Dinosaurs get their facts wrong

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

5 Comments Posted

  1. Talking climate change may seem a negative experience, but if we talk also about the positive choices of action then we turn it into a potential positive experience of doing something useful. I got this link http://www.odt.co.nz/lifestyle/magazine/274769/are-you-ethical-consumer
    off a Consumer choice group link http://www.consciousconsumers.org.nz/

    This shows that people grow into conscious choices about these things so sowing seeds counts.
    They also have a blog underway for those with contributions to make.

    It also makes me very cynical about the oil industry spin at kids.
    Good on you Catherine for making people aware. We need to allow at least balanced presentations if we can’t scrap industry pressure.

    I smile as it looks like a new form of religion in schools for the Consumer God.

  2. Geothermal energy is one area we need geologists to help us exploit, both for electricity generation and for direct use.


  3. At the end of the day, the REASON there aren’t any other jobs for anyone apart from farmers or the extractive industries, is a COMPLETE mind-f*** interpretation of Ricardo’s comparative advantage. There is no balance in this country, there is no sanity in its governments, this one any that we had since we were Rogered.

    They can’t say anything about climate change, because if they do they immediately lose. The fact is that we have enough proven reserves to destroy our civilization. Drilling for more is not only a dumb idea, it is economic waste.

    We can’t fix it by being angry, we can only fix it by getting elected and starting a long process of educating the NZ population about what they ACTUALLY bought when they believed the line of bullc*** the smiling assassin is so good at casting before them. THAT means we have to work hard at this.

    The answer to bad speech is more speech but howcan we do a roadshow? How can we when the message we have to present is so astonishingly negative. I mean, seriously, I am ashamed to be in the same generation as the b*****ds. When I explain this to my kids I have to apologize to them, because I couldn’t stop the destruction of so much of what they deserve to be able to enjoy intact.

    Giving a presentation to a school class on climate change is one of the most depressing single things I ever did. The KIDS thanked me, and I was glad to be doing it, but I wasn’t glad of the truth I had to give them.

  4. “My response was still “what are you doing this for?””

    I can’t speak for any specific individual, but over time I’ve known many former graduates and post-graduates who’ve been through Geophysics and Geology. Many came out with substantial student loans.

    There’s lots of topical material (especially volcanoes and earthquakes and Antarctica and lots of fascinating outdoor field work) to get people interested, but after academia the main significant employer in New Zealand — GNS — most commonly hires from the international job market. Trying to get a job there will often involve competing with everyone overseas who really really wants to live in New Zealand. To actually get a job offer will often require a demonstraton of a lucritive list of international experience and contacts, meaning that if you haven’t studied overseas or been employed overseas, your chances are very limited.

    Aside from GNS, the oil/gas and mining industries are big employers. If you’re into that kind of science, and if you want to stay in New Zealand or be employed at all in a way which makes use of your qualifications and interests, that’s the industry that’ll actually give you a decent job. And, thanks to your expertise, chances are you’ll be focused on thinking about where to find resources and how to get them out of the ground efficiently, safely and with minimal direct effect. It shouldn’t be a surprise that these people are unlikely to rebel against those employers, or quit their jobs en-masse, if there’s no feasible alternative avenue of employment where they can utilise their skills.

    The government’s asked for businesses to share their knowledge, and this is an example of that happening. I’m skeptical of the lack of balance being presented from the corporate and marketing level, given the nature of this industry, but I don’t doubt the motivations of the individual people, scientists and engineers likely to be involved in actually doing it. Usually if you’re a scientist you want people (especially kids) to better understand science.

  5. As I at outside the Roadshow in Whanganui (with my sign reading “More fossil fuels – increased climate change”), I had some of the staff approaching me with their reactions – which included “I agree with you – but we have to transition away from coal.” and “It would help if we could change all of N.Z.’s car fleet to natural gas.” My response was still “what are you doing this for?” The reply was “we want to help children understand the science.” You mean all of it? – I don’t think so. Not a word about climate change!!!

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