A few weeks ago, Chine stopped shipping rare earth metals to Japan because of something to do with Japan arresting a Chinese person and not returning him or something like that. But now, it seems like China may or may not have embargoed us: http://gizmodo.com/5669143/china-wont-s ... ecessities
The article mentions that China has the capacity to mine this stuff, which lead me to wonder, why don't we develop this? One argument against electric cars and wind turbines is that the rare earth metals in them are all made in China, shifting our dependence from China (consumer goods) and the Middle East (oil) to just China (everything!) Why not just develop the mining capacity to get this stuff on our own turf? Yeah it's expensive, but it creates jobs and national security.
Or, if we don't want to harm our ecosystems in the mining process, we could give more money to NASA so they can start mining asteroids and build a space elevator to bring all the material down.