Dirt, shiny metal stuff, and ways we kill ourselves

Tim Lecain goes into great depth on how technological advances have made underground mining to occur. In Butte, Montana, a guided tour into an abandoned mine shaft is available. This tunnel travels underground, and oak supporting struts are attached in a squared U shape to the walls and roof of the shaft.   The invention of electrical lighting illuminated these tunnels, meaning that they could be dug deeper than before. Digging these extensive tunnel networks created many problems. The foremost of these problems is the threat of the surface collapsing into abandoned tunnels, as is a common possibility discouraging developers from building on certain pieces of land. (Lecain, 36.) Underground mining shafts because hot, sometimes too hot to properly work in them. To bring air underground, the largest air pipes and intakes were brought in, and tunnels were dug underground to refresh the air. The issues of these were that they increased geologic instability and could be quite deadly (Lecain, 41.) The next problem came from hydraulic mining, a process that was powerful and destructive, washing trees and soil away, flooding farmland and fisheries with silt. (Lecain, 39.)

Mining has done great things by providing our world, both past and present. Short sightedness and greed  unfortunately created problems that we are still dealing with today, a century or more later. The nature and processes involved in most mining are environmentally damaging, and the types of mining that aren’t damaging do not provide enough material for our needs. The only solution I see is to cease mining on Earth, and perhaps mine asteroids or the moon. What environment is there to damage in space?