Rare Earths in Context

Rare Earth Elements

Rare Earths in Context / Source : Technography (Click to view the full picture)

There is a current controversy in the Jungles of Malaysia – concerning an government approval to process Rare Earth Material extracted from Australia. The scare is real and its voice has gained sufficient momentum within the Malaysian voting public to sway policy deployment, and perhaps more disastrously – has embolden the masses to hold the government to ransom.

It is the opinion of the junglist that proper protest to address the real issue at hand has been sadly missed amongst the noise and boycott of reason which is what the current movement against the Australian Company in question – Lynas represents. The illogic that basic truths cannot not prevail over the emotions of an un-enlightened mob is but the reaping of the harvest from poorly sowed seeds.

Enlightenment as it seems, is no longer a choice in some societies- where change, prevented in times past from rearing its “ugly head”, becomes the one important criterion or truth with which the masses hold steadfast to for dear life and death, and rightly so.

The experience in the jungle suggest that government mechanism – once established and adopted – must not be allowed to be influenced by the whims of any group or people, save via the channels and processes of democracy and democratic norms established within that greater constituency. To allow such action would only perpetuate the practise of sowing the seeds of unsustainability once more.

Perhaps in the case of Lynas – what should be asked is how established democratic norms allowed such an approval to be sanctioned without being brought onto the forum of the mainstream. Surely, as part of the initial viability analysis, public opinion would have had to be considered. However, how likely is meaningful debate to be had with those who are perceived and intentionally kept as un-enlightened?

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Should or should we not pursue – HYDRAULIC FRACTURING

There is a current global controversy on whether we should pursue ‘fracking’ practices. Much of the opposition voice revolves around the fact that “fracking” or hydraulic fracturing  is a “stubborn” method of extraction, and that there is limited control in the process to prevent contamination of ground water sources – should (and likely would) process water be leaked into the surrounding formation.

From a technical standpoint, the efforts that go towards a fracking operation is as elegant as the industry would have it be. At the same time, its is understandable the process is perceived by the public as unrefined and, like all other extraction methods – is based on our relatively limited understanding of the science and mechanics of what lies below the ground (or sea for that matter).

The fact remains however – there has been long standing consideration and momentum invested by the Oil & Gas majors to address the impending end of traditional crude oil, and it is important to note that the collective decision to pursue fracking was taken on the back of alternative solutions to address the world’s energy problem.

With that in mind, it may be an less than effective strategy for proponents to stand against fracking  by arguing on the primitiveness of the extraction process itself, considering that so much thought and investment has already put into by the oil & gas majors. If this must be a tactical focus, efforts would be better made – exerting public pressure for greater collaboration and understudying between the industry and the associated sciences. This would also precipitate greater understanding and improvement of other resource extraction techniques.

Above all, and perhaps the more important question is – whether as a world we are able to wane ourselves from fossil fuels in order to be able to stop the momentum for the pursuit of alternative sources of gas.