Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Happy (American) Mothers' Day

Mom- I love you so much, I'll wash metal ore in poison so you can have a shiny thing. (Gold mining cyanide leach field)

I only say American Mothers' Day in this context, as we Brits celebrate our mamas in March (no doubt our "Mothering Sunday" like most British holidays has its roots in some gore soaked fertility orgy from the pre-Christian past that involved painting our willies blue and donning floral bonnets). But indeed, American Mothers' Day arrives this Sunday. The days leading up to this celebration of love and family are some of the busiest for jewelry retailers and by extention the minerals extraction business.

I'm not going to bang on about stuff we all already know, but as you consider this holiday, and indeed any holiday where gifts are exchanged, please bear in mind the true cost of the present you select is not only borne by your wallet but also by other people far removed from the comfortable world of malls and boutiques.

Illegal gold mine, Ghana

Should you want to know more about the trade in precious metals and gems, and about cleaner (in all senses of the word) alternatives (such as Canadian diamonds, for example) visit No Dirty Gold. Or if they appear too activist google the issue to find out some of the environmental and socio-economic research on the impact of resource extraction for yourself.

After all, your mother raised you better than to ignore the troubles of other people in pursuit of your own pleasures, didn't she?


weasel's Cuzzen Jim said...

Actually Mothering Sunday is pretty goddamed Christian (oops).

It's the 4th Sunday in Lent, the day when pious folk go off to worship at the mother church of their parish. And I thought all those bods outside Norwich Cathedral were just queueing for free hot cross buns...

Good call on the jewellery business though. Perhaps a follow-up piece on the trade in columbite-tantalite in 'D'RC? All so people can have the latest model of mobile phone each year. It's to do with pinhead capacitors. That's a part of the phone, not the grunts that keep buying them.

weasel said...

I used to think those queues outside the cathedral were spill over from the Samson and Goliath. Or Pizza One, Pancakes Too. Either way, I'm going to stop painting my willy blue on Mothering Sunday.

The cell phone thing is depressing too; just so people can yell "I'm on the train!" or "I'm in the store!". I don't own one for many reasons (mostly as my friends will tell you because I refuse to call anybody) but I hesitate to feel superior as no doubt I own a hundred things with a thousand components produced by unspeakable exploitation or environmental damage.

The organization I work at has a programme where kids run a cell phone recycling business, hauling in donated phones and shipping them off at a dollar a phone to a refurbisher who then passes them along to medical clinics etc in the developing world (it also keeps pollution out of local landfills). Even as I got the thing off the ground I couldn't shake the feeling that I was attempting to ameliorate one inequity with the product of another. And as for whose landfill the phones go into when they finally die for good- is this another case of the worst effects of good intentions?

Circuitry, gemstones, and "precious" metals though: definitely a trifecta that represents our contempary version of the banality of evil.