Narrow Approach Resulting in Wide Scope Consequences

In LeCain’s argument about the effects of technological fixes he identifies the “transformational”, “relocational”, and “delaying” techno-fix which have which mining engineers/companies utilize when trying to reduce ecological damage while maintaining economic viability. Before going into the case studies LeCain states that the mining and smelting engineers often viewed pollution solutions allowing “the mining companies – to continue to freely exploit the environment by deflecting public criticism” (LeCain, p.139). Furthermore, LeCain entertains this idea by describing the engineers although maybe having genuine appreciation for the world these techno-fixes are a form of reductionism that doesn’t include the distant effects they can have on other environments or people not in their immediate area of concern. The first case study describes the massive release sulfur dioxide gas from copper ore smelting practices. Later on, it was reported that there was practically no possibility for crops to grow in the surrounding area of several miles (LeCain, p.140). What engineers responded with was the techno-fix of converting the sulfur dioxide into sulfuric acid which could be sold to farmers in the form of synthetic fertilizers. The transformational and relocational type of techno-fix at first seemed to work for everyone including the environment but soon the eutrophication was occurring in nutrient polluted water systems which can be extremely detrimental to ecological as well as climate systems.

Certainly, the natural resources of copper and other minerals have beneficial uses in many of the things we depend on today, but I certainly agree with LeCain’s main argument. We definitely need to use more caution in our uses of technological fixes and part of solving that issue should be focused on developing more holistic approaches to dealing with the process and results of mining. To achieve this, I believe there needs to be more interdisciplinary discussion when evaluating how certain mining sites will be operated and monitored during all stages. Specialists are extremely useful to society and give great intellectual insight to these tricky problems but we at least need to bridge the gap between many of these specialists to create these more involved systems thinking approaches.

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