn laments that “duplicative, inefficient permitting process wraps our domestic mineral development in endless red tape, stifling investment in new and existing mines in the United States.” Much of this delay is due to lawsuits by radical environmentalists. In the US, mining permits can take upwards of seven to 10 years, compared with countries such as Canada and Australia, whose modern minerals policies enable them to complete the process in two to three years, giving them a decided advantage over the United States.

The National Strategic and Critical Minerals Production Act of 2015 introduced in the House of Representatives and the American Mineral Security Act of 2015 introduced in the Senate aim to remedy the situation and “modernize the current U.S. mining permitting process and allow for access to the trillions of dollars worth of resources we have here at home.”

These bills deserve bipartisan support.

See also:

How NEPA crushes productivity

Mining and the bureaucracy

Silver: The Versatile Metal Powering American Innovation

Here is a new infographic from the National Mining Association.  It shows the many uses of silver.  Six states, Alaska, Texas, Colorado, Montana, Idaho, and Nevada mine most of US silver.  Below the graphic are links to other NMA infographics, all of which can be used as teaching resources in the classroom.



Other NMA Inforgraphics:

Gold in modern life

Importance of Copper

Importance of domestic mining to manufacturing

Iron – critical to nearly every industry

Minerals vital to modern life – a short video

Platinum group metals fight pollution and cancer

Potash and Phosphate help feed the world

How we use rare earth elements

Zinc the building block of summer fun

Do Violence and temperature rise together?

Last Saturday, the Arizona Daily Star ran a story about some research which claims that global warming will cause increased violence. As usual with stories of this type, the Star goes with the scary headline but fails to get the rest of the story.

The study in question is “Quantifying the Influence of Climate on Human Conflict” by Hsiang et al. The abstract reads:

“A rapidly growing body of research examines whether human conflict can be affected by climatic changes. Drawing from archaeology, criminology, economics, geography, history, political science, and psychology, we assemble and analyze the 60 most rigorous quantitative studies and document, for the first time, a remarkable convergence of results. We find strong causal evidence linking climatic events to human conflict across a range of spatial and temporal scales and across all major regions of the world. The magnitude of climate’s influence is substantial: for each 1 standard deviation (1s) change in climate toward warmer temperatures or more extreme rainfall, median estimates indicate that the frequency of interpersonal violence rises 4% and the frequency of intergroup conflict rises 14%. Because locations throughout the inhabited world are expected to warm 2 to 4s by 2050, amplified rates of human conflict could represent a large and critical impact of anthropogenic climate change.”

Pierre Gosselin, proprietor of the blog “NoTricksZone” reports on critiques of the research.  Pierre is an American citizen living in Germany who provides translations of European happenings.  He is a graduate of the University of Arizona.

A more complete story of the research ran in the German paper der Spiegel and Gosselin notes “The Hsiang study is even too absurd for the leftist Spiegel to swallow.”  So, the Spiegel asked some other experts to assess the research.  They found that the data were cherry-picked:

“Jürgen Scheffran, Professor for Climate Change and Security at the University of Hamburg and his colleagues evaluated 27 studies and found that 16 were statistically significant in showing that global warming increased the probability of violent conflict, but that 11 studies said they could actually have the opposite effect, i.e. decrease the likelihood of violent conflict. Eight of these papers were not even considered by Hsiang and his colleagues, Scheffran says.”

Oslo economist Halvard Buhaug said, that Hsiang used only the strongest data that supported their thesis while ignoring the rest.

Jochem Marotzke, Director of the Max-Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg pointed out that Hsiang et al. failed to consider alternative hypotheses.

Richard Tol of the University of Sussex pointed out that Hsiang et al. actually evaluated studies that had to do with weather phenomena, not climate.

See Gosselin’s full post here.

A long article in the British Journal of Criminology by Ellen O. Cohn concludes that some crimes do increase with temperature up to about 85  F, then decline:

“A few firm conclusions can be drawn from the research conducted to date on the relationship between weather and crime. It appears that assaults, burglary, collective violence, domestic violence, and rape tend to increase with ambient temperature, at least up to about 85°F. The relationship between heat and homicide is uncertain. High temperatures do not appear to be correlated with robbery, larceny, and motor vehicle theft.”

Some of these crimes may be influenced by increased alcohol consumption as temperatures rise.  There appears to be no correlation of crime with cold weather or rainfall.

Finally, from ScienceNews we find a report that contradicts Hsiang:

“Some of Eastern Europe’s greatest wars and plagues over the last millennium coincided with cold periods, scientists report online January 14 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences….The Black Death in the mid-14th century, the Thirty Years’ War in the early 17th century, the French invasion of Russia in the early 19th century and other social upheavals occurred during cold spells. The team suggests food shortages could explain the timing of some of these events.”

Now that you know the rest of the story, we see that the Star’s global warming scare is just more junk science.  We can add this to John Brignell’s long list of things allegedly caused by global warming.

For more perspective on this issue see an article in the Daily Caller here.  “There is no consensus in the scholarly or policy communities as to what factors specifically contribute to, much less cause, conflict.”

Statistician William Briggs discusses the statistical malfeasance of the paper here.

“They mixed data from sources as disparate as the MSNBC and Fox News, they compared apples to roller blading, they contrasted black with semiotics. Data from last Tuesday was said to be equal in veracity to that culled from 8000 BC. They dumped into a computer a bunch of numbers lots of people found from all over the place, measuring God knows what, and produced lots of sharp graphics and one big quantitative result that hot, rainy weather is bad for you.”



The importance of minerals to our economy and national security

Without minerals we would not have electricity, food, or shelter. Minerals make today’s technology-based life possible, but that’s something many of us take for granted. We want the benefits from those minerals, but some want mining of minerals to be in somebody else’s neighborhood.

Here in Arizona, which produces about two-thirds of the nations’ domestically mined copper, there is opposition to mining projects such as the Resolution copper/gold mine near Superior, the Rosemont mine near Tucson, Curis Resources’ proposed copper mine  near Florence, uranium miningnorth of the Grand Canyon, and even a small marble depositnear Dragoon.

Let’s step back for a moment and review some benefits and importance of mineral production (data from the National Mining Association, see more detail here).

In 2011, $669 billion worth of processed mineral materials were used by businesses including construction, manufacturing and agriculture to add more than $2.2 trillion to the U.S. economy. Minerals were put to use in lifesaving medical devices, our nation’s infrastructure, defense technologies, and the computers and communications systems that connect us to the world. In Arizona, the value of mineral production is about $8.25 billion.

Though America has abundant mineral resources, our ability to secure these critical materials amid rising global competition is threatened by an outdated permitting process and regulations that delay mining projects for years, in some cases, up to a decade or more.

U.S. minerals mining supports more than 1.2 million jobs. A job in U.S. metal ore mining is one of the highest paying in the private sector, with an average salary of $85,504 a year (2011 average salary) and often climbing above $100,000 for experienced workers.

Our increasingly technological society needs as many as 60 different minerals or their constituent elements that are used in fabricating the high-speed, high-capacity integrated circuits that are crucial to this technology.

Though U.S. mines play an important role in meeting domestic demand for many minerals, American industries currently rely on foreign suppliers for more than half the minerals they use, a substantial increase from 30 years ago. Our growing dependence on imports leaves us vulnerable to supply scarcity brought on by high demand and disruptions in the supply chain. For instance, the U.S. relies on China for 79 percent of rare earth minerals.

The U.S. Department of Defense uses nearly three-quarters of a million tons of minerals every year in the technologies that protect our nation. But with our growing reliance on imports for an ever-widening range of minerals, the United States is now at greater risk of facing supply disruptions.

U.S. mineral production paid more than $16.5 billion in federal taxes and $10.5 billion in state and local taxes in 2010. Although mining operations disturb the local scenery, over 2.6 million acres have been reclaimed and restored in the past 30 years.

Minerals make our standard of living possible. To ensure that standard, we must make certain regulations are consistently guided by sound science and economic reality rather than political agendas.

For those of you who are against mining, I invite you to think of all you would have to give up without it.