Monday, June 8, 2020

#160 / The Price Of Everything...

Paul Bernal, who is a Lecturer in Information Technology, Intellectual Property, and Media Law at the University of East Anglia Law School, writes a blog focused on issues related to privacy, human rights, the internet, and politics. I discovered Bernal's Blog in connection with doing some quick research on that famous saying of Oscar Wilde, who is pictured above. I feel certain you know the one I mean; it's the one that begins that a person knows "the price of everything..."

In a blog post dated April 13, 2014, Bernal discusses Wilde's observation as follows: 

In Lady Windemere’s Fan, Oscar Wilde had Lord Darlington quip that a cynic was "a man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing." As with so much of what Wilde wrote or said, it’s more than just a nice turn of phrase – it hits at the heart of the problems of society.

I think Bernal is right about that! 

I had occasion to be thinking about the truth of Wilde's observation because of a stunning article I read in the March 2020 edition of The Sun magazine. "100 Dollars" is the title of this article, which I commend to you in its entirety. The article was written by Daniel Uncapher, a letterpress printer from north Mississippi, and it vividly illustrates just how true it is that we often don't know the value of the things that make life possible - although we well know the price of just about everything. Click that link, above, for the whole article. It is pretty short. 

Below is an excerpt from Uncapher's article, one of the several sections that comprise the whole. Each section of the article is prefaced by a money amount associated with the topic addressed in that section (and they are all different). Those various amounts, added up, give us that $100 figure that provides Uncapher with his title:

The sand scientists — and please understand that I’m not one myself — say that sand is too cheap. It costs about $30 per ton, and a ton of sand is a pretty decent amount. I used to get my sand out of the Yocona River with five-gallon buckets from Home Depot. I took it home, panned as much trash and feces out of it as possible, and then mixed it into concrete to make sculptures. Concrete is a disaster, responsible for more than 8 percent of global CO2 emissions. Cities are made out of concrete and glass, both of which are made from sand, and many cities, like Singapore, are built on sand. To mine all that sand, they literally rake it off beaches and out of riverbeds, destroying entire habitats, which is illegal in a lot of places. So most sand is mined outside of the purview of the law. As I said, I’m not a sand scientist — I’ve never even looked at a grain of sand underneath a microscope, though I have seen a photograph of that very thing on the Internet — but you have to believe, now that I know all of this, that I’ll never steal sand from the Yocona again.

Pictured below is a sand mine which has been operating on the Monterey Bay since 1906. The Coastal Commission has worked with Cemex, which owns the mine, and the mine will soon be shut down. That's good news, and especially for those of us who may not know the price of sand (it is apparently something like $4.70 per bag), but who do know the value of that sand as part of the World of Nature, the natural environment that sustains all life. 

No more sand from the Yacona, and no more from Monterey Bay!

Image Credits:
(1) -
(2) -

1 comment:

  1. The pain of revaluing things is, like sand and water in aquafers, difficult and painful. For another example, consider the decision about valuing carbon transfer to the atmosphere.


Thanks for your comment!