With the advancement of mining engineering and technology, cities like Butte became a huge draw for people like Marcus Daly, who tried to make it big in the mining industry. Despite the lucrative nature of mining and the large amount of precious metal ores discovered, mining has a devastating effect on the physical environment. Prior to Daly, most people had no idea what the anaconda mine was; however, with the advent of the engineering capabilities that allowed groundwater to be pumped out of mines and a ventilation system that canceled out the effects of steam powered rock drills, Daly was able to mine deeper underground than ever before (p. 44-45). But, with the ability to mine deeper, environmental problems became more prominent because more land was being disturbed. At one point, it was mentioned that some parts of the city of Butte collapsed into the ground because the ground was so weak from the mining industry (p.25).
After these technologies became widely available, the mining industry took over many parts of the United States and other countries, furthering the environmental damage caused by humans. Until recently, there wasn’t even legislation forcing mining companies to help restore the land they destroyed in their mining operations; now there are laws that require some restoration, however, there are still loopholes that companies can use, like the one’s discussed in Diamond’s piece on Montana. I don’t think there will ever be a way for humans to successfully mine something without completely altering or destroying the surrounding land areas. I also think that the chemicals released by mining are something that shouldn’t be taken lightly and the danger that mining poses to not only the natural environment, but the environment developed by humans outweighs the benefits of large amounts of precious metals.