The reputation of Nevada as a major producer of gold and silver is a well-known fact already. The state is not called the Silver State for nothing. What are new here are the many negative impacts this reputation to the environment of the state and its consequences.
The extensive mining of gold and silver causes disruption in the environment that has effects that could last a long time. The conversion of land, the vast usage of water, and deforestation mining has brought to the state is very alarming (Solnit, 2004). In order to produce gold, large chunks of land is dug up for ores. But then, to yield an ounce of gold, a hundred tons of ore is needed. Imagine how much land will have to be dug up and pulverized to mine the gold Nevada is producing.
Therefore, mining gold disrupts the habitat of the different species that live in the places that are dug up. It also affects the agriculture of the state. Mining does not improve soil conditions, it actually worsens it. So, if the soil is not suitable for farming, the food that the farmers will produce will also be affected. This consequence directly affects the people living in the state, since food is essential for living.
This activity also destroys groundwater which is an essential source of drinking water. According to Solnit (2004) mines pumps out groundwater during mining, but this water is discarded. Thus, groundwater dug up is not used but its sources are dried up. Also, water in gold-rush districts is being contaminated by gold. Some are being directed to other waterways. This effect to groundwater will surely result in scarcity. And humans again are directly affected. What is there to drink if the waters have went out of the state and the people are left with the contaminated ones?
Indeed, the gold and silver reserves of Nevada are good sources of income for the state and the whole country. However, the government still has to guard their courses of action about this matter. If the environment becomes completely destroyed it will affect its people greatly.
Solnit, Rebecca (2004). Meanwhile Back at the Ranch:The Wild, Wild Wars in the West. ZNet: A community of people committed to social change. Retrieved February 1, 2008, from http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?ItemID=6017
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