Good job bringing this to light. People won't realise how huge the problem is and municipalities are woefully ill equipped to...
Agreed; mining can never be sustainable, but then how do you get the metals to make all the things you need in the course of...
Very good piece.
Scientists at the University of California, Irvine, have made the world's smallest battery -- about the size of the common-cold virus (Science, Vol 257 No 5074). Chemist Reginald Penner and his co-workers stumbled on to it while trying to prove that silver and copper could be deposited as closely-spaced nanodots on a graphite surface to cause certain chemical reactions. They found the potential energy difference between electrons of the two metals behaved like a small battery. Atoms from the copper moved on to the silver dot about 70 nanometres (one nanometre is one-thousand millionth of a metre) away.
Penner's nanobattery delivers only 20,000th of a volt for 45 minutes and has no practical use. But he thinks one day improved versions of this tiny battery could power molecule-sized motors.