Disapearing Act

In “Between the Heavens and the Earth,” LeCain explains how technological advances made by mining engineers made it possible to mine in extreme environments. The first example hits home for me, the underground city of the Berkeley Pit at Butte, Montana. I am from Anaconda so growing we learned about the history between the two cities. Lecain stated that “since the days of the Ancient Romans, mine operators had pushed the limits of their technical abilities in order to make profit from extracting minerals at even greater depths” (Lecain p.37). Because of this, engineers created powerful techniques for measuring and controlling complex underground spaces, but this led to the whole city of Butte being on top of basically an anthill, leading to some buildings to collapse into the ground. Lecain goes on to say that the engineer’s failures usually weren’t caused from being careless but from their own overconfidence in their abilities to fix the different problems (Lecain p. 60). Lecain has a powerful quote that I believe that sheds light on how these engineers thought, he says, just as men used the power dynamics to dominate women, so too did they believe their technological systems could dominate the natural world, or perhaps even subsume nature altogether

. The best way, currently, to address all the different negative outcomes of mining has to be performing a cost-benefit analysis. Take all of the benefits, and give a dollar value to them, then take all of the negative outcomes with a dollar value and take the difference. If it is a positive answer then go ahead with the mine. People may argue that putting dollar amounts on these is impossible, but I believe that there is enough history in dealing with mining that dollar values should be able to put on every outcome foreseeable with the mine. I’m not sure if mining will ever be completely safe only because minerals are being moved out of the environment but the only way it can move in the direction of becoming completely safe if by continuing to make technological advances.

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