If man has shown nothing else, it is his willingness and ingenuity in invention when exerting his will over nature. And in this instance, when I say man, I say it in a gender specific way. Though, this was an interesting article on the advancement of hard rock mining, and the capital behind it, I found the most interesting part of the analysis to be the idea that male power dynamics (assumed) were prevalent in the advancement of mining technology with the engineers belief “their technological systems could dominate or marginalize the natural world- or perhaps even subsume nature altogether” (Lecain, p. 60). It is the same hubris that men were somehow more qualified than women that also drove a ‘rise to the challenge’ attitude that drove mining engineers to rapidly respond to the extremes of hard-rock mining with technological fixes, often with little foresight about the downside. One has to wonder where we might be today if cooler minds had prevailed at times.
Though a world without copper is almost unimaginable, we have no doubt paid a high price for its extraction. The pursuit of technology and its rewards is not always as simple to decipher as it may appear on the surface. When one considers the almost unfathomable wealth and power that came out of Butte during the heyday of copper mining, it’s easy to see why the rush to technological fixes sometimes ignored the potential future pitfalls. As illustrated in the Sandos and Keeling reading, cleanup, like mining itself is a Pandora’s box, with one step forward resulting in two backwards. Though future technologies may offer solutions, there seems no easy fix to the environmental perils of mining. Until potential fixes are put in place, and with mines proposed in environmentally sensitive areas, the question needs be are the results worth the consequences.