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The fundamental problem is that desire is infinite and the universe is not.

We’re used to the idea of habitats being destroyed and living things being hunted to extinction, but here’s a mineral, sphalerite, our main source of zinc.

We have plenty of time. Current reserves will last us another 30 or 40 years.

Of course it’s not going to just disappear. It’ll become more and more difficult to get.

Everything has a cost.

Our choice is whether to manage consumption by gentle wisdom or market force.

sphalerite (still)

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Nina permalink
    21/07/2009 2:07 pm

    No particular philosophical point to this, but:

    Under what form do we consume this stuff? It looks like a rock.

  2. David Gelsthorpe permalink*
    22/07/2009 8:49 am

    Hello Nina,

    This is a fair point. It is easy to think, that none of us use zinc so why should we care?

    Zinc is used with copper to make brass, it is used as a coating to stop iron and steel going rusty and is a really important part of people’s diets. If you suffer from zinc defiency (as 800,000 children worldwide do) you suffer from growth retardation, delayed sexual maturation, infection susceptibility, and diarrhea.

    There is more information at:

    David Gelsthorpe,

    Curator of Palaeontology, The Mnachester Museum

  3. Bodger permalink
    22/07/2009 10:23 am

    “Our choice is whether to manage consumption by gentle wisdom or market force.”

    Or develop alternatives?

    Maybe alchemists will eventually be needed to transmute gold into zinc.

  4. Dave permalink
    22/07/2009 12:17 pm

    Hello Ansuman,

    I thought I would write something about this little specimen and how it came to be in the museum. It was collected in the 1990s by my friend David McCallum at an abandoned lead mine in the Yorkshire Dales. To get to the site you wade half a mile through chest deep water in an mine level and then climb into the vein workings where the ‘Old Men’ dug the ore. David picked this specimen out of a crystal-lined cavity… he was very excited to get it. For a time it became part of his fine, meticulously labelled mineral collection. I know David well and what he enjoys most is the process of collecting. So occasionally his collection becomes ‘too large’. When we were redeveloping the museum in the late 1990s I asked if there was anything he could spare. This specimen is one of many we now have in museum collection. He was delighted that it would go to a good home where it would be both safe and accessible!


  5. 30/07/2009 2:10 pm

    I don’t believe any charity org’ of which the
    chairman lives in big mansion and driving big car.
    Or Green something etc the member drinking
    bottled water while preaching big mouth.

    I’m paying £40~£50 electricity bill for quarter
    for one bed flat. Throwing one Tesco bag full
    rubbish per week and virtually no recyclable
    rubbish, since buying no bottled, caned drink.
    Yet, I’m not such ignorant to believe, I’m doing
    anything good to save the planet.
    Its too late.

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