I have always thought that each region in the world should be mostly self-sufficient. Again a few benefit from unregulated globalization, but most of us don’t. I remember the rare-earths being a part of the periodic table that we did not bother with when I learned chemistry, but now they have become crucial substances. Forget oil. While people were distracted with peak oil and CO2, rare-earths sneaked in. They are not as rare as the group name suggests but we need better ways of extracting the metals both to reduce energy use in the process and to reduce the environmental mess the process has traditionally caused. Maybe there is scope for genetic engineering of bacteria to do the extraction for us.
The “good” news: Precious metals that could save the planet.
The “bad” news: Concern as China clamps down on rare earth exports.
The good news: New solar-cell efficiency record set. The opening fact sets the scene: we need only a little more than 0.01% of the energy the earth receives from the sun to cover all current energy needs. I will keep arguing for solar power.