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By Matthew Lasley
For Metal Tech News 

Silver lining of the COVID-19 pandemic

May lead us to bluer skies and greener energy in the future Metal Tech News Weekly Edition – May 13, 2020

 
Series: COVID-19 | Story 13

Last updated 6/27/2020 at 6:03am

Since the COVID-19 lockdown, Los Angeles has recorded the longest stretch of clean air since the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency kept track of air quality in 1980.

Over the last couple of months, as the world has gone into lockdown in an effort to save lives during the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen a few amazing things. First, we have seen the resilience of nature. Secondly, if you live in a metropolitan area, you are probably seeing truly blue sky over your city for the first in a very long time.

NASA photographs as well as those on social media have shown how prevalent air pollution is over our metropolitan communities and how it has drastically changed during this pandemic. When I visited Los Angeles a couple of summers ago, I tried to take pictures of the Hollywood sign from downtown L.A. and it was fuzzy. Pictures from a few weeks into the lockdown and the Hollywood sign stood out clearly from twice as far away.

I believe that the silver lining of this pandemic will be that people will see the value of green, renewable energies. It won't simply be something that happens over there or in the future, but the demand for it in the present will grow. People have seen the true impact of pollution and the outcry will likely spur on green energy.

You can't grow green energy, it is already produced through solar, thermal, wind and hydrological processes that must be harnessed. And as the old adage goes, if you can't grow it, you have to mine it.

No matter how we want to harness green energy, the mineral and metal industries play a big part of it. From the copper for wiring to lithium for batteries. From gold and silver for conductors and connectors to rare earth magnets for super conductivity. From titanium and graphene for lightweight structures and solar cells to cobalt used to make permanent magnets in wind turbines. The mining industry will pave the future of green energy.

We have had the technology and means to create green energy, but we haven't wanted to pay for it. Slowly we have become jaded to how bad things have gotten. Again, it was something that happens over there and not here. Or, it was only bad when the wind blows a certain way.

But people have seen that it isn't just over there or the wind. And the technology has seen major advances in the last decade alone not only in efficiency, but cost. As more people move to green energy, the demand on the necessary resources will drive not only green energy, but advances in the ways that we gather these strategic resources.

The main obstacle standing in the way of the advancement of green energy is not the companies that produce it or the mines that harvest the resources, but the everyday person. Will they once again become jaded to their environment? Will they be willing to pay for the green energy?

It is an exciting time to see how the industry will react and how other areas of science, technology and exploration will advance because we have seen a truly blue sky once again.

 

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