Geo-logic: breaking ground between philosophy and the earth by Robert Frodeman

By Robert Frodeman

Seeks to redraw the limits among the fields of geology and environmental philosophy.

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The pH of the upper Animas is in many cases low enough to cause aquatic life to be deformed or die. A low pH also allows the heavy metals to stay in solution, causing the high concentrations of metals in the water—killing more aquatic life. The metals themselves have a wide variety of effects upon the streams. Zinc, copper, and cadmium pass into the water column and kill fish through their toxicity. Aluminum and iron settle on the stream bottom and disrupt the physical habitat of bottom-dwelling creatures (such as stone flies and caddis flies) that the fish depend upon, by filling in the spaces in the streambed where the creatures breed.

In 1991 the Colorado Water Quality Control Division (a different group from the WQCC; part of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the CDPHE) started collecting water quality data in the upper Animas, a program it continued through 1993. ”11 One might surmise that the hammer of the Clean Water Act also played a role in the decision to monitor the streams. Acid Mine Philosophy 29 In 1991, however, the slow grind of the bureaucratic machinery surrounding the Clean Water Act began to intersect with a second set of events.

Aristotle emphasizes the importance of distinguishing between arguments to and arguments from first principles. We don’t reason our way to the conclusion that inflicting gratuitous pain upon children is evil; rather, we begin from the intuition that this is wrong, and seek an account of ethics that explains it. Any ethics trying to demonstrate the reasonableness of torturing toddlers would strike us as more than a little mad. Intuition may seem a weak reed upon which to base our environmental claims, but we all begin our thinking with one intuition or another.

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