Time To Phase Out Cruel, Polluting Gem Mining Worldwide

The mining and selling of “blood diamonds” has been targeted by campaigners for decades and subject to many UN Resolutions addressing conflict diamonds mentioned in my previous article “Beyond Bloodstained Gems: New Science and Standards”. Even after the diamond cartel’s response, the Kimberly Certification of gems that are “conflict-free”, many stones escape into global trade. Since the market and consumer demand are growing for diamonds and other gems scientifically created in laboratories in North America, Europe and Asia, the future trend is clear: gem mining from the Earth with all the human pain and environmental costs is becoming obsolete and unnecessary. The science-created gems are also cruelty free, environmentally friendly, a fraction of the cost of those mined and marketed by the global diamond cartel and arguably more ethical.

The global transition now underway from polluting fossil-fueled industries and unsustainable development models to cleaner healthier more inclusive and sustainable green economies was ratified in 2015 by 195 UN member countries in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris agreements at COP21. Countries will now invest in the future, not bail out the past. The new development model leapfrogs many 19th and 20th century technologies, disrupting whole industries from retailing, media, law and medicine to coal, oil and mining. Instead of digging in the Earth, humans are looking up and capturing the basic free energy photons flowing daily from the Sun.

Naturally, these transitions are disrupting old patterns and jobs. Coal-mining is phasing out in Europe and the USA where less than 100,000 jobs remain while some 5 million jobs have been created in solar, wind, efficiency and other renewable sectors. Many sincere efforts to help the poorest, most vulnerable people in developing countries who suffer and often die in dangerous mining operations focus on trying to make mining companies more responsible. Others support small artisan mines operated by local people. This does not recognize that mining is one of the least sustainable industries and much of it, especially gem mining for luxury consumption can now be phased out, like many earlier industries of the past.

The renewable energy and recyclable industries now growing are already providing cleaner, healthier jobs and decentralized, equitable forms of development based on the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. We believe this promising future can provide millions in poverty with new opportunities for less dangerous livelihoods than mining. While many kinds of mining provide new minerals for electronics, advanced batteries, etc., these can be more automated and operated under much stricter regulations to protect miners and the environment. Thus, isn’t it better to foster more ethical consumption – beyond over-priced gems and conspicuous luxury consumerism? Our EthicMark® GEMS standard certifying only gems not mined from the Earth is helping grow a more realistic, less dangerous, less polluting approach to the traditions of gift-giving and pledging love and fidelity. For younger people’s values, science-created, less expensive gems are the best choice for a more sustainable future for all.

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