Letter #1 2016

On 27 May 2016, at 9:27 AM, Flynn Malnic wrote:
To Natalie Sekulovska and the editors of Tharunka,

My name is Flynn, I am a second year Mining Engineering student and I must say, your May edition of Tharunka – the “environment issue” – disappoints me.

In it, the Environment Collective has wasted a valuable opportunity to discuss real environmental challenges facing our society, to shine a light for solutions and to promote the spirit of education we are surely all here for. How much better to use such opportunity to discuss and showcase solutions, rather than running a lopsided political rant.

Your writers appear highly misinformed about the resources sector and seem solely intent on promoting hysteria about the mining industry, coal seam gas and climate change.

You have rushed to join the current vogue of driving a wedge between Australia’s only two primary industries – agriculture and mining. They are in fact the world’s only two primary industries, and the two industries that have led to the ascent of our modern universe and rich society. And of course lesser miracles like Tharunka, and the materials that go into it.

Our lives are a synergy, we are codependent, we are a single civilization [sic] and yet you prefer to spin us into a false dichotomy – the good vs. bad. It is only the students who live in the humidicrib of university who think fossil fuels aren’t important. As much as we all want them, it is empty moral grandstanding for you to pretend alternatives will be affordable and effective any time soon. We will reach these alternatives through science but it is reckless to suggest alternatives are available now.

The search for energy alternatives should be boundless! Solutions need to be found and discussed. Take a look at Lockheed Martin’s nuclear fusion project promising to revolutionise energy – Google it. In MacPherson and Rice’s article about a dirty Australian mine being part of the Fukushima reactor disaster you condemned all nuclear power, one of the hopes for clean energy. The fault there was building the plant below the tsunami high water mark.

There are many other pressing and real problems that can be addressed today:

Eight millions tons of plastic are being dumped into the ocean every year. Continued use of agricultural land depletes soils of nutrients, which must be replenished from mining. Soil erosion from agriculture likely moves more material than mining. Yale Professor Brian Skinner once estimated eight mouthfuls of soil are lost for every five mouthfuls of food. Agriculture is the predominant destroyer of broad-acre natural environment.

The great wealth generated from the maps ‘point sources’ of mineral wealth can be applied to remediating the broad acre destruction we have achieved. We must work together and have every debate, instead of avoiding them as you do.

As our use of fossil fuels has increased, billions of people have been raised out of poverty, mortality rates have decreased globally and we have improved the quality of our lives unimaginably. This is all due to the low cost, efficient and reliable energy that is coal, gas and oil.

From your witless Fossil Free UNSW movement to Macpherson-Rice and Bell’s unscholarly article on the dangers of uranium to Donaldson’s self-contradicting article on coal seam gas, it is apparent the entire Environment Collective doesn’t care about the environment – it is merely looking for a fight, although safe from the possibility that real world opponents will be reading Tharunka for spiritual guidance on energy. The passion of your writers does not lie in the beauty of nature and the achievements of our species, but in tshe [sic] rebelliousness of civil unrest and self-loathing.

Here are the numbers:

Eighty percent of your articles rail against mining, coal seam gas or climate change.

None offered a solution. If you aren’t discussing solutions, you can only be the problem.

You are peddling fantasies that delude the campus population by saying we must stop coal mining to create alternative energy sources. If we stop mining, we import it from another country because we need energy.

Here is the key: open your magazine to people with solutions; search for writers who want to improve our planet. It might interrupt the sound of your own views resonating but why not run this letter in full, and ask for others. We are here in a place of learning – which also has a School of Mining Engineering – where people come to generate the solutions. We find the materials for solar and wind plants, for your bus ride, for your hypodermics and your printing press. Whatever energy solutions you want, we are still going to have to provide the materials for you. This is how our country helps the world.


Flynn Malnic

Part of the solution