Ducktown, Anaconda, and the inevitability that we will need minerals forever.

A large takeaway from the past lectures in class and this week’s readings is that mining has been an amazing example of unprecedented cause-and-effects to our environment and an even more amazing example of the uses of technological fixes to reprimand those specific environments – both human and natural – that have been affected by the beast of mining. LeCain describes the advancements and downfalls of the three prominent technological fixes that provided solutions to pollution: the transformational fix, relocational fix, and delaying fix (p. 138). One of the case studies mentioned was the area of Ducktown. It was an example of transformational and relocational fixes – LeCain’s argument was that while it fixed the immediate problems humans and their surrounding environments were facing, only miles away it was causing a secondary environmental effect: chemical runoff leading to eutrophication in waterways (p. 140-142). Following the harsh effects caused by Ducktown’s smelting processes, the second example LeCain speaks of is the Anaconda Company. The company used all 3 fixes mentioned above to deal with arsenic pollution that was causing livestock deaths and human health issues to the surrounding community (143-145). Having mentioned these two case studies, LeCain’s central argument is that fixes lead to more fixes, and there is great concern as to why that has happened, and seemingly will continue.

I think we need copper and other minerals that are mined for construction and electrical purposes, but it would be better for the natural environment, human health, and human safety if we found a more efficient way to recycle these materials; or come up with an ever better technological advancement that replaces these environmentally degrading minerals as a whole. Furthermore, due to the logistics that matter can’t be created or destroyed, we will inevitably need natural resources to recycle materials. As horrible as it sounds, I think it will be a never ending cycle of figuring out the absolute best way to approach these newfound problems. However, I agree with LeCain that the engineers and researchers behind these solutions never mean ill-will towards the environment, and we can always hope that a holistic approach and long-term thoughts are in consideration here on out.