Diamonds are little stones loaded with meaning and fraught with controversy. They’ve dominated the engagement ring market for the last 70 years. But many jewelry-lovers prefer not to support the cultural, environmental and social byproducts of these sparkly jewels. Instead, lab-grown diamonds have been a popular alternative. Now a company called Aether has announced that it can make diamonds out of the air — polluted air, that is. Aether takes carbon dioxide pollution in the atmosphere and turns it into beautiful, precious stones. The problem with diamonds Why go to great lengths to make diamonds in labs or out of the air when they already grow in the ground? The main troubles in the diamond business start in the extraction phase. For example, reckless diamond mining in Angola has led to deforestation , soil erosion and forced relocation of residents. Miners have built dams and rerouted rivers to expose riverbeds, adversely affecting fish and other wildlife. In Sierra Leone, miners left behind thousands of ugly abandoned mining pits, leaving the terrain unsuitable for wildlife habitat or for farming. Nor are conditions good for workers. In some African countries, miners make as little as a dollar a day. Labor is […]

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