In LeCain’s work discussing technological fixes in mining, he argues that the severity of issues was downplayed and allowed the continuance of mining operations (LeCain, pg. 150). In the two studies discussed, he focuses on the three different types of techno-fixes: transformational, relocational, and delaying technological fixes (LeCain, pg. 138). One point that LeCain argues is that the failure of technological fixes should not be blamed on the engineers who developed them. An example used is Frederick Cottrell, who developed the electrostatic precipitator (a vital part of the Anaconda techno-fix), but who was also passionate about the environment (LeCain, pg. 149). While the transformational and relocational fixes used in Ducktown were effective, the long-term environmental impacts weren’t addressed. LeCain argues that while this produced issues, it doesn’t indicate carelessness on the engineers’ parts; they were concerned with one pollutant. With Anaconda, effects of arsenic were delayed. It shifted the environmental impacts to other places and later generations (LeCain, pg. 149). LeCain argues the most damaging aspect of techno-fixes is the justification of continued operations of the smelter industry (LeCain, pg. 150).
Copper and other minerals serve everyday functions, which is why it’s hard to imagine not using them. While I would like to say that we don’t need them, the reality is that they are used in many things (copper wiring, for example), that it’s not realistic to think we don’t need them. If there was a way to use other materials to take the place of them, that would be ideal, but other materials would come with their own issues. I would agree with LeCain when he says that not mining/smelting at all wouldn’t be realistic (LeCain, pg. 151). I would also agree that techno-fixes were a step towards uniting tech and the environment, however I would say that they weren’t a very successful step.