Deploy American brainpower. Because the United States produces so little of the Earth's rare metals, the country is sorely lacking in experts. When the Bureau of Mines closed its doors in 1996, materials science lost a major source of funding. The country needs more minds and more dollars dedicated to extracting and processing minerals at lower cost and with minimal environmental damage.
Make gadgets that last longer. Planned obsolescence is the enemy of conservation. To make better use of scarce materials, manufacturers need to produce devices that last for years.
Set up a materials agency. After the 1970s oil crisis, America spearheaded the International Energy Agency (IEA) to ensure the flow of oil around the world. Abraham says we need a version of the IEA for materials, an international forum for managing issues related to rare metals.
Develop strategic reserves of rare metals. Drawing from the same playbook, Abraham says companies should keep stockpiles of essential materials to guard against shocks to supply — something like the reserves developed in response to the OPEC oil crisis. Governments can offer incentives to companies who comply.