Humans: creating problems by trying to solve other problems we have created

Le Cain’s argument stems from his definition of the three types of technological fixes, which he lists as transformational, relocational, and delaying (p. 138). Overall, he seems to explain transformational fixes as those that take a pollutant, for example, and turn it into something else, relocational fixes as those that relocate the problem elsewhere, and lastly, delaying which delays the unavoidable outcome of a situation. His attitude toward the fixes themselves is that they do work; the fixes do what they are set out to do. For example, in the case of the Ducktown smelters, the toxic sulfuric dioxide gas was turned into sulfuric acid which could then be used in plant fertilizers. This situation demonstrates the use of relocational and transformational fixes working for a mining company, however, it also displays the unintended environmental effects these fixes can have. Despite ridding the Ducktown smelters of their problem, a new problem was discovered with the sulfuric acid in fertilizers being sprayed over plants too intensely leading to chemical runoff into streams, in turn, causing detrimental effects to other ecosystems (p. 142).  Le Cain thinks that we, as humans, do not investigate environmental effects broadly or fully enough because in the cases he listed, the immediate environmental effects were analyzed but not the full scope.

Due to this lack of knowledge we have about environmental effects and unintentionally causing phenomena known as trophic cascades, I think that we should be much more cautious of our anthropogenic activities. I think that more in depth analyses regarding environmental effects should be done to ensure that the trophic cascades we cause are smaller or will cease to occur. I don’t think we will ever be able to rid ourselves completely of metals like copper, since we have been using it for thousands of years, but I think that we should try and limit our environmental impacts as a whole.


1 thought on “Humans: creating problems by trying to solve other problems we have created”

  1. I agree with you about human activities needs to be limited and that society will not let go of the minerals we are using. Do you think that our activities and the “fixes” that we make also contribute to global warming. I think so, and I believe it’s getting close to the point of no return for the world.

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