Monday, October 24, 2005
Matthew Wheeland, Associate Editor of the wonderful online publication Alternet posted on his blog today The Real Cost of Gold . It seems his post was inspired by a front-page article at The New York Times. Looks like Wheeland was too lazy to provide a link, and I guess I am too.
Wheeland argues that the enviromental costs of gold jewlery are obscene; for example he points out, "As the WorldWatch Institute announced in 2003, there is roughly three tons of waste created for each gold wedding ring." He provides plenty more evidence for the extreme environmental costs of gold. And also provides a few alternatives, namely recycled gold and old gold jewlery.
I wondered about other metals. I like jewlery, but don't wear it much myself. Surfing the Web for jewlery was a real eye-opener. It's not that I'm totally unaware of current fashion trends in jewlery, it's just that so much of it seems worn in the wrong places. The clerk at the convience store last night told me she was going to see some guy about a tattoo after work. In response to my grimace, I told her, "I'm just old." I thought she laughed a little too hard about that.
The the description of the little number pictured is "Tomb Spiked Nipple Collar" available at Tribalectic. It's made of sterling silver, a very beautiful metal, I think, but we all know it's no substitute for gold for anything that pierces the skin.
Actually sites such as Tribalectic do have many pieces of Jewlery made of alternatives to gold. Titanium is well known for medical implants and is used in jewlery, along with Niobium and Zirconium. I was interested that white gold is often plated to make it shiny, but the plating should be of sufficient thickness because an alergic reaction to the nickel in the alloy is fairly common.
The mention of the costs of gold also reminded me of the history of gold in Africa, much of it quite sordid. And the adventures of one of America's most notorious goldbugs, the reverend Pat Robertson. So much to read about Robertson's interests in African gold; this Ms Magazine article provides a clear window into that room of Robertson's vast empire.
The BBC produces good reporting about Africa, a subject worth of a post on its own. But here's an article about The Congo for a little background about gold mining in The DRC.
The value of gold is almost universally aknowledged. Will attention to the enviromental costs of it change the way the general public values the importance of gold jewlery? It's hard to tell, but just those sorts of changes are ones we know we must make for the sake of humankind. Alas, habits are hard to change.
I'm not sure how to make links live in the comment section, so from the comments here are the links. First an article about reducing the spread of AIDS among children and treating infected children. Second an intersting article about what shows up at pawn shops these days. Third a "must see" site about "Darwin's Nightmare" a film by Hubert Sauper.