The last gasp from the corpse of mining?

LeCain posits that there are at least three main types of techno-fixes, namely transformational, relocating, and delaying. For any particular example it is rare for only one of these categories to be present, usually two or more are combined to address some underlying issue. LeCain’s overall argument is that techno-fixes, while tenable from a short-term perspective, over the long run, “…all three types of techno-fixes ultimately resulted in other environmental problems…” (Lecain, p.139). This is often due to us not being able to understand the big picture of the environment, and how our actions can lead to a domino effect that can later cause great disruption, such as how Frederick Cottrell developed a electrostatic precipitator, which while successful in reducing the amount of arsenic put into the air via smelting, had the unforeseen drawback of heavily condensing the arsenic that otherwise would have been put into the air. This arsenic dust, after some time, found its way into the citizens of Mill Creek resulting in the complete evacuation of that town (LeCain, p. 148). This is an example of the delayed techno-fix, where you “solve” the problem initially but you are really just postponing the effects and damages for someone else in the future.

 

As for the cost/benefit of mining copper and other materials, this one is a hard one to answer. The products of mining, such as copper, have been extremely important in helping this country develop, and without copper as the backbone of the electrical grid we would potentially lack things such as refrigeration, lights, and other products essential to our current way of life. Yes, mining produces waste, but we use the materials gleaned from mining in so many aspects of our life that we would be unable to stop mining without significant changes to our lifestyles.

One thought on “The last gasp from the corpse of mining?”

  1. I appreciate your take on the importance of copper, as it has undoubtedly worked its way into every single aspect of our lives, from piping and transportation to cell phones and the electrical grid. Certainly, it is unfathomable to believe that any sort of stoppage to copper mining would not severely affect society. I am curious, now, what your potential solutions would be to solve this paradox. How do we mitigate the effects of the toxic wastes of copper mining to ensure that mining does not stop altogether? I think that no matter what that solution is, we need to draw on the arguments laid out by LeCain, specifically looking at how to create transformational, relocational, and delaying techno fixes (as these can still be useful in helping to solve the ultimate issue) and then taking one more step by looking at the cascading effects of these fixes so that we can predict any further environmental impacts along the cascading line.

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