onsdag 24. mai 2017

If Lead were Gold

by Robert Wood - Sociologist
The Bank of England has 400 000 gold bars in the vaults. If each bar weights 12,5 kilo and the estimated value of the metal is 150 billion pounds, approximately 1650 billion Norwegian kroner. The Norwegian Oil Fund is worth 8 000 billion kroner.

The thirst for gold is ever-present, but most people do not know why gold is deemed valuable. The industrial use of gold is 10 % of the yearly production, and the rest of the hoard is buried in huge vaults under The Bank of England, Wall Street, Tokyo and Shanghai.
   Why, valuable? The basic argument is scarcity. The metal is so scarce that you have to pay USD 1260 for a measly troy ounce of the stuff (31,103 grams), or 11 300 NOK. Scarcity…. However, if we follow the scarcity argument it does not make sense. Because, how can something useless, stacked in vaults, be scarce?
   Clean water, food and air are scarce, and getting more so. These fundamental necessities of life are much, much more valuable than gold for the two billion people who live on a dollar a day.
   You can’t drink or eat gold. And “my precious” gold will not clean the air, rather the opposite. It is estimated that 75 000 tons of CO2 are released into the atmosphere for every ton of mined gold. That means that the 3236 tons mined in 2016, released 242,7 million tons of CO2 into the atmosphere.

The Quest for Gold
However, no matter how bad the State of the Planet will become, the hunt for more gold will go on. The seductive gleam of gold captures the imagination. A metallic element to occur free in nature. It washes down the beds of streams, glimmers from the sides of cliffs, and snakes in shimmering veins through bedrock. 40 000 years ago, in Spain, Paleolithic cave dwellers gathered bits of the metal. Sparkling brightly, the nuggets were motes of sunshine. In the same way the inhabitants of ancient Peru thought of gold as sunshine. To the Incas gold was The sweat of the sun. The Aztec called the golden metal Teocuitlatl, which means The excrement of the gods. To Hindu sages it was The mineral light, a physical token of divine intelligence. The Greek poet Pindar called gold: The Child of Zeus. Gold's chemical symbol, Au, derives from the Latin word for shining dawn. The Atomic number is 79. Thereof, the name of this blog. Gull-au79

More is never enough
However, every ounce forced from the ground only fired the appetite for more. Merchants traded for it, princes went to war for it, and increasingly, through the ages, kings and commoners alike solicited the aid of supernatural agencies. Thus, the group of eager researchers known as alchemists, toiled in laboratories and libraries, searching for the divinely granted ingredient that would transmute lead into the most noble of metals… Gold.
   Today, modern technology can transform base metal to gold in a particle reactor, but the production cost is way over the cost of finding gold in nature.

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