I am currently a student attending Penn State University. While taking a geography course on sustainability and human-environment systems, I spoke a lot about where I am from and what life is like at home in Saint Albans.
Within a project that I was working on with a few of my classmates, we chose to do research in developing technology that does not require as much or any of the rare earth minerals that are predominantly controlled by China. China has control over about 95 percent of the world’s rare earth minerals. Having this much control, China is able to control the price of things that mean a lot to us, such as cars and cell phones. For example, dysprosium is a rare-earth mineral from which car batteries are made. Something simple as the raising cost of manufacturing a car battery could really harm the economy more than it already is.
Despite the name “rare earth,” these materials are actually quite abundant. The issues lie in things like the control over those minerals, not being able to manufacture certain technologies in the United States due to not having direct access to the minerals, and the cost of transporting the already manufactured technology over to the United States. The transportation process alone is detrimental to our environment as it makes our already deep carbon footprints even deeper.
Before there can be collective action there must be individual action. We should want to be able to sustain our environment for as long as we can. It is possible to achieve desirable sustainability and protect the environment for future generations without depriving ourselves of nature’s nutrients and life’s experiences. If community members could spend a little time finding ways to improve on sustainability and find better means of producing the products we love to rely on, we will be that much closer to achieving desirable sustainability.