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Abstract

The failures of the California Cerro Gordo mine stemmed from several factors, all of which resulted from the rejection of a human labor network. The intricacies of Cerro Gordo’s history of abandonment however, boil down to the warring relationship between man and the environment. To explain the probability of the environment impacting humanity, historian Richard White wrote that “wave, water, and wind,” or movement of the environment, “- and human labor- can be represented in ways beyond the immediacy of actual experience. We can abstract them to a single entity: energy.” In Cerro Gordo, energy was substantiated in two forms: human labor and the natural movement of the environment. What is striking is that despite the establishment of a functioning and intergraded labor network in Cerro Gordo, the environment won between the warring energies. If we begin the analysis further back in time, before Cerro Gordo’s discovery, a close study of this one short-lived settlement can complicate our historical understanding of human energy, environmental energy and their unremitting simultaneous exchange on our planet.

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