A Very Expensive Weding Ring

The price of gold is at a premium, at least on the stock exchanges of the world. Those who buy and sell it, those who own it feel very pleased. But there is a real price to gold, one we all share. Mining this metal causes significant loss of land, contaminates ground water supplies and also leaves behind toxic waste that pollutes oceans. Chemicals, particularly cyanide, which are used to separate gold from the earth it is embedded in are responsible for a lot of environmental problems. Mining companies operating in countries like the United States are a bit more careful. There is however a double standard and in Africa, Latin America and Asia, the problems are far worse, often displacing people and leading to the release of harmful substances like sulfuric acid and to much environmental waste. Experts see the need for uniform standards and for laws to protect the rights of local residents along with the environment. Until then we ought to remember that given current practices to extract enough gold for a wedding ring can generate 20 tons of waste.