LeCain describes three different types of techno-fixes, those being the transformational techno-fix, relocational techno-fix, and delaying techno-fix. The first case study he focuses on, solving the problems which arose from mining in Ducktown, used both transformational and relocational techno-fixes by transforming the noxious sulfur dioxide into functional sulfuric acid and relocating it across North America and Europe. While this appeared to be an ideal solution, the fertilizer created from sulfuric acid had problematic effects on water systems, and essentially only served to change the pollutant from one form to another. LeCain uses the second case study, the Anaconda Company of Montana, to discuss the third type of techno-fix. Rather than transforming or relocating the produced arsenic, the delaying techno-fix made “the effects of the captured arsenic… more gradual and insidious” (LeCain 148). LeCain’s main argument regarding these techno-fixes is that they do not serve to solve our problems—rather, they create the illusion of a solution, while passing the problem down to future generations and other locations (LeCain 149).
I would say the best way to address these issues is to find effective substitutions for copper and other minerals and reusing the resources we have already harvested, rather than continuing our pattern of perpetually mining. As LeCain illustrated, techno-fixes are a false hope that we can undo the harm we do to the environment, while serving only to mask the damage that is being caused. Like most of our environmental problems, mining is an example of humans hurting the Earth because of our unsustainable dependency on limited resources. We can continue burning through these important resources, or we can engineer new ways to sustain our society without causing the world that surrounds us to erode.