Blame it on the Fix, Hon.

LeCain gave two case study examples which showcased the various types of techno-fixes found in environment/mining issues. In Ducktown, there was a transformational and relocational techno-fix, where the sulfur dioxide smoke from the copper mine was turned to sulfuric acid and sold as fertilizer to farms. However, those farmers ended up using more than strictly needed, so it ended up draining into waterways and causing algae overgrowths. In Anaconda, the final fix: delayed techno-fix, was also utilized. The Washoe factory ended up producing lots of arsenic, which was mitigated through the use of a filter after much damage was done to livestock and trees. The collected arsenic was used for fertilizer and timber preservation. Eventually, when the company shut down, the collected arsenic was abandoned to leach into the surrounding areas and affected the health of the local population after over 50 years of peace between the plant and the locals. LeCain shows through these case studies that none of the techno-fixes are truly permanent- some can keep the peace for decades, fundamentally change the issue, or move the problem somewhere else, but none actually eliminate it, and as such, people will always have to deal with the consequences on some way.


It’s obvious that we do still need mining for copper and all sorts of other things- unless we completely change the way we live our lives and stop creating things like computers and pennies. That seems unlikely. LeCain’s argument holds, but I also find it a bit pessimistic. the algae problem with the farmers could have been mitigated- or, we could accept that our need for copper outways how much we value elements of our environment. As was discussed earlier in the course- “natural” is in itself, a social construct. It is what we make it to be, and if we care more about laptops than lakes, then we can’t blame the results on the failure of a techno-fix.