“Rub some dirt on it, that will fix it for sure”

Technology is made up of new and exciting inventions. I’m glad that I’ve grown up in an era where I have instant access to any information I may need. However, I’m not excited that my generation is having to deal with environmental issues left behind by the ghosts of mining’s past. Technology is meant to make life easier, unfortunately, technological fixes are frequently used as a bandage to environmental problems, i.e., if there are a lot of dangerous materials floating around a mine, they can be transferred to settling ponds where the arsenic and copper can’t escape and harm us… until a large storm comes along and sends the heavy metals in the pond back into creeks and fields. According to LeCain, there are three types of technological fixes used in the mining industry, transformational, relocational, and delaying techno-fixes. While those three types of technological fixes often offer an immediate solution to an environmental issue, “in retrospect the techno-fixes can be seen to have often disguised the full magnitude of the environmental problems and thus served to justify the continued operations of the smelter industry” (LeCain, 150).

It seems that as soon as humans discovered what could be done with metal, there have been people willing to dig for a yellow or orange hunk of rock. Mining has been around for a long time and is likely to be around well into the future. I would love to say that because of the terrible effects mining has on the environment, we could just forget about copper, or coal, or iron, but we can’t. Our world runs on copper, electricity, and plumbing, and it doesn’t seem as though a better alternative has been discovered quite yet. Solar power comes close but isn’t quite developed yet. That being said, we should take what LeCain says into account. We need to recognize and take responsibility for the adverse effects that we cause. We can’t just use a band-aid to solve problems, the band-aid will always fall off in the end.

2 thoughts on ““Rub some dirt on it, that will fix it for sure””

  1. I agree with your take on how technology is meant to make life easier, and that it is also used as an immediate solution to the problems it has also caused. It’s seemingly a feedback loop. We invent things to further humankind, but that leads to degrading the environment, so we invent solutions to that degradation to continue furthering humankind. Extraction of metal through the process of mining is a good example of this; I agree that as much as we know about the unforgiving affects it has, we can’t stop using it. The harsh truth is that we DO run on copper for almost everything tangible we own, and there’s no convincing alternative seen for our future yet. I also agree that we should recognize and take responsibility for the effects we cause, but that would inevitably mean to stop the unstoppable: mining copper. And as long as we have those band-aids, we will replace the band-aids when they fall off.

  2. I think you have a really wonderful point and a balanced understanding of each side. I like that you called it a band-aid fix. That is exactly what these are. I understand and can relate to where you are torn. It’s hard to find a balance. You want to help the environment and make a difference, but in order to find those solutions we need copper and coal to run labs. I understand your frustration. It is especially hard because these are issues not everyone agrees with so trying to find solutions can be faced with opposition. I agree that these issues not to be covered with more than just band-aids that cause larger and more pervasive issues.

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