George Carmack was in the right place at the right time. August 16, 1896, Carmack found gold in Rabbit Creek, a tributary of the Klondike River. He wasn’t there to strike gold, he just found it. How lucky can a person get! By 1897 the news reached Seattle and a mass of prospecting migrants from the Canadian Yukon Territory and Alaska left everything behind and migrated north to find their dream—wealth! This massive gold rush was called the Yukon Gold Rush or the Alaska Gold Rush.
Many of the prospectors decided quickly mining for gold was hard work. They saw a need and opened saloons, supply stores, banks, brothels, and restaurants. They made their wealth as entrepreneurs. Towns grew up overnight and became ghost towns overnight too. Quickly wealth came and quickly wealth was gone. By 1899 the rush for gold was over.
The gold rush did bring wealth to some and helped the United States get out of a financial depression. It helped the population of the Yukon Territory, Alberta, British Columbia, and Vancouver to grow quickly. But, it also caused massive soil erosion, water contamination, deforestation and loss of native wildlife.
Are we headed for another gold rush in our life time? The next gold rush for the inhabitants of the planet Earth will not be on our planet, it will be in outer space. Since 2015 companies have been allowed to own a piece of an asteroid for exploration. There are private companies spending huge amounts of money hoping to harvest metals that have been discovered on asteroids. Their goal is to be doing asteroid mining (the exploitation of raw materials from asteroids and minor planets) within the coming decades. They want to bring metals like gold, platinum and cobalt to Earth to replenish the supply that is being depleted. Currently companies are exploring three ways to harvest the metals: (1) Magnets could be used to collect the loose grains on asteroids that have a high metal content. (2) The metals could be extracted like coal is, by digging a tunnel and bringing the metals to the surface through a mine shaft. (3) A scoop or auger conveyor could be used to scrape the metals off the surface of the asteroid.
So far at least two companies are hoping to harvest an abundance of gold, platinum, iron and nickel from the asteroid Psyche 16. There is another asteroid that contains a huge amount of platinum. Platinum and gold are valuable on Earth because of their rarity. If these metals are brought to Earth in abundance, our world’s economy will face a crisis; it will collapse. The amount of gold alone, will cause chaos in the gold industry. Jewelry made with gold or platinum will decrease considerably in value. Great-grandmother’s jewelry might not be such a monetary inheritance in the future. Even if the value should decrease, its sentimental value will always remain.
Too much of a good thing, is not always a good thing!
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