Techno-Nixes Revisited

LeCain argues that techno-fixes, specifically those of the three varieties he describes, fail to fully resolve environmental problems. Rather, they serve to remove the problem from the immediate concern of those primarily involved, and transfer it to individuals of another location or time. Transformational techno-fixes “solve” the immediate issues with specific substances like sulfur dioxide gas or arsenic, but often do so by converting them into fertilizers or other agricultural products which can be equally harmful. Thus, the problem has been passed along for others to deal with. Relocational techno-fixes have the benefit of removing a harmful substance from the location it’s been affecting, but this only serves to hurt the environment in a different setting, again passing along the problem. Delaying techno-fixes have no real benefits at all, they simply delay having to actually solve a problem by setting it aside for future generations to handle.

In light of this analysis, it may seem like the only real solution is to cease mining entirely, however that poses serious problems of its own. This nation and others are essentially powered by the technology mined materials create. An end to mining would result in a serious blow to the society we have created over the past hundred years and more. While mining certainly produces waste, it also produces valuable ores which we have become dependent upon. In light of this, it seems that we have been forced into continuing to mine simply by nature of the lives we live, and therefore the only real solution is to find a way to either protect the environment from that waste or try to mine without producing any at all. With that in mind, I believe that LeCain’s argument for cautiously refining techno-fixes until they actually work is a perfectly sound one.