Using the framework of industrial mining and smelting, LeCain categorizes technological fixes and ultimately calls for the broadening of environmental solutions. LeCain argues that transformational techno-fixes turn problems into “new products whose environmental consequences [scientists have] not yet investigated” and that relocational fixes merely “removed the pollutants to new ecosystems [engineers] knew little or nothing about” (LeCain, 144). In other words, the implementers of technology genuinely wished to solve environmental destruction and better mankind, yet the nature of their highly complicated task was certain to provoke consequences farther down the trophic cascade. For example, in Ducktown the successful remediation of sulfur dioxide associated with mining eventually led to water eutrophication associated with agriculture. (LeCain, 142). Those responsible for tech-fixes are not uncaring, but rather understandably focused on their narrow ideas of environmental solutions. LeCain also addresses the delaying techno-fix through his Anaconda arsenic example. He claims that such solutions give the illusion of success in the short term, yet resurface in the future, often in an exaggerated form (LeCain, 149).
Several past technological-fixes have unfortunately maintained the mining industry’s continued annihilation of natural ecosystems. But just as unfortunate is the fact that humans need metals and likely will in perpetuity. I agree with LeCain’s statement that never mining specific ores in the first place “may not have been a realistic option” (LeCain, 151). The world’s economy and geopolitics are built on metal and have been for centuries. And safely extracting this material from a such a complicated planet of biological and physical systems requires more insights than those of scientists and engineers. We need ecologists, humanists, and everyone in-between to craft interdisciplinary frameworks for more sustainable mining practices. Odds are humans won’t stop pillaging the ground. But perhaps we can turn the narrow techno-illogical fixes of the past into a broader techno-logical solution of the future.