Advice to guys is worth its weight in gold

November 01, 2005|by TIM ROWLAND


Is your wife or girlfriend one of those kitten- and puppy-loving saps? Does she profess to love walks on the beach, sunsets and deep, mossy woods? Does she weep over the plight of baby seals? Does she fear for the rain forest and the damage its decimation will do to songbirds? Does she want to save the whales? Free Tibet? Live in peace, love and harmony with nature?

Excellent. You've got her right where you want her.

Guys, I will not even demand a percentage of the money I am about to save you, just consider it a public service on my part, and perhaps you can do some corresponding kindness to your fellow man - and I mean man - on down the road.

The news last week was startling: The production of gold is devastating to the environment. And I, for one, am concerned. Deeply, deeply concerned.


According to the London Independent, "The lust for gold has reached record levels worldwide as India and China have joined developed nations in demanding more jewelry.

"But the world's remaining gold deposits are microscopic and the environmental costs of extracting them are profound.

An $1,800 wedding ring - equivalent to one ounce of gold - creates up to 30 tons of toxic waste. To produce that single ounce, miners have to quarry hundreds of tons of rock, which are then doused in a liquid cyanide solution to separate the gold. Payal Sampat, the campaign director for Earthworks, the mining watchdog, told The Independent: "Gold mining is arguably the world's dirtiest and most polluting industry."

Egad. I am humbled - no, make that humbled and distraught ... and remorseful too, yes, definitely remorseful - at the thought of all the damage I have done to our fragile ecosystem by selfishly buying jewelry for Those Who Demand It over all these years.

Thank goodness this information arrived prior to the holiday shopping season. And I swear, I was just reaching for the doorknob at Carson's when this news was podcasted into my ear.

Whew, that was close. Think of the environmental destruction I could have caused. But now I have an excuse, nay, a duty, to steer clear of that whole jewelry hornets' nest this Christmas.

"Darling, I would love to buy you jewelry for Christmas, but I fear for the environment." Yes, that will work.

Because goodness knows, nothing else has. The King Tut in High Heels made it pretty clear early on what she expected in the way of gifts. Unlike guys, women demand presents that are of no practical use whatsoever. So I got the standard, "If you ever bought me a vacuum cleaner for Christmas, I'd kill you."

Every woman I know makes this stipulation, usually prior to the first date.

"So, would you like to, you know, maybe go out for dinner and a movie?"

"Um, OK, but if you ever buy me a vacuum cleaner for Christmas, I'll kill you."

Now - well, what choice do we have? The high ground is ours. If she gets grumpy when, on Christmas Day she tears open the wrapping paper to discover a new set of tools, you can turn your shoulder, lift your chin in the air and sniff, "Well, pardon me. I guess I just love our Planet Earth a little bit more than some people in this household."

Of course there's always the off chance that this seemingly airtight argument will not work. Women possess this congenital neural disconnect when it comes to their creature comforts and the decoration of the extremities: True, many animals had to die to make this fur coat, but they were going to die anyway. True, these opals were mined by indentured aboriginals working for 3 cents an hour, but in Malaysia 3 cents is a lot of money. True, this four-ton SUV that gets six miles to the gallon highway is burning irreplaceable fossil fuel and destroying the ozone layer, but I need it for the safety of my children.

And I'm afraid the same thing will come of this gold revelation: Gold is really, really scarce, so practically speaking, how many of these cyanide leach pits can there be?

Ah well, it was a nice thought. But like other guys, I'm sure in the end that I'll conclude that a little environmental destruction is superior to a little husband destruction.

So hello, Carson's.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist.

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