My world is one filled with pragmatism, optimism and blue-sky approaches. I aspire to live in a world where our activities are in balance with nature, economic prosperity and where we all can live together in peace and good health – very idealistic!
Defining who I am today!
I was born in a mining town in Queensland but spent most of my childhood in a small country town on the outskirts of Perth. My childhood was spent outdoors, barefoot and care free – climbing trees, crawling through fields of lupins, wading through ponds catching tadpoles, throwing mulberries at my siblings or holding on for dear life as my bolting horse was heading for home. It was simply a natural progression of that lifestyle to go on and study the environmental sciences.
In between study I travelled extensively, and fell in love with the United States and its people. I continue to dream, plan and imagine a life of constant travel to the amazing natural wonders of our planet.
Upon starting my first professional job, Dr Bob Teasdale – a mentor, friend and an inspiration to those wanting to succeed in the sciences – challenged and supported me to be the best at whatever I put my mind to, including optimising my workload for him. All these years later, we continue to stay in contact.
My formal studies ended with a Ph.D. at the end of my name and a postdoctoral position within the prestigious Chicago Botanic Garden’s Institute for Plant Conservation. While in Chicago, I was inspired by two individuals, Dr Kayri Havens and Peggy Olwell who were both on a quest to educate the next generation of conservation scientists and develop initiatives to study and save an ever-increasing list of endangered plant species (nothing cute or cuddly about these species!). Kay and Peggy have the most difficult jobs in the world, yet they and their network of professionals continue on that quest with complete and utter devotion and commitment.
I have since returned to my beloved country with my two Yankee sons and an incredibly supportive and loving partner, Marcello.
Upon reflection, my experiences over the past twenty or so years of working have been diverse and colourful. While there is still much work to be done, the achievements to date could only have been accomplished by the influence of those mentioned here and many others from my past. Who I am has been shaped by those I have been fortunate to have met along the way (not to mention genetics, environment and education).
I now find myself working within the mining industry, where my life started. This is quite a contrast from my past experiences, but one that I am passionate about. I am pragmatic – we all require mining to sustain our way of life. I enjoy a challenge – the challenges of working as an environmental professional within a mining company can provide great personal satisfaction. And one of the greatest challenges is to build a culture of responsible environmental stewardship within the remote and biodiverse areas in which mining operations in Western Australia occur.
We’re still finding new species in many locations as a result of the incredible quantity of work conducted during the formal environmental impact assessment. These new species have been undiscovered for over 300 years since Europeans began documenting the species they found. It is such an honour and privilege to be finding new species yet the general mining population lacks appreciation for the environment in which they are working. One of my long-term goals is to influence this culture within the broader mining industry.
Looking Forward – A Suggested Approach
Looking forward, the impacts of climate change and nature’s response now shows signs of impacting us personally, economically and in the way we do business. Those that addressed sustainability in the past using the triple bottom line approach often gave environment a low weighting, and it’s consideration was often a ‘nice to have but not necessary’ (as one banker once told me during a corporate risk workshop). Any company that now takes this approach will experience financial implications in the future. In my view, and from a mining perspective, the following approach needs to be considered by every mining company to ensure the sustainability of its business:
- A strategy outlining how the company aims to become carbon neutral by 20xx.
- Provision of a R&D budget to develop energy efficient mining operations.
- Be responsible and take leadership in influencing personnel that extends beyond the mine and into households – build an environmental culture that addresses attitudes and behaviour.
- Environmental considerations now need to go beyond compliance.
I believe this does not require a huge budget and is applicable to all mining companies no matter the size. In the long term, following this approach can provide companies with a competitive advantage and financial savings.
My first blog has 1) described who I am and my background, 2) outlined my role in the mining industry, and 3) listed ideas for the future of mining in light of the effects of climate change. Future blogs will continue around these themes.
Until my next Blog, goodbye from a pragmatic tree-hugger (literally!)