The crazy car parked on the sidewalk is so out there that I cannot help but take a second glance. Holy cow it is a Gold Plated BMW! I’m walking through Beverley Hills with time to kill before my meeting with Pivot (my TV network), but even in this neighbourhood, the car seems out of place.
In fact I’m more interested in the lady driving it now. I walk up and a middle-aged woman sits smugly behind the wheel, basking no doubt in her financial glory. She looks like she’s had a fair bit of work done. I take a photo of her car and she gives me a dismissive glance.
As I wander away, I can’t get the image of the car out of my mind. It nags at me. Last year we busted several illegal gold mining operations in Costa Rica. There were 2 separate gunfights and the missions were very challenging. But part of the problem is the high price of gold. It encourages poor people into occupations such as illegal mining. And if the wealthy all start plating their cars in gold, well the problem is only going to get worse.
In many ways people like that BMW owner are part of the problem. An entire car plated in gold. But that is just symptomatic of a culture where excessive displays of opulence are considered desirable. The problem however runs much deeper, and we are all to blame for the high price of gold. Let me explain.
Gold is ever present in today’s society, and we continue to consume it at an alarming rate. Cellphones, SD Cards, Computers, Cameras, Credit Cards, Wall Sockets – All have gold in or on them. Precious metals such as gold, nickel, palladium, platinum, copper, zinc are throughout our electronics, and these resources are all mined from somewhere around the planet – Sadly, an increasing amount of it is from Jungles and other precious ecosystems.
Those goldminers we busted in Costa Rica last year, it isn’t them consuming the gold. It is us! Wealthy and not so wealthy Westerners who buy and discard electronics with little thought given to what pressure it places on global resources. We have become a discard society. A larger LED screen that is curved or whatever comes out, and many people go scurrying off to replace their old flat one. Electronics have become so cheap that much of the population simply buys them as a consumable to be discarded in a year’s time.
The problem is exacerbated with many electronics companies incorporating planned obsolescence into their products. Or quality is so poor that products fail after a year. Now I’m not saying we can’t use electronics. But we need to have manufacturers that make quality electronics that last, and we need to shift away from replacing our products so quickly.
We might point the finger at that slapper in Beverley Hills with her gold plated car, and people like that are a disgrace. But remember we are part of the problem too. If we’d rather be part of the solution, then reducing our consumption of electronics is a good place to start.