As discussed by LeCain in “Between the Heavens and the Earth”, mining underground not only comes with a slew of problems but it’s a very difficult process. For this to occur, many technological advances had to occur, and many of which had strong negative repercussions on the environment. Such technological advances included not only keeping the mines sturdy through the ‘sturdy set’ timbering method, but the more controversial “groundwater [being] removed from mines by steam pumps and becoming part of natural surface water drainages”, illustrating some of the impacts the advances the mining industry had (LeCain 47). Not only did this cause a contamination to the ground water, but this water contamination and along with other problem caused by mining advancements, caused many problems for the surrounding farmers and ranchers, and even contributed to so called ‘dead zones’ in Butte and other areas of Montana.
Much like from the Diamond reading, both of this week’s readings illustrated just how problematic human activities (mining in particular) can be. As pointed out by Sandlos and Keeling, “in many cases it is the unseen (or more accurately, the useable) impacts of mining that pose the gravest long-term threat to ecological and human health… mines produce chemical and radiological hazards that persist for long periods of time, even indefinitely, after their closure”, which begs the question(s), how can we address these problems before after or during, and can mining ever be safe (Sandlos & Keeling)? In my opinion, more federal regulations are how these problems will be addressed, because too often mining companies are let off the hook due to political pull and lobbyist power. But also, mining will probably never be safe. It has been proven to be very dangerous over recent decades, and not much has been done to improve it.