Techno-Fixes/Techno-Glitches

The title of this article, “When Everybody Wins Does The Environment Lose?”, clearly demonstrates the argument that LeCain is making throughout this entire article. LeCain states “In the popular mind, even when environmental techno-fixes do appear to solve problems for various human interest groups, they often appear to do so only by harming the natural world in some new way” (137), which shows that his argument is that techno-fixes do more harm than good at the end of the day. LeCain talks about three types of technofixes in his case studies, the transformational techno-fix, the relocational techno-fix, and the delaying techno-fix. He argues that these techno-fixes all lead to other environmental problems (LeCain, 138-139). He supports his argument in many ways, using different examples from history. One such example is that of the Ducktown Smelter, located in Georgia. The smelter was releasing loads of sulfur dioxide gas into the air, and many farmers and townspeople in the area began to sue the operators. Most won damage payments, but it wasn’t until the US Supreme Court stepped in until things changed and the Tennessee Copper Company were forced to develop a technofix that turned the sulfur dioxide gas into sulfuric acid. This seemed like a completely successful techno fix at the time, but it wasn’t. There was a large negative impact on the environment. Farmers applied large amounts of superphosphate to their crops which eventually ran into creeks and rivers and eventually red algae and bacteria overwhelmed lakes and ponds and absorbed oxygen in the water, which killed aquatic life. Similar problems occurred in the Anaconda case study.
As much as I hate to admit it, we definitely do need copper and other minerals. There is an incredible amount of technology that copper and other minerals are used in. For example, while copper is often used to make jewelry, it is also used in computers and in electric cables or wire. Copper can also be used in welding rods. While I agree with LeCain that techno-fixes create as many problems as they solve, I just don’t believe we can really get rid of mining for these minerals.

One thought on “Techno-Fixes/Techno-Glitches”

  1. Carly,
    Your summary of LeCain’s categories of techno-fixes and the unintended consequences that often are a result was very well done. I agree that we as a society are incredibly reliant on the metals and minerals that are extracted through these mining techniques, but I would argue that rather than try and end all mining completely (as would be ideal but unrealistic at this moment), it would be beneficial to look into other means for recycling these compounds. You mentioned copper jewelry, for example, old or broken pieces of jewelry could be melted down and used again to make new pieces. As far as the vast amount of metals needed for our electronics, if a better system for recycling electronic waste was introduced, we could drastically decrease the amount of new compounds in each item.

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