My topic is on the egocentrism of mining. I will be defending the position for a more ecocentric approach towards mining. By examining the anthropocentrism that is mining and the type of mining and how it affects the natural world.
Around the second half of the of the 20th century, the world began to go through devastating changes in the environment. The air began to become filthy, species were beginning to die at record numbers. People started to notice these impacts and began questioning the human responsibility that has occurred within the environment.
New perspectives were beginning to develop that has formed new categories of environmental ethics. Egocentrism has developed as one of these previous perspectives. Egocentrism focuses on the interest of all species and natural features of Earths ecosystem, it refuses to place any aspect or species above the others. Ecocentrists place an intrinsic value on all entities in their own right while acknowledging their instrumental value as part of the natural process.
Ecocentric stands as a polar opposition to anthropocentric views that place human wants and needs as the most valuable and important than all other natural entities. Philosophers assert that all things have inherent value. The value of a rock or a tree is not judged as simply as the ways humans use it. Instead, they value the role it plays in the natural world. To understand how anthropocentric mining is, the process in which it is conducted can be examined to understand how little it concerns the natural environment.
Is the value for the environment worth destroying it for short-term gain? How do we assume what each mineral is worth? Is it simply by placing it within our cultures economics and
how we use it? Or does the natural environment have a value of its own, regardless of what humans use them for? There are two basic sides to this debate. The first is how some say that humans have greater morality over anything else on earth. This justifies their use of the environment to pursue a better life. The other side argues that all things contain inherent and equal value even if that nonliving. It is an entirely different way of measuring the value for the natural world. More often than not, mining occurs within a wilderness area. How I understand what a wilderness to be is an area that has minimal disruption by humans. Disruption so minimal that it appears natural. I believe humans can live within wilderness areas, as we did naturally come from the wilderness. However, if they are able to live there, they have to belong like every other being by causing the minimalist amount of damage thats only necessary for survival. Wilderness is an area t of land that has no roads, building, and artificial structures. Its a natural environment free from for native plants and species to evolve.
Mining for minerals is the basis for human life. It is so important for human success, its hard to exaggerate its significances. Major periods of human history are named after their accordances with the dominate mineral products at the time. Humanity has relied on Earths minerals to sustain its civilization through the growth of population, the speed of transportation, and the proliferation of technologies. There are many forms of mining depending on which resource is being extracted. However, there are three categories of environmental damage that mining because they include, mining for the minerals, refining, and disposal.
Starting with mining for minerals, there are many ways to extract minerals such as open pit mining. Open pit mining is a form of excavating from a large open pit, this is one of the most
common forms of mining for minerals. This type of extraction is particularly destructive to the environment as much of the minerals searched for an open-pit mining are typically in small
concentrations, which makes the amount of ore mined increased in order to find the desired mineral. Environmental hazards are present during every step of this process. This process involves a large-scale movement of rock, soil, and vegetation. When the material is moved it exposes radioactive elements, asbestos-like minerals, and dust. This process is basically digging a giant hole which creates a large footprint. The anthropocentrism in open mining is very apparent. Digging a massive hole does not consider the implications of the environment. Pit mining completely devastates that area that usually resides within a wilderness area. The area is partly ruined for many years as the groundwater is contaminated by chemicals, deforestation and habitat loss are some of the major factors towards the environment. This process does value the land ethic; it completely disregards the land by gouging a hole in it. A loss of forest from subsequent mining operations completely disrupts the soil. The displaced topsoil is eroded or transported away which leaves the area that was once an open pit, unfit for any trees to grow. Areas that suffer from erosion linger long after the mining has concluded. Away the groundwater is depleted is when the area is deforested, the trees would break the fall of rain which helped in allowing the soil to absorb the water. It would seep down into the soil to recharge the reservoirs or rivers. Its simply less forest it means less groundwater can be recharged and is lost in runoff. Also, open pit mining pumps groundwater from reservoirs at a faster rate than they can get recharged. When an old pristine forest is cut, the plants and species that use that land disappear and are completely different species than the ones that grow on empty land. Often times it can
take decades or centuries for the previously rich and diverse biodiversity to return. Refining minerals process are typically just as harmful to the environment as mining itself. Extracting the minerals expose these contaminants, refining isolates and concentrates the waste. The process of refining also uses harsh chemicals like cyanide to separate the minerals for
the waste rock. This has implications for the environment by changing the soil and water chemistry. An example of this is a fish can only live in water within a certain pH range, and some plants only flower within a certain pH. Earth elements tend to contain a wide range of different metals including aluminum, arsenic, copper, lead, and zinc. These are some of the most hazardous metals found on with Earth mines that are separated from ore during the refining process. These metals are near mine sites are found in the air, the water, and the soil. Metals can only react to different compounds in the environment, they cant be destroyed, which means they stay within the ecosystem for a very long time. This allows the metals to accumulate at dangerous levels.
Finally, with the dispose process of the mining. After extracting the minerals and refining them there is the dispose methods. This process is generally categorized as the most damaging to the environment because the waste tends to be composed of small finely milled particles which can be easily absorbed by water or blow in the air and can travel for miles.
Not only does mining affect the natural world but it greatly affects the humans that conduct in the operation. Miners can be killed or injured by roof and tunnel collapses. Working in a mine causes long-lasting health problems. Miners are continuously exposed to dust, toxic chemicals, airborne particles, and heavy metals. Communities around mines can suffer from
health issues like the miners themselves. Communities living close to mining can suffer from birth defects and higher rates of respiratory and kidney problems. Groundwater contaminated from the mines have increased arsenic levels that lead to cardiovascular diseases.
To sum what mining is, it pollutes the Earths water, soil, and air. It is a golden example of Anthropogenic practices. It only benefits humans by exploiting the environment. The belief in egocentrism means that humans have to respect the environment for its own sake. It cannot simply make justifications in harmful practices by claiming it benefits humans. Egocentrism contends with humans relentless drive towards the domination over nature. Human cultures over-consumption and over-exploitation of the natural environment has led to global degradation. We need to respect the nature of its own sake as well as our own. We cannot be silent towards unsustainable mass anthropogenic practices. Egocentrism can lead to a more sustainable future. A future where humans yet born and enjoy the same nature we get to today. This way of thinking can help us find by encouraging a sense of wonder about the world around us. I fear that a massive event global event like mass extinctions, or a large natural disaster will have to take place before we make an effort to change.
The attitude of anthropogenic practices toward nature is the one that needs to adopt the most. Because a nonliving and living thing have inherent have inherent value and this is the only way to treat beings as an autonomous center of life. Most western thought has been rooted by an anthropocentric viewpoint. Despite some progress on environmental fronts, it is still very apparently clear that an anthropocentric worldview will continue and it will result in our planets natural environment will fade away. However, mining for fossil fuels, minerals, precious metals, and other valued resources will always take part in modern life. It will always be part of the economy. New modern technologies are being used to mitigate impacts. Trying to stop mining will be impossible because it makes the human’s world spin but to have an appreciation for what the world provides needs to increases. The well being for the non- human life needs to have a value as well as the human life. This value is independent of any instrumental purposes.