Catherine Delahunty

Dinosaurs get their facts wrong

by Catherine Delahunty

Kids love dinosaurs.
So what better way to inspire their interest in the oil and gas industry than telling them that dinosaurs that once roamed the earth live on in the fuel in mummy and daddy’s car.
Except, that’s wrong. Almost all oil and gas is comprised from plant matter which decomposed millions of years before dinosaurs existed.
This is one of several scientific inaccuracies in an oil and gas industry roadshow touring Taranaki and Whanganui schools to ‘educate’ kids about the drilling off their coast.
The dinosaur theme is the lure they use to attract children to their propaganda on how great, safe and important it is to explore and drill for oil.
Sadly the Minister of Education is happy to allow this corporate incursion into schools with no requirement for balance.
Climate change does not even feature in the “educational experience” except as something that affected dinosaurs many years ago, while the science that is mentioned is often compltely wrong.
Here is an example: “Those dinosaurs that roamed Earth millions of years ago are now oil and gas. We get it out to put into your family car”.
These are the kinds of factual errors which annoyed Dr Mike Dickison, Whanganui Regional Museum Curator of Natural History, who highlighted the industry’s “cynical ploy” to attract kids in his local paper this week.
The show “was not an educational show at all,” Dr Dickison said, “but is entirely funded by the gas and oil industry to convince kids that drilling is safe and cool”.
The Green Party is astonished at the bias in this presentation and that it raises no concern at all from the Minister.
This highlights just how dangerous it is to allow businesses in to schools to talk to children about science or facts, when they’re motivated to be there by profit.
Outside organisations should be allowed in to talk to school children but the information they provide must be balanced and not spin or misinformation designed to recruit a new generation of customers.
The “What Lives Down Under” oil show is the work of the powerful oil and gas industry selling a dinosaur to communities via their children and pretending it is education.
Today Fairfax newspapers ran a headline quoting the US Secretary of State saying “Climate change ‘unequivocal”.
Primary school children will have to deal very directly with climate change and need an evidence based scientific education about this huge issue.

Instead they get dinosaurs promoting our possible extinction

Published in Education by Catherine Delahunty on Tue, February 18th, 2014   

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