We're Running Out of These Elements — Here's How

  • Published: 07 November 2019
  • Phones, TVs, solar panels, and electric car batteries are all made of some rare and unusual elements. As our modern world creates more and more of these technologies, will things go from "rare" to "nonexistent" and what will we do then?

    Hosted by: Michael Aranda

    SciShow has a spinoff podcast! It's called SciShow Tangents. Check it out at scishowtangents.org
    Support SciShow by becoming a patron on Patreon: patreon.com/scishow
    Huge thanks go to the following Patreon supporters for helping us keep SciShow free for everyone forever:

    Eric Jensen, Matt Curls, Sam Buck, Christopher R Boucher, Avi Yashchin, Adam Brainard, Greg, Alex Hackman, Sam Lutfi, D.A. Noe, Piya Shedden, Scott Satovsky Jr, Charles Southerland, Patrick D. Ashmore, charles george, Kevin Bealer, Chris Peters
    Looking for SciShow elsewhere on the internet?
    Facebook: facebook.com/scishow
    Twitter: twitter.com/scishow
    Tumblr: scishow.tumblr.com
    Instagram: instagram.com/thescishow


Comments • 1 698

  • Richard Robertson
    Richard Robertson  15 hours back

    You appear so intelligent at first and most of your information that overlaps my education and training adds to your credibility, then you come out with a suggestion to stop "climate change" and I think, well, the guy may be well read but he fails to make logical occlusions. I stopped watching. Please get past your desire for wealth redistribution . . . that's the ultimate goal of the "climate change" crowd.

    • Anibal Fermaint Gonzalez

      I'm surprised you didn't talk about copper and at least a little bit about glass towards the end.

      • Anibal Fermaint Gonzalez

        The only rare earth metal processing facility in America was closed because it was hard. China keeps doing it. Now we just throw away most batteries in the landfill and only recycle the rechargeable ones.

        • hustler3of4culture3
          hustler3of4culture3  1 days back

          What about extracting from recycled and old phones?

          • João de Carvalho
            João de Carvalho  2 days back

            Asteroid and Moon mining is still decades away, but we will do that. If pollution is inevitable, better to do it on the Moon than here.

            • WormholeJim
              WormholeJim  2 days back

              There's a lot of info in this that doesn't show in the debate. The rare earth elements, for instance, and hw there are people concerned about China "sitting on most of the wold's availabe deposits" when it in reality is because China is the only producer that is willing be subjected to the environmental consequenses. Thanks for uploading this, it helps put nuance and more facets to the ongoing, rather toxic and two-dimensional debate running circles around the human impact on the planet.

              • Roy McLean
                Roy McLean  2 days back

                Climate change will reduce both the sourcing of these rare elements, but the demand as well... the burning question is whether we’ve reached a tech plateau. Lost Atlantis will be joined by Lost Apple...

                • Scarleto
                  Scarleto  2 days back

                  Lowkey surprised we haven't figured out how to synthesize these elements, or that the focus on doing as such hasn't yet shifted from mining them naturally, but maybe that's just me reading too much scifi?

                  • Jaydaks rules
                    Jaydaks rules  2 days back

                    WHAT! lighter spark isnt from magnesium :( whole life has been a lie

                    • sinisterLMN
                      sinisterLMN  3 days back

                      Sounds like a job for (tears open shirt jacket and tie): “Asteroid Farming Man!”

                      • MegaGouch
                        MegaGouch  3 days back

                        So western countries claim they have stop mining some of these dangerous elements, therefor saving the planet.
                        Instead they just import them from countries who don't protect the environment or workers, and that is somehow ok?

                        • Andre Fouche
                          Andre Fouche  3 days back

                          Remember the climate will always change no matter what we do.

                          • Jebediah Clang
                            Jebediah Clang  3 days back

                            Nomophones b!tches. Get used to it.

                            • Eugene InLaw
                              Eugene InLaw  4 days back

                              Get to asteroid mining already!

                              • SPOOKS
                                SPOOKS  4 days back

                                thorium cam hardly be considered radioactive, and both thorium and urainium are incredibly good at making energy.

                                • Cj's Bullshittery
                                  Cj's Bullshittery  4 days back

                                  I really like this guy idk why

                                  • Abby Leonard
                                    Abby Leonard  4 days back

                                    Basically stop using electronics or your killing the planet and causing global warmins

                                    • Karl Tsang
                                      Karl Tsang  5 days back

                                      Guess it's time to turn to the alchemists again.....

                                      • SuperAnime4444
                                        SuperAnime4444  5 days back

                                        This is why I drop electronics at Best Buy's bins instead of throwing them into the garbage.

                                        • psychotikpaisano
                                          psychotikpaisano  6 days back

                                          Hmm. Titanium will spark if struck against another piece of itself

                                          • Al Rats
                                            Al Rats  6 days back

                                            It's criminal that we have constructed a society where the end of life of products are not considered in the design of the product.

                                            • Matthew Weisenburger
                                              Matthew Weisenburger  6 days back

                                              Just another reason to travel to other planets

                                              • Tonechild
                                                Tonechild  6 days back

                                                All of the elements are just made up of electrons and neutrons, so, just grab those and put them together, then you get whatever elements you need. Probably just need a lot of energy, which you can get from nuclear fusion, which by the way probably makes elements too.

                                                • El Asesino
                                                  El Asesino  6 days back

                                                  recycle much

                                                  • spijkerpoes
                                                    spijkerpoes  6 days back

                                                    Why no word on planned obsolescence?
                                                    I'd have no trouble inheriting my parent's laptop if it functioned alright
                                                    Like a voyager space probe

                                                    • ᖇᗩ乙0229
                                                      ᖇᗩ乙0229  7 days back

                                                      Me, an intellectual: _We still have SUN_

                                                      • TRR47
                                                        TRR47  7 days back

                                                        5:28 *shots fired

                                                        • Brynna Wenz
                                                          Brynna Wenz  7 days back

                                                          God I recognize this guy from some old YouTube channel but I can’t place it..

                                                          • Unotch
                                                            Unotch  7 days back

                                                            Seems like a good time to invade the Congo!

                                                            • Chris Pierce
                                                              Chris Pierce  7 days back

                                                              Thanks scishow for depressing me before work..

                                                              • STEPHAN FEIBISH
                                                                STEPHAN FEIBISH  7 days back

                                                                I have shares in many if not most of the companies that mine the elements mentioned. Most are money losing propositions that probably will go bankrupt. Losing money for their original shareholders. Picked up for a song and perhaps profitable for some private equity investors.

                                                                • Steve Mclean
                                                                  Steve Mclean  7 days back

                                                                  When we run out of helium., that is when we all die.

                                                                  • Lorenzo Robles
                                                                    Lorenzo Robles  1 weeks back

                                                                    @7:27 he claims recycling the metals will help stop climate change...you can't stop the climate, brother.

                                                                    • Darmok
                                                                      Darmok  1 weeks back

                                                                      Two words: *asteroid mining*

                                                                      • The One Minds
                                                                        The One Minds  1 weeks back

                                                                        Alchemy is the solution to all the problems listed here

                                                                        • Frukwon 420
                                                                          Frukwon 420  1 weeks back

                                                                          tech companies should pay consumers to recycle their tech

                                                                          • Lakshmi T
                                                                            Lakshmi T  1 weeks back

                                                                            Why are lanthanide series marked two periods up the group?

                                                                            • DEATHWISH -CHRIS
                                                                              DEATHWISH -CHRIS  1 weeks back

                                                                              Totally unrelated but the host looks so much like Chino Moreno singer from the Deftones!

                                                                              Great video, thanks!

                                                                              • Ben Johnson
                                                                                Ben Johnson  1 weeks back

                                                                                Global warming is a con, by the way.

                                                                                • Hans Hoerdemann
                                                                                  Hans Hoerdemann  1 weeks back

                                                                                  What's wrong with his ear lobes?

                                                                                  • Daniel Law
                                                                                    Daniel Law  1 weeks back

                                                                                    I look forward to mining asteroid.

                                                                                    • Harry Helen
                                                                                      Harry Helen  1 weeks back

                                                                                      Damn. This means we can’t make the Death Star. I’m so sad.

                                                                                      • Armando Flores
                                                                                        Armando Flores  1 weeks back

                                                                                        Unlimited universe and we're running out of elements. Smh

                                                                                        • Red Jew
                                                                                          Red Jew  4 days back

                                                                                          The universe is running out because the population is growing and we are using too much resources.

                                                                                      • Rose Gott
                                                                                        Rose Gott  1 weeks back

                                                                                        Thank you, handsome science guy!

                                                                                        • Adam Salazar
                                                                                          Adam Salazar  1 weeks back


                                                                                          • Cole Chapman
                                                                                            Cole Chapman  1 weeks back

                                                                                            Obviously the solution is to print out more elements duh.

                                                                                            • mikitz
                                                                                              mikitz  1 weeks back

                                                                                              I used to mining anti-materia. The mine blew up, once I materialized the proceeds.

                                                                                              • 989533234564
                                                                                                989533234564  1 weeks back

                                                                                                assuming we cant just get them from space in the future once the price is high enough there will be people willing to mine in dangerous conditions to extract the materials even if they try to make doing so illegal, if the price of arsenic was say $200/kg and there were deposits near me with around 1kg of arsenic per ton of ore mined id be right out there with a pick axe and a gas mask id like to think im a decent enough chemist so unless the extraction of the metal requires electrolysis at 2000k ish like with something like sodium or aluminium i could probably do the extraction on a small scale too can't be much worse than working with mercury or lead.