LeCain categorizes tech-fixes into 3 categories; transformational, relocational, and delaying. Transformational tech-fixes involves converting something bad for the into something useful, or at least less harmful immediately. Relocational tech-fixes attempt to solve the problem by moving whatever is an issue somewhere else, where no one will complain about it. Delaying tech-fixes do as their name suggests and delays the problem. LeCain argues that nearly all tech-fixes fall into one of the categories and have a negative environmental impact. LeCain doesn’t believe that the people that thought of these fixes were uncaring for the environment, but instead that the ramifications of the fix was outside the scope of research. For example the Ducktown smelter added technology to capture sulfur after issues around the area. Ducktown and many other smelters then started to sell sulfuric acid to fertilizer produces which, “The majority of the fertilizer eventually ran off into local creeks and rivers.” (LeCain, pg. 143) This was obviously bad, but it took time for the effects of fertilizer runoff to be noticed, and the capturing the sulfur to sell was thought to have been a perfect fix for quite awhile.
I think it’s way too late to stop mining copper and other minerals. I agree with LeCain’s argument, because he blames the problems primarily on the lack of scope of research around fixes. The research done to see if the tech-fixes work focused solely on the problem in the area and not the problems the fix itself might cause. This gives me hope that we may be able to understand the ecosystem enough to be able to confidently decide what damage our actions have on the environment at a large and small scale.