Necessary evil: a review of Boom, Bust, Boom

  • A tour guide holds out a sample of copper ore during a tour of the mill building in Kennecott, Alaska, site of the historic Kennecott Copper Mine.

    Ethan Welty/TandemStock.com
 

Boom, Bust, Boom: A Story About Copper, The Metal That Runs The World
Bill Carter
274 pages, hardcover: $26.
Scribner, 2012.

Arizona is known for the five C's -- cattle, cotton, climate, citrus and the king of them all, copper. Bill Carter's book Boom, Bust, Boom: A Story About Copper, the Metal that Runs the World is more than just an academic foray into the complexities of global copper supply and demand. As copper mining threatens to resume near his home in Bisbee, Ariz., Carter's concern for his family's welfare grows. Bisbee, from the turn of the century through the mid-1970s, was the "Queen of the Copper Camps," until all mining operations ceased in 1975. Now a thriving alternative culture community, Bisbee still bears the scars of its copper mining heyday, including soils tainted by fallout from the smelter used to melt copper ore. Carter's personal experience with arsenic poisoning from vegetables he grew in his own yard is the impetus behind his investigation.

This well-researched narrative describes how copper is found in all corners of the world and every facet of our lives. The author journeys to towns in Arizona and Alaska where the specter of new copper mining has drawn battle lines between people who are concerned about the loss of beloved landscapes and those interested in boosting the local economy.

Most notably, Carter highlights the controversial Pebble Mine proposal in Alaska, whose waste could taint Lake Iliamna and harm the world's largest sockeye salmon fishery. Carter's own experience with commercial salmon fishing in this area, as told in his 2008 book Red Summer: The Danger, Madness, and Exaltation of Salmon Fishing in a Remote Alaskan Village, makes this potential mining disaster even more poignant.

Boom, Bust, Boom is written like a good documentary, exposing the author's struggle to find answers through his own personal journey. "By leaving Bisbee, I am conceding that my wife, kids, and I need more than what the town can offer, and what it can't offer, which is a promise the mine won't reopen." Through Carter's eyes, we are reminded of our inextricable link to this landscape-altering resource -- and the consequences of our dependence.

High Country News Classifieds
  • DEVELOPMENT COORDINATOR
    Western Resource Advocates (WRA) seeks a friendly, detail-oriented, and self-motivated Development Coordinator to provide administrative support to the Development department. This position will report to...
  • FIELD ORGANIZER, MONTANA
    Help Northern Plains Resource Council protect Montana's water quality, family farms and ranches, & unique quality of life. Work hard, meet good people, make the...
  • FOR SALE
    Successful llama trekking business with Yellowstone National Park concession for sale! A fun and enriching business opportunity of a lifetime! Call 406-580-5954
  • ALBUQUERQUE VACATION HOME
    Centrally located. One bed, one bath, lovely outdoor patio, well-stocked kitchen.
  • NEW AGRARIAN PROGRAM DIRECTOR
    Quivira (www.quiviracoaltion.org), a Santa Fe-based nonprofit that aims to shift current practices of agriculture and land stewardship to those that produce good food, support meaningful...
  • SPECTACULAR SCENIC MOUNTAIN VIEW HOME BUILDING SITE
    Located on top of Sugarloaf Mtn. 5 mi W of downtown Colorado Springs, CO. $80,000.
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    opportunity in Eugene, Oregon! To learn more and to apply, visit our website at www.bufordpark.org.
  • FUNDRAISING & OUTREACH COORDINATOR
    Does the prospect of working to protect one of the Southwest's last remaining flowing rivers get you excited? Join the team at Friends of the...
  • DIGITAL ENGAGEMENT SPECIALIST
    Position Summary Western Resource Advocates (WRA) seeks a dynamic, organized, and creative Digital Engagement Specialist to be an essential part of our growing Communications Team....
  • NORTH IDAHO FIELD REPRESENTATIVE
    Founded by sportsmen and women 1936, the Idaho Wildlife Federation (IWF) is a statewide nonprofit dedicated to conserving and enhancing Idaho's natural resources, wildlife, habitat,...
  • SMALL HISTORICAL FARM FOR SALE - NEW MEXICO
    23-acres, adobe home, shop, barn, gardens, pasture, orchard. https://www.zillow.com/homes/222-Calle-Del-Norte,-Monticello,-Nm_rb/ or call 575-743-0135.
  • NEW MEXICO GILA NATIONAL FOREST HORSE RANCH
    43 acres in the Gila National Forest. Horse facility, custom home. Year round outdoor living. REDUCED to: $1.17 MM 575-536-3109
  • GRANTS MANAGER AND EDITOR
    Are you a strong communicator who excels at building relationships, writing winning grant proposals, and staying organized? You sound like a good fit for our...
  • REPORTER
    The Wallowa County Chieftain, has an opening for a reporter. Experience with and understanding of editorial photography also required. Journalism degree or equivalent, an understanding...
  • 2017 JOHN DEERE LAWN MOWER Z930R
    15 hours on it, 3 years warranty, 22,5 HP, $1600 Sale price. Contact: [email protected]
  • OWN YOUR OWN CANYON - 1400 SF STRAW-BALE ECO-HOME ON 80 ACRES - 3 HOURS FROM L.A.
    1400 sf of habitable space in a custom-designed eco-home created and completed by a published L.A. architect in 1997-99. Nestled within its own 80-acre mountain...
  • HEAD BREAD/PASTRY BAKER AND ASSISTANT POSITIONS
    Hiring Part/Full time for Summer Season - entry level & experienced positions. Year round employment for optimal candidates. Pay DOE.
  • EVERLAND MOUNTAIN RETREAT
    Everland Mountain Retreat includes 318 mountaintop acres with a 3,200 square foot lodge and two smaller homes. Endless vistas of the Appalachian mountains, open skies,...
  • COUNTRY ESTATE NEAR KINGS CANYON AND SEQUOIA PARKS
    Spectacular views of snowcapped Sierras. 15 miles from Kings Canyon/Sequoia Parks. 47 acres with 2 homes/75' pool/gym/patios/gardens. 1670 sq.ft. main home has 3 bdrm/1 bath....
  • GILA NATIONAL FOREST NEW MEXICO
    Beautiful off-the-grid passive solar near the CDT. 9.4 acres, north of Silver City. Sam, 575.388.1921