Go-To Resources on Environmental Ethics

By Page on October 19, 2007 at 9:11 am


We are super thankful to Erin Patinkin for organizing the below reading list of studies/essays addressing environmental ethics & mining issues. Erin did an awesome job of selecting work that isn’t at the top of your Google search. Thank you Erin! For additional resources & information, please visit our links page.

Armstrong, Susan, Richard G Botzler. Environmental Ethics: Divergence and Convergence. New York: McGraw Hill, 2004.
This anthology, edited by a professor of wild-life science and a professor of philosophy, offers the most current and comprehensive collection on the topic of environmental ethics available today. It surveys diverse approaches to environmental ethics by leading writers from a variety of disciplines, and provides an historical survey of thought on our responsibility to the environment. The perspectives are represented by their most articulate spokespersons and are accompanied by appraisals of their respective strengths and weaknesses. Chapter introductions, headnotes, discussion questions, and annotated bibliographies are provided. Twenty eight of the 64 articles are new. The new edition deletes those articles with which students had difficulty because they were hard to read and substitutes newer or better-written articles. All chapter introductions were revised to reflect changes in the field. New topics include biodiversity, ecological restoration, environmental justice, and genetic engineering. A new section in the appendix on conflict resolution was requested by students. –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

“Artminers Win at World Bank’s Development Marketplace Oregon NGO offers alternative to mercury for gold mining.”
Artminers.org Institute for Sutainable Mining. Article on-line. Available at http://www.artminers.org/artminers/world.html


Crosby, Alfred W. Ecological Imperialism: The Biological Expansion of Europe, 900- 1900: Studies in Environment and
History. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004.
People of European descent form the bulk of the population in most of the temperate zones of the world–North America, Australia and New Zealand. The military successes of European imperialism are easy to explain because in many cases they were achieved by using firearms against spears. Alfred Crosby, however, explains that the Europeans’ displacement and replacement of the native peoples in the temperate zones was more a matter of biology than of military conquest. Now in a new edition with a new preface, Crosby revisits his classic work and again evaluates the ecological reasons for European expansion. Alfred W. Crosby is the author of the widely popular and ground-breaking books,The Measure of Reality (Cambridge, 1996), and America’s Forgotten Pandemic (Cambridge, 1990). His books have received the Ralph Waldo Emerson Prize, the Medical Writers Association Prize and been named by the Los Angeles Times as among the best books of the year. He taught at the University of Texas, Austin for over 20 years.


Danowitz, Jane and Richard Wiles. “Mining Our Treasures An 1872 Law Paves the Way for a Rush of Claims in the West”
Washington Post. August 27, 2007. Newspaper on-line. Available at: http://www.ewg.org/node/22489
Some 5 million Americans will visit the Grand Canyon this year, heeding the advice of Theodore Roosevelt to enjoy one of “the great sights, which every American, if he can travel at all, should see.” But while the canyon may be timeless, its surroundings are not. There’s a race afoot — within miles of the park’s majestic rim — to snatch up mining rights on public lands for extracting uranium, gold and other hard-rock metals. What’s worse, a 135-year-old federal law not only makes the practice legal but underwrites mining at taxpayer expense.


Kennedy, Danny. “Loosening the Golden Handcuffs: Why selling our gold reserves is fiscally sound and environmentally
correct.” Washington Monthly. July/August 2000. Journal on-line. Available at www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/2000/0007.kennedy.html
Picture yourself at the bottom of a pit the size of the Grand Canyon. Huge trucks rumble past taking 40-ton loads of rock to a mill. There, the rock is crushed into a fine powder, piled into a pyramid and sprayed with a cyanide solution–the same sort of poison that was used to kill people at San Quentin until the mid-1990s. The run-off is collected and strained for tiny flakes of gold–they are literally microscopic–and the mound of crushed earth is left there. A handful of men operate the machines, and the ore body of this mine will be depleted in a few years, forcing the company to move on to excavate another site. Welcome to the gold-mining industry–one of the most environmentally damaging and wasteful businesses in the world.


Klyza, Christopher. Who Controls Public Lands?: Mining, Forestry, and Grazing Policies, 1870-1990. The University of North
Carolina Press, 1996.
In this historical and comparative study, Christopher McGrory Klyza explores why land-management policies in mining, forestry, and grazing have followed different paths and explains why public-lands policy in general has remained virtually static over time. According to Klyza, understanding the different philosophies that gave rise to each policy regime is crucial to reforming public-lands policy in the future.

Klyza begins by delineating how prevailing policy philosophies over the course of the last century have shaped each of the three land-use patterns he discusses. In mining, the model was economic liberalism, which mandated privatization of public lands; in forestry, it was technocratic utilitarianism, which called for government ownership and management of land; and in grazing, it was interest-group liberalism, in which private interests determined government policy. Each of these philosophies held sway in the years during which policy for that particular resource was formed, says Klyza, and continues to animate it even today.


Kosich, Dorothy. “Tibet to require environmental protection deposits from mining companies.” Mineweb, July 25, 2007. Article on-
line. http://www.mineweb.net/mineweb/view/mineweb/en/page68?oid=24005&sn=Detail

Hilson Gavin. “Promoting sustainable development in Ghanaian small-scale gold mining operations.” Environmental Policy and
Management Group (EPMG), Imperial College Centre for Environmental Technology, Royal School of Mines, London, UK.
Available at: http://www.springerlink.com/content/e544d1vj1xnldhnx/
This paper provides an overview of the initiatives that have been undertaken by the Ghanaian government to promote more sustainable development in resident small-scale gold mining operations, and recommends a series of strategies for perpetuating a pattern of continued improvement. Since the passing of the lsquoSmall Scale Gold Mining Lawrsquo (PNDCL 218) in 1989, which effectively legalized small-scale gold mining as an industry in Ghana, the government, in particular, the Minerals Commission, has made a concerted effort to regularize operations, and to provide technical and financial support to miners. Under the auspices of the German non-profit Gesellschaft Technishe Zusannebarbeit (GTZ), a small-scale gold mining registration system has been implemented, district support centres for small miners have been constructed and the Precious Minerals Marketing Corporation (PMMC) has been created, which purchases products from small-scale miners at near-market prices. Careful analysis reveals, however, that these efforts have collectively only had a marginal impact, and that the industry is still in dire need of aid. Specifically, to perpetuate further a pattern of improved sustainability–improvements in both the socio-economic and environmental arenas–additional technical and financial support must be provided, and sound environmental management practices implemented. The Minerals Commission has been burdened with these tasks and challenges but because it is largely understaffed, it is highly unlikely that it will be able to facilitate sufficient improvement in the sector on its own. Nevertheless, marked improvements can be achieved if: (1) avenues for technological dissemination are created and improved; (2) research partnerships are forged with local universities; (3) experienced consultation is hired when needed; and (4) other governmental agencies, namely the Mines Department, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Geological Survey, provide the Minerals Commission assistance with prospecting, monitoring, regulation and environmental auditing activities.


Rajaram, Vasudevan, Subijoy Dutta, and Krishna Parameswaran. Sustainable Mining Practices. Abingdon: Taylor and Francis, 2005.
Describing the current status of mining practice in the Americas, Asia and Europe, Sustainable Mining Practices: A Global Perpective provides a definition of sustainable mining, and generally describes the international sustainable mining practices since 1992. It focuses on such issues as the large volume of waste generated during mining, mine closure planning, managing the environmental impacts of mining, land use planning, and energy use management. The exclusive specialty of this book is the detailed coverage of the sustainable mining systems and technologies that are currently used in developed countries. The book devotes special attention to mineland reclamation, with several examples of successful mineland reclamation and abandoned mineland reclamation in the US. It also addresses waste management issues, including tailings management, risk evaluation of facilities, waste rock disposal, acid mine drainage control, and hazardous waste management, with emphasis on maintenance wastes. The authors devote a chapter to Best Mining Practices for Sustainable Mining, with subchapters on small-scale mining, tailings pond management, and hazardous waste management. This chapter highlights practices that have been successful in the US, and practices that are being developed in India for controlling small-scale mining. The book concludes with a chapter presenting several case histories of sustainable mining practices in Asia, Africa, and the Americas-including sustainable exploration practices.


Whitmore, A. “The emperors new clothes: Sustainable mining?” Journal of Cleaner Production, Volume 14, Issue 3-4, 2006. A
significant portion of this text can be retrieved at,+A.+%E2%80%9CThe+emperors+new+clothes:+Sustainable+mining%3F%E2%80%9D+Journal+of+Cleaner+Production&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=2&gl=us&client=firefox-a
And at
Over the last few years, the idea of ‘sustainable mining’ has, thanks to industry sponsorship, been working its way into the agenda of many international processes. There is now a push in many countries to invite in multinational mining companies with the idea that there is a “new, sustainable mining” which is different from the old, bad practices of the past. Yet, what has actually changed in the industry to match this shift in rhetoric? From the perspective of mine-affected communities nothing seems to have changed. Their land is still being taken from them without giving their free, prior and informed consent, and they are suffering the same ill effects on their ways of life, health and environment. This paper will illustrate how under this rhetoric, the mining industry ‘emperor’ has the same old naked ambitions.


Lafaix, Phillipe. Law of the Jungle – French Guyana.
Available for free through Archive.org / open source

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