Wednesday, February 17, 2016

There might have been something else going on....

In the midst of an interesting article about peak phosphorus, an interesting statement: 
Phosphorus is not a renewable resource 
Reserves are limited and not equally spread over the planet. The only large mines are located in Morocco, Russia, China and the US. Depending on which scientists you ask, the world’s phosphate rock reserves will last for another 35 to 400 years – though the more optimistic assessments rely on the discovery of new deposits. 
It’s a big concern for the EU and other countries without their own reserves, and phosphorus depletion could lead to geopolitical tensions. Back in 2008, when fertiliser prices sharply increased by 600% and directly influenced food prices, there were violent riots in 40 different developing countries.
Seems to me there might have been a recession or something going on then?

(I get that it's all interconnected, but it seems to me that the real issue was the incredibly high price of oil at the time...) 


  1. So, the phosphorus just gets smited off the face of the earth after the fertilizer gets put on the ground?

  2. I propose a business harvesting phosphorus from downstream algal blooms. Seems at least as practical as asteroid mining for other elements.

    1. It would be interesting to know how well ocean chemical extraction businesses has been. What would the best mechanisms for extracting phosphorus at the ~500 ppm level? be, especially at (say) the mouth of the Mississippi?

  3. Here in Florida, South-east of Tampa, are huge open mines for phosphate sediment rocks, it is extracted by sulfuric acid and the produced calcium sulfate is unsuitable for construction business (because of natural occurrence of radium trace that produces radon gas) so it all goes to landfills - the highest hills in Florida are 'phosphogypsum' piles... The phosphate mining company Mosaic seems reasonably responsible, there were no major disasters/spills but one thing that worries me are the cistern trucks filled with molten sulfur that I see on the fairly narrow 2-line Highway 60: they make sulfuric acid on site and transport S in liquid form...

  4. There was a similar article in 2013.