[content_protector password=”gumboot15″]First we dug for coal, then we drilled for oil, then we bored for gas, dynamited for diamonds – and now experts are looking for the earth’s most precious of resources in human poo…

It sounds like a joke, but apparently it’s for real! According to a group of experts, the collected poop of a million Americans contains about $13,000,000 worth of gold and other precious metals!

Whilst I’m fascinated about how it all works – like, how does the precious metal get into the human body in the first place before it’s pooped out? – I’m more surprised that scientists are looking just about anywhere for earth’s increasingly rare and expensive resources.

How desperate must we be as humanity that we’re reduced to looking in poo for the materials we need to keep functioning as a society?

Last week I wrote about the $10,000 watch from Apple. If it wasn’t for ridiculous and needless items like gold-covered smart watches, scientists wouldn’t need to wonder about extracting gold from human waste.

It’s a measure of how obsessed we are with the latest, best, shiniest, most glamorous that we are not only looking in poo but trying to extract oil from under the ice cap of the North Pole and from the fragile wildernesses of Alaska, tear through millions of hectares of rainforest and have hundreds of thousands of workers in poorer countries work as cheaply as possible to feed our greed.

One English newspaper screamed the headline that the poop money ‘is worth millions and could save the environment’. I’m not sure about saving the environment, but I guess it’s recycling by another name – and it might supply humanity’s greed for a little bit longer.

Either way, it gives me something to think about next time I flush…

[colored_box color=”green”]This is an opinion-based article designed to provoke debate, discussion and further inquiry
amongst your students:[/colored_box] 

[colored_box color=”yellow”]Critical Thinking Challenges:

1. How does the precious metal get into the human body in the first place? Where does it come from?

2. Is this another form of recycling?

3. Do you think that we should ‘mine’ poop to get precious metals?


[colored_box color=”green”]Practical Tasks:

1. Research into gold. How much does it cost? What is gold used for? Why do we need so much of it? Where does most of our gold come from? Find a way to display what you have found out.

2. Without getting too disgusting, how would it work? How could you collect poop and extract gold and other precious metals. You could be scientific about this, or you could be a lot more imaginative and come up with ridiculous or slightly comic methods of separating the metal and poop (and making the metal useable)…

3. Look at the labels of food products – cans, bottles, packets – and look up what the various ingredients are. Which of them are metals? What do they do in your food? What do they do in your body?

[colored_box color=”red”]Have Your Say:
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32 Responses

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  2. EW! that’s pretty disgusting but I supose it’s a good way of getting useful metals

    P.S. the password is gumboot15 🙂

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