ScentCone writes "Pennies, pipes, untold miles of CAT5 - they tie up a lot of copper. Unlike abundant iron and aluminum, copper is relatively scarce. But it's vital to electricity generation/transmission, plumbing, and other uses central to a modern standard of living. Scientific American is providing a quick overview of the situation. They report the conclusion that there simply isn't enough available. Canada, Mexico and the US average 170kg of copper use per person, and the most generous estimates suggest that only 1.6 billion unused metric tons exist. More reclamation and use of fiber, wireless, and PVC helps - but won't be enough to cover the billions of people who don't yet live in highly wired/mechanized societies."