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Environmentalism and natural aggregate mining

Natural Resources Research

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Abstract

Sustaining a developed economy and expanding a developing one require the use of large volumes of natural aggregate. Almost all human activity (commercial, recreational, or leisure) is transacted in or on facilities constructed from natural aggregate. In our urban and suburban worlds, we are almost totally dependent on supplies of water collected behind dams and transported through aqueducts made from concrete. Natural aggregate is essential to the facilities that produce energy-hydroelectric dams and coal-fired powerplants. Ironically, the utility created for mankind by the use of natural aggregate is rarely compared favorably with the environmental impacts of mining it. Instead, the empty quarries and pits are seen as large negative environmental consequences. At the root of this disassociation is the philosophy of environmentalism, which flavors our perceptions of the excavation, processing, and distribution of natural aggregate. The two end-member ideas in this philosophy are ecocentrism and anthropocentrism. Ecocentrism takes the position that the natural world is a organism whose arteries are the rivers-their flow must not be altered. The soil is another vital organ and must not be covered with concrete and asphalt. The motto of the ecocentrist is "man must live more lightly on the land." The anthropocentrist wants clean water and air and an uncluttered landscape for human use. Mining is allowed and even encouraged, but dust and noise from quarry and pit operations must be minimized. The large volume of truck traffic is viewed as a real menace to human life and should be regulated and isolated. The environmental problems that the producers of natural aggregate (crushed stone and sand and gravel) face today are mostly difficult social and political concerns associated with the large holes dug in the ground and the large volume of heavy truck traffic associated with quarry and pit operations. These concerns have increased in recent years as society's demand for living space has encroached on the sites of production; in other words, the act of production has engendered condemnation. Many other environmental problems that are associated with dust and noise and blasting from quarry and pit operations have been reduced through the efficient use of technology. Recycling concrete in buildings, bridges, and roads and asphaltic pavements will ultimately reduce the demand for virgin natural aggregate. The impact created by the large holes in the ground required for the mining of natural aggregate can be greatly reduced by planning their reclamation before mining begins. ?? 2002 International Association for Mathematical Geology.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Environmentalism and natural aggregate mining
Series title:
Natural Resources Research
Volume
11
Issue:
1
Year Published:
2002
Language:
English
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
Larger Work Title:
Natural Resources Research
First page:
19
Last page:
28