I think it's important to realize that we live in a world where the risk of
"termination shock" is omnipresent in terms of dozens of technologies
including transportation, energy, agriculture, and to a less apocalyptic
Fertilizer production might be one of the best examples. We are
globally-dependent on the fertilizer industry to pump out many metric tons
of nitrogen and phosphate each year. If this supply were to fail, billions
of people would likely starve in a few years as agricultural yields dropped
and food prices climbed. This is an activity which I imagine is roughly
equivalent to the scale of activity required for SRM. These are large
industrial facilities and mining operation with global economic and
strategic importance, they are dominated by three major countries (China,
Morocco, USA). Yet the system hums along just fine. We don't worry about
fertilizer termination shock, at least not very much. It's an imperfect
system where we have shortage and excess, but it gets the job done and has
been working like this for nearly 50 years.
We could argue about the merits of any potential comparison, but the point
is that there are dozens of similar industrial examples, many of which come
down to the production of critical products in just a few facilities
globally. We live in this world each day without worry or fear. I think the
risk of SRM termination shock is oversold. It requires basic contingency
planning or a market-based supply/demand system, but not a whole lot more
than that. The value in the termination shock concept was in identifying
this as a potential issue, but now that this knowledge is widespread, I
think the concept has outlived its useful life.
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