There once was a time when gold was money. The 20th century, with the implementation of industrial society throughout the world, should’ve put an end to such a barbaric practice. But it didn’t. And so here we are in, or rather here I am in 2013 debating on whether precious metal money still makes sense in the 21st century.
With the implementation of nuclear weapons and GPS in the 1950s worldwide, the age-old practice of war for scarce resources should’ve ended. We were supposed to come together, internationally, to establish a “new world order,” where reason, science, and united aspirations toward the space age would put an end to poverty and regional resource wars. As it turns out, it didn’t.
The most recent example of the fact that nothing has changed, despite our scientific achievements as a civilization, is the Rosia Montana mining project in Romania. An expected 300,000 kilos of gold are about to be extracted, with 6% of the money going to the Romanian government and the rest going to Gabriel Resources, the company that has masterminded, or more correctly monopolized, the whole project.
So now we have to once again face our barbaric past. Does gold mining still make sense in the 21st century? Remember, money was created in a time of scarce access to resources, when resources were hard to obtain and more importantly the environmental consequences of extracting such resources were minimal. That was 2 centuries ago. Now, advanced equipment has made mining more efficient, and also more toxic for the environment. Not only that, but the bulk of the resources that could be easily extracted have already been extracted. Most of the gold that has ever been mined is actually in refined form already, around the world.
This brings me to the next point – gold just sits there. It does not gain income, as a solar energy collection project would. Germany, for instance, is now almost entirely fossil fuel independent thanks to its successful rapid deployment of solar panels around the country. So while we all sit around debating on whether gold is money, or silver is money, or Bitcoins are money, or dollars are money, smart enterprising countries are already beginning to understand reality – money is irrelevant when we all share the same increasingly crowded planet.
The truth is that this project, the Rosia Montana gold mining project, has the potential to enrich a few people massively, while most (99%) of the people will suffer, along with their offspring for generations. Is it fair for 1% of people to punish 99% in this way? Instead of thinking how we can create a more fair, just form of “money” that ensures long term gains for all humans living on Earth, a few people who don’t represent us are using technology for quick gain at the expense of everyone else, in effect giving mankind a lever of incredibly destructive potential over its own biosphere.
What we need to do now, as a species, with 400ppm CO2 in the atmosphere, and increasingly polluted and exploited natural resources, is decide how we’re going to use our technology to improve life on this planet, rather than how to use technology to destroy ourselves. Furthermore, how can we employ such destructive technology when we haven’t even found a reliable “backup” planet to migrate to in case we destroy this one?
And if you think this won’t happen in our lifetime so why should we care, the reality is we are at 11:59pm on the doomsday clock and the next minute will happen faster than anyone ever could’ve predicted from the past trend. Such is the way with exponential trends. So we are all, in effect, contributing to the cannibalization of our own planet and our own species and what we are seeing are the expressions of this disease now spreading upon the Earth.
I have very little confidence that the next generation of people living on Earth will get to enjoy much of any of the things we took for granted in previous generations… clean water, clean air, biodiversity of animal and plant life, and opportunities for exploration and philosophizing. This will not happen if we push for maximum efficiency extraction of the last available thing we could even call a resource, until it’s all sitting there, and we’re all dying from the after-effects of the “war on planet Earth” that we unleashed thanks to technology.
Where are the aliens to save us? Now would be a good time for them to step in and clean up this mess.
Gold is not money. Silver is not money. They are just metals on the periodic table. Money is what we, as people, decide money to be. You want poisoned lakes and rivers? Choose gold as money. You want CO2 and global warming? Choose oil or natural gas.
You want a prosperous future? Choose the sun.
It’s time to stop being savages. It’s time to stop ignoring the sun.