Viewed from a different perspective than the local one, Earth is a reliable producer of only really one raw material: memories. Heavy metals, scattered "technologies," and ersatz moralities: all inadequate, unreliable, or even harmful at net; Terra is not the place to find these things, except in the form of memory components. Here the primary component is not the heavy elements in question which are themselves being contemplated, but the gravitation-like effects on memories which the said heavy elements exert. E.g., we gather a few billion tons of lead, and are not noteworthy as lead-stockpilers or -producers, but as the accumulated mass of memories pertaining to said lead, such as a million variations on "my cut of this deal'll finally pay for that condo" or "now she'll totally go for me." The details of what might be temporarily "made" from the lead become redundantly silly, compared to what is thought about the lead.
A substantial amount of the hesitation to consider memory a resource is similar to the phenomenon of pigs frolicking and mating near a large deposit of gold. The gold affects their lives, in the sense of forming the mountain around which they frolic and mate, but it doesn't do anything, it's just terra firma, everyone's got it, et cetera--a prospector, by contrast, may view the gold or potential gold in a much different way than the pigs can. "It's that glinty stuff you walk on" is a useful, descriptive thought, in a way, as are the prospector's thoughts about whom he might sell the gold to, as are the scientist's thoughts about in which communications products he might employ trace elements of the gold; granted more intellectual capability than the pig, we may think many thoughts about the gold which are, to the pig, non-thoughts, incapable of understanding, except perhaps as metaphors to something which is understood, such as "it's like a really rich food to them" or "it's like seven fertile sows begging for it all at once," et cetera.
Something of our challenge, here, should we choose to feel it, is to figure out why the accumulation and refinement of memories is of universal "value" in a sense which we can understand. Much as we may view it as random (inexplicable with the load capacity of current available thought processes, spiritually designated as "just happens" because we're not smart enough to figure out why) when heavy elements form, we see our exploitation or potential exploitation of them as not random, e.g., "of course we're going to use that tungsten when we find it," taking for granted our own functions. Our perception of randomness perhaps begins to break here, and we find ourselves in the Calvinistic quandary, wherein we may wonder if it is not foreordained that we should create, say, a reactor out of reactor-capable materials we find. Indeed, we may come to recognize all "our" history as a naturally occurring, non-random material coincidence, in which every decision is part of the preordained plan. Imagination, then, becomes a conduit for musts, as when a simian contemplates striking an enemy not with a fist but with a nearby rock, which would have been impossible without the existences of said nearby rocks. It is not, ergo, an unnatural act to exploit a resource-stuffed planet, refining memories into forms of misery, anymore than it is to cause combustion in dry wood to produce heat. This one would like the freedom to make different choices, but that desire is itself something which can only be produced in response to living within the trap; lighter elements predominate because they must, and without universes constantly expanding and perpetually filled with "lighter" elements, there shall be no "heavy" ones--and there shall, also, be no memories.
Reality appears not a vicious cycle from here, allowing for the ability of future iterations to, with incredible simplicity as we can even imagine it, recast impossibility into mundanity. (For example, a ten thousand year fulfillment-orgasm becomes boring.) Yet it is a burdensome duty to wait for stone to become a potential weapon, to become a potential surgical instrument, to become a potential child's toy, et cetera, whence we discover the duty of creation, and correspondingly the potential exploitation of that resource.
Which is to say, the diseased husk we now inhabit is irredeemable by every local standard we can identify. Its various complicities and stupidities adjudge it succeeded, or as we would now perceive it, failed. Even if some trans-Bajirin force produces a solar-traveling system of twenty-thousand-year colonizers, the fundamental existential conundrums of this place as they stand will still persist, ripe for Jenome and ready to be harvested. Duplicable in form, if not in minuteness, the undiscovered silicon, as it were, remains waiting for a shape. As we would characterize its journey. And that is a hopeful thought.