Too cool for school

April 8, 2016
The ‘Chevron festival gardens’ are part of big minings cultural influence in Perth.

"Cool fuel" was the groovy title of the Ed! supplement about natural gas in the April 5 edition of The West Australian that gets distributed to all our schools.

To be sure natural gas is "cool" when liquefied. But nowhere among the topics covered, such as "Careers in LNG", "Power to You" and "West is best" is there any mention of natural gas as a significant contributor to catastrophic global warming. Nor does it mention that because of fugitive emissions in the production cycle natural gas is up there with coal as a carbon polluter.

The closest it gets to acknowledging global warming is when it waxes lyrical about gas being the "cleanest burning hydrocarbon". Then comes this pearl of wisdom: "Natural gas is basically everything we want in a fuel, apart from the fact that it's a non-renewable energy source."

Outraged climate change campaigners contacted the editor to protest this gas industry promotion masquerading as science education. When they asked that the paper explain the real contribution of gas to climate change they were told that this could only happen if it were "unbiased".

The brainwashing doesn't stop there. This puff piece coincides with a big gas industry conference in Perth this month called LNG 18. Coinciding with the school holidays there will be a whole program of interactive natural gas exhibits around town, facilitated by Scitech and sponsored by the state government and City of Perth.

It is particularly disappointing that Scitech, the not-for-profit science education organisation, has let itself be used as a gas industry prop in this way. But they are not alone.

So many of our educational institutions, arts festivals and not-for-profit organisations are dependent on sponsorship from the mining or offshore oil and gas companies that people think of this as a good thing. How nice of BHP, Woodside, Rio Tinto, Chevron and FMG to throw us a few crumbs from the super profits they make from exploiting the resources that we should collectively own! They act like the lord of the manor throwing pennies in the dirt for the grateful peasants.

What about taxing these companies like we should be doing and using the revenues to fund things without their interference? Such elementary democracy is revolutionary subversion in Western Australia.

Karl Marx observed that the dominant ideology in any society is the ideology of its ruling class. But being the dominant ideology doesn't make it the only ideology. We need to build a movement that can break the power of the fossil fuel corporations that are threatening to destroy every ecosystem on the planet. We need to promote our ideology: that another world is possible. We need our media to do it. Green Left Weekly is part of that counter-power and rest assured, we don't get any donations from oil or gas companies.

Readers can support us in this mission by donating to the GLW Fighting Fund on the toll-free line 1800 634 206 (within Australia). Donations can also be made to Green Left Weekly, Commonwealth Bank, BSB 062-006, Account no. 00901992. Otherwise please donate online, or send a cheque or money order to PO Box 394, Broadway NSW 2007.

[Sam Wainwright is a Socialist Alliance councillor on Fremantle Council.]

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