Supply and Demand – The Oxymoron of Growth

There is a very simple fact; endless economic growth as it is currently perceived is inconsistent with our continued planetary existence. Unless we fulfil science-fiction and leave behind our scorched and desolate Earth in cryochambers for another “Goldilocks” planet we will not survive as a species. We cannot sustain this greedy locust paradigm.

Who is to blame?

Evil tempting technology or our hungry birds in a nest clamour for shiny toys? Without our demand for gadgets and trinkets, there would be no supply. Of course, purveyors of such trinkets will tempt us, but do we have to succumb?

This paradigm of economic {but not spiritual} growth is getting a bit long in the tooth. It started a couple of hundred years ago.

We do not need to fly to {unspoiled} destinations in the middle of an ocean to send back fatuous on-line content for our followers and paymasters. We have Zoom, Teams, Skype and perhaps Telepathy.

Our computers here are eight and four years old. There is no need for a new one every year. Once a decade is probably OK.

The melting point of Silicon is 1,400˚C.

“Silica is the dioxide form of silicon (SiO2) and occurs naturally in the form of quartz. While beach sand is also largely quartz, the most common raw material for electronic grade is high purity quartz rock.  Ideally the silica has low concentrations of iron, aluminum and other metals. The silica is reduced (oxygen removed) through a reaction with carbon in the form of coal, charcoal and heating to 1500-2000 °C in an electrode arc furnace.

SiO2 + C → Si + CO2

The resulting silicon is metallurgical grade silicon (MG-Si). It is 98% pure and is used extensively in the metallurgical industry.”

Electronic Grade Silicon

A small amount of the metallurgical grade silicon is further refined for the semiconductor industry. Powdered MG-Si is reacted with anhydrous HCl at 300 °C in a fluidized bed reactor to form SiHCl3

Si + 3HCl → SiHCl3 + H2

During this reaction impurities such as Fe, Al, and B react to form their halides (e.g. FeCl3, AlCl3, and BCl3). The SiHCl3 has a low boiling point of 31.8 °C and distillation is used to purify the SiHCl3 from the impurity halides. The resulting SiHCl3 now has electrically active impurities (such as Al, P, B, Fe, Cu or Au) of less than 1 ppba.

Finally, the pure SiHCl3 is reacted with hydrogen at 1100°C for ~200 – 300 hours to produce a very pure form of silicon.

SiHCl3 + H2 →Si + 3 HCl”

Everyone who uses semiconductors, in mobile ‘phones, computers, tablets, Televisions, printers, cars, Fitbits and perhaps even “intelligent” sex-toys has a Silicon footprint too! Your precious gigabyte images are stored in the “cloud” which sounds all nice and fluffy. But the cloud is energy hungry servers which need vast amounts of cooling.

So not only do you have a Carbon footprint you have a Silicon footprint too!

How do you spend you Silicon budget?

How much Silicon do you use?

If we continue to consume and hence make demand, those fond of a buck or two will supply. Simple.

We do not need anywhere near as much as we demand and take. We have become accustomed to our vampiric interaction with the planet, sucking the blood out of it, ripping out its lungs {forests}, defecating plastic into its oceans and burning up its energy reserves to fly to St. Barts.  

We need to grow as a humanity so that we are no longer beholden to our materialistic addictions.

Until such time as we manage to escape the clutches of this misguided materialistic economic  “growth” mantra we will continue to repeat our folly until the planet becomes nearly uninhabitable. If we and our livestock are the only animal species left what then? There will be no tropical reefs to waste air miles on, no alpine glaciers to ski down, no birds to watch in the wetlands and no sharks for our shark fin soup.

Will we take selfies at the biological meat production facilities?

Or will we queue at the spaceport for planet Goldilocks hoping that the rising tide will not engulf us before blast off?

There is no Planet B!!

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