Geopolitics rears up in rare earths

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Wind and solar power face that age-old puzzle

The world journeys into the Green Age and renews  old themes. Chapters of political history grow thick with the value that  accrues from whatever.
So it was and ever shall  be, for better and worse. Biblical enterprises valued gold, frankincense and  myrrh. Explorers in the Age of Discovery sought gold and silver fit for royal  heads and sought trade routes to faraway lands of spices and silk.  
The Ottoman Empire took control of Constantinople  in 1453 and blocked European ventures. Access was cut off to North Africa and  the Red Sea – important trade routes to the Far East.  
Recent trade wars revolve around oil riches. Now  comes the Green Age with its computers, energy efficiency and renewable  energy, about to give “black gold” a run for its money.  
Breaking News!  Sept. 22, 2010 - Hong Kong:  Fishing skirmish in disputed waters worsens, China halts export of rare earths  to Japan.
Rare earths are the latest resources to  roil world politics. The Green Age comes of age.
“Rare earth” is its own category of 17 elements. “Rare” in the name implies  scarcity, but denotes a set of traits.
The tag is an artifact of history tied  to chemical behavior and atomic order.

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