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

Joylandi 6-Noy, 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 www.scishowtangents.org
Support SciShow by becoming a patron on Patreon: www.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: scishow
Twitter: scishow
Tumblr: scishow.tumblr.com
Instagram: thescishow


  • Global warming is a con, by the way.

  • What's wrong with his ear lobes?

  • I look forward to mining asteroid.

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

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

  • Thank you, handsome science guy!

  • Intense.

  • Obviously the solution is to print out more elements duh.

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

  • 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.

  • Metals can be recycled but it's almost impossible to recover helium and that's a huge trouble!

  • China has probably has the most minerals as their prices stay low, in made in China products... Samsung and others are bringing products that cost 1000+ dollar smartphones , which is a joke... But in real life we will run out of things we can't make out of nothing, iron wolf ertz, uranium, oil etc... World should keep hold on what brings us to forward without those minerals and fossils...

  • The future is bleak for your kids

  • Asteroid mining would solve all the problems......

  • Wonder how much of these things are on the moon? Or asteroids

  • I don't think we're going to have to worry about all this electronics and solar panels much longer. Hopefully.

  • Graphene will be the material of the 21 century.

  • Graphene is like really easy to make though

  • Thanos did have a point though.

  • So this is what the Incubus singer is up to these days

  • Good motivation for asteroid mining?

  • Radio Shack had a battery return policy alleged to be recycled but bet they were tossed. Recycling only makes sense in bulk . Car tires still a problem.

  • China owns most of the rare minerals, so war with China then.

  • All that said, recycling is significantly more expensive than mining.

  • Recycling?


  • Good video you've become a way better public speaker since I lasted watched you like maybe 2-3 years ago

  • A big issue with the limited resources we have is also just the fact that producers of gadgets and other products push to sell as much as possible and therefore release a new phone every year instead of waiting a few years and preserving our resources

  • Indium is no longer necessary because of graphene that is now easy and cheap to make

  • solar panels are horrible energy sources

  • China produces the most because they don't deal with the environmental restrictions the rest of the developed world does

  • This is why Industrial civilisation is and will always be unsustainable. As long as we keep thinking technology will save us we are screwed. This delusional idea that we will figure these problems out will become as big of a problem in the future as the global warming deniers are right now. In truth the religion of technology is in many ways a denial of what is truly sustainable... But we will see. we could always discover something amazing any day now right? just have faith?

  • And everybody wonders why the demographic transition in some countries is so much slower than that of other countries... perceiving children as economic assets and things of that nature are just small blips on the big picture. Criticality is one of the main reasons why the demographic transition is slower for these unfortunate portions of the world. It's kind of sad, and there's not much anyone can really do about it.

  • Arsenic is no longer used to pressure treat wood, for many years now. What else is wrong in this video???

  • The MAIN problem is OVER supply. There is demand yes but way too much production more than the phone can be sold.

  • carbon naNOTUUUUUBES!

  • ...or we could mine everything in space and not give up anything, which sounds more like past human behavior to me.

  • We’re also running out of the elements of surprise and originality in the UZtorrent comment section. Every other top liked comment is a meme used a thousand times over

  • were getting to the point were we can mine some of this stuff from space. in short pulling down to earth what we need. tho this is likely a few decades of it likely to happen with in most of ower life times.

  • Somebody might consider buying a landfill for future possibilities of using them as mines.

  • Great info. However, the extreme jump-cut editing is massively annoying. All the presenters sound exactly alike which is also annoying. I would rather see a little personality come through. I can't continue watching this video.

  • Semiconductors and rare metals can be recycled, remember one you a resource it doesn't just simply disappear. Unless it's a fuel that obviously isn't a mere element or doesn't undergo radioactive decay. So to sum it all up we still have plenty of resources the problem being that reusing them isn't very profitable.

  • asteroid mining

  • Elements May becoming scarce on Earth for that is why maybe we should Outsource towards the stars and look at some of the asteroids in the Kuiper belt I'm sure there's a whole bunch of elements out there that we have no idea of and a whole lot of fun that we need so food for thought

  • So Thanos was right all along. Our resources are finite.

  • i think the increase in price will increase the number of places willing to extract it in the end, so it is somewhat self regulating in the short term.

  • Aren't we supposed to run out of gasoline in 1999? Oh wait what

  • Here's my expert opinion which I never bothered sharing before, but will be sharing in the comment section of each science channel's version of this video over the next few weeks.

  • Calls it Indium and then immediately says aluminum... AluminIUM... Can't you morons see that already?!?!?!

  • When I was a kid in early 80s, teachers at school taught us that we were running out of oil. Now look at the world. The world is still full of oil. Obviously those fake teachers had nothing but arrogance to predict the future. What do those scientists know about the future? They do nothing but fear mongering for their own interests.

  • these videos are great thanks for researching

  • You lost me at electric cars and climate change. Lol... You sound like a good tard influencer... I mean shill.

  • We still have a lot of sarcasm

  • It’s called space

  • Let’s have machines do it all problems solved

  • So congo is next to recieve us democracy

  • The law of conservation of mass dictates that we will never run out of any elements. They may become difficult to obtain, but they will never disappear.

    • What about helium? Once it's out, it's gone for good..

  • They haven't used arsenic in pressure treatment wood in the United States for about 20 years.

  • Just like beer bottles and cans, a recycle fee should be placed into the product retail value. When the device is returned, the premium will be returned. Those who could care less about a premium will still throw away their junk, but there will be an incentive for others to clean that up for profit. Add a refundable $100 to a phone and there won't be many phones escaping the recycling industry.

  • Asteroid mining?