In When Everybody Wins Does the Environment Lose? by LeCain he argues that techno-fixes used to solve environmental issues often end up hurting the environment in another way (137). He contends that there are three types of technological fixes used to handle issues. The three types are “1. the transformational techno-fix 2. the relocational techno-fix 3. the delaying techno-fix” (138). In the first case study, the transformational techno-fix and relocational techno-fix were applied when the state of Georgia sued the Tennessee Copper Company for polluting the air with sulfur dioxide gas. The company was able to transform the sulfur dioxide into sulfuric acid (140). After creating the sulfuric acid, the company sold the material to farmers who used it as superphosphate fertilizer and the material was relocated across North America and Europe (141). The problem with this techno-fix was the farmers overused the superphosphate fertilizer and the material leaked into local rivers and creeks which in turn leaked into lakes and ponds. The concentration of the sulfuric acid killed off lots of aquatic life (142). In the second case study high levels of arsenic from the Washoe copper smelter in Anaconda, MT killed off many animals and vegetation in the region (144). Fear of federal lawsuit lead the company to develop a techno-fix. The company used an electrostatic precipitator to remove large quantities of arsenic. The arsenic was transformed into pesticide and relocated to Southern cotton fields. The soil and water in the South was contaminated by arsenic which does not break down for a long time (148). The delayed techno-fix resulted from the arsenic left over from the closed smelter which is now leaking into water and air in the Butte and Anaconda areas which could make people sick (149).
The past few lectures and readings we have done have made me question whether mining for copper and other heavy metals is vital in the 21st Century. We have so much more information on the harmful effects mining has on the environment and organisms living near the mines. It appears we need to find better solutions than mining to prevent with these environmental issues. I agree with LeCain’s argument that techno-fixes tend to have more secondary problems associated with them than actual solutions. As LeCain argued techno-fixes were a move in the right step, but a new way to obtain energy and materials need to be researched (151).