Gold. What Is It Good For?

Low grade gold and copper deposit, colossal waste pit, probable pollution of an ecosystem, mining interests and state government not caring about such inconveniences, blah, blah, blah.  The stakes on the Pebble Mine are extremely high.  In one corner we’ve got Canadian mining jobs and profits, in the other, one of the wonders of the natural world.  Before the bell, a few questions:

About Copper

Can you recycle it?

Can it perform a technological function?

Can you tie flies with it?

Er, yes, well....let's change the subject, shall we?

Can you say Butte, Montana? How about Superfund?

About Gold

Can you eat it?

Can you drink it?

Can you cook with it?

Can you heat your home with it?

Can it heal the sick?

Can you make jewelry out of it?


Can you poop in it?

Yeah, two in a row! Take that, food!

Copper has a variety of uses and continues to contribute significantly to material human progress (whether these contributions justify the slightest chance of destroying the Bristol Bay watershed is the subject of another post).  Gold, however, is becoming difficult to view as playing a positive role in anything, especially in these trying times.

Exhibit B

“But Truchacabra, gold is the foundation of the global economy.  Without it, the currencies of the world would have no value.”

I get it, but then again, I don’t. We’ve been getting it done for how long with currency made of paper.  Then we had plastic, and now we have computer screens telling us how much we have to spend as well as what we just bought. Paper, plastic, and computer screens, and I’m supposed to believe that a shiny yellow metal backing whichever media of exchange is somehow less abstract?

“Silly Truchacabra, gold is solid. It’s permanent.”

Well, lots of things are permanent, plutonium for instance, or a 20 square mile lake filled with mine waste.

Here’s how I’m afraid it’s going to go.  The powers will troll the villages near the proposed mine site.  They’ll find a few suckers who, though not amounting to a majority, will look like one after the torches and pitchforks are handed out. This group will get really loud, enough to drown out even the greatest shouts of reason.  From my masochistic perspective, it will be extremely fun to watch for maybe two minutes.

Fricking enviros! Killing jobs we'll never get in the first place!

In my dreams, I see God eventually sending Saint Peter down to check on things.  Having grown concerned about the state of his domain, the holiest of holies will want to know if the price of humanity’s soul really has no floor to it, if there’s anything we won’t do for a buck, basically, how deep is our gutter.

Peter will then describe a scene for us, taken from our not too distant future.  The last drop of oil has been burned, our last war fought.  We will have poisoned our last river, and the earth’s last topsoil will have been baked, flooded, and blown into oblivion.  On stark, barren terrain stand a woman and a man.  The woman holds a fat salmon, the man two bricks of gold.

“For a shot at eternity,” Saint Peter says, “tell me who’s your friend.”



Filed under Conservation, Tweet My Junk

2 responses to “Gold. What Is It Good For?

  1. Bill

    Actually, I can’t think of a currency in the world that uses gold as it basis since the breakdown of Bretton Woods when Nixon closed the Gold Window back in 1971. Currencies no longer have any intrinsic value other than faith in the issuing government.

    A lot of the value of gold right now is from investors who are using it as a hedge against the debasement of currencies by world governments. It’s a way to hold something that is not subject to the whims of politicians or central banks. Back during the great depression, Roosevelt tried to confiscate all the gold from US citizens, as they were hording it to protect themselves from a failing government.

    If governments around the world started acting responsibly (I know, fat chance), the price of gold would fall significantly, and make projects like Pebble much less attractive.

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