The guys over at the Freakonomics blog have an interesting
point about electric cars. I guess every advantage has it’s disadvantages:
One argument I’ve heard is “national security,” the idea being that electric vehicles would make the United States less dependent on imported oil. Be careful what you wish for, however, because if electric cars become a mainstay, we may be trading one dependence for another that is even more troubling. Ninety-five percent of the world’s output of rare-earth metals today comes from one country: China. By some estimates, demand will outstrip supply within five years. At least with oil we know there are fifty years of oil reserves readily available. Moreover, oil is produced all over the world, limiting the monopoly power of any one country.
It is quite possible that scientists will figure out alternatives that lessen the need for rare-earth metals. If not, add the words dysprosium, praseodymium, and terbium to your vocabulary, because you will be hearing a lot about these elements in the future, and the news is not likely to be good.