Op-Ed: How the U.S. came to protect the natural world — and exploit it at the same time
The United States has made its name as an engine of innovation. This country has always been at the forefront of finding new ways to conquer the globe. But this success was based on two important principles: First, the American government and people believe that the future of the world belongs to the American way of life. Second, the American government believed that nature should serve us and to be left alone.
For the U.S. government, preserving nature meant protecting it from human encroachment. We have come a long way since the U.S. government first came to a consensus that the wilderness should be left undisturbed, and even encouraged to act as a biological machine to serve us.
But a century ago, the American government was working with the very forces of nature. American companies, led by American scientists, were using the same process of nature to find gold in the ground deep under the Arctic ice, and then using it to make money, while the government was secretly putting millions of tons of American taxpayer gold into the ground to do the same as a cover-up for something else.
American scientists were working in partnership with American entrepreneurs, who were working together to solve the same problem over and over, like an onion, year after year. In order to solve the problem, they would use the same basic process — deep drilling, open-pit mining, open-air mining and other kinds of mining to mine from the ground the gold that the previous process had left behind. American gold mining and American technology was, and continues to be, a process that the U.S. government was working with — and at the same time they were secretly funding.
This is a story of how the United States came to work with the very forces of nature to keep it from being exploited.
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On the morning of April 6, 1909, a young man named Clarence King was playing outside his home on the shore of Lake Superior in Wisconsin. He’d been playing, he said, for 25 years, ever since he was 8 years old. This was