The BC Liberal government’s all-out push to build an LNG industry is extending into the province’s classrooms and the minds of its students. The latest partner in this effort, Science World, is co-hosting a series of community seminars in rural communities to educate students “about the fundamentals of energy science.”
Alongside presentations by Science World, an October government media advisory promises:
[quote]…young people will be able to talk with government and industry representatives and take part in Find Your Fit, an interactive event where grades 6-to-10 students get hands on experience with the skills needed for in demand jobs throughout the province.[/quote]
Science World CEO defends “neutral” program
On CBC radio’s Daybreak North last month, Science World CEO Bryan Tisdall deflected concerns about the controversy surrounding the LNG industry and its environmental and social impacts. Said Tisdall, “Our shows will be quite neutral and they will be based on the belief that order to be able to make those decisions, to address those very challenging questions that are in front of us, the residents of the province need to have a basic level of knowledge about what is energy – where does it come from?”
But the events Science World is partnering in can hardly be construed as “neutral” or strictly science-focused. They’re clearly designed to promote the industry to youth through big job promises – a message with which Tisdall appears to be fully on board, noting:
[quote]There will be the opportunity not only to learn more about the science of energy generally – and more specifically about LNG – but careers that might be involved in that…all the trades and professions that will be essential for the future energy industry in the province.[/quote]
LNG policy creeps into classrooms
This development is merely the latest example of the troubling creep of the government’s energy agenda and the oil and gas industry’s influence into BC’s classrooms.
From the massive shifting of post-secondary education funding away from academia towards “skills training” for the LNG industry to Chevron’s controversial attempt to donate $200,000 to the Vancouver School Board, BC’s youth are increasingly being targeted to advance oil and gas development.
It’s not just post-secondary students who will be encouraged to abandon dreams of social work or nursing careers for LNG training. Clark has acknowledged this focus on trades must extend to high school students as well.
A recent example was the student delegation the government brought to its global LNG summit earlier this year, wooing high schoolers with promises of jobs in the trades.
Even the kid-friendly BC Lions have been roped into this sales pitch – partnering in the government’s “Skills for Life” program, along with Petronas’ Pacific Northwest LNG project.
These Science World community sessions are reaching even younger students with this pro-LNG message – some as young as elementary school.
Let’s talk about science…really
Mr. Tsidall’s Science World is supposed to be in the science business. So here’s some of the science that’s missing from their seminars.
How about estimates that suggest even a modest number of LNG plants could more than double the entire carbon footprint of the province? Or does Science World not concern itself with climate science?
How about the science of fugitive methane emissions – 86 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than CO2 over a 20-year period – that stem from shale gas (a.k.a: fracking)? Or the geology that tells us BC’s LNG industry would be fed by a massive increase in fracking.
Or the science of tens of billions of litres of fresh water being removed from the hydrological cycle and contaminated with a cocktail of chemicals – some of them known carcinogens?
Or the science of earthquakes caused by fracking?
These are all fascinating topics, surely of interest to inquiring young minds. If Science World wanted to engage with youth on the subject, they could do it independently of the government and let our youth weigh the jobs they’re being promised against a full picture of the negative impacts of this industry. As it stands, Science World is allowing itself to be used as the lackey huckster of the government’s Kool-Aid.
Speaking of jobs, how many of these students will actually see employment in the industry while company after company backs out? While the very BC government making these promises signs deals with China and India to import foreign temporary workers to build LNG infrastructure at cheaper wages…
Is this LNG program about providing kids with opportunities – or about using kids to get to their parents, the voters who elected this Liberal government on an LNG platform that is disintegrating beneath its feet?
If the Liberal government wishes to continue hawking the Kool-Aid of its failing LNG industry, that’s its prerogative – but to Mr. Tisdall and Ms. Clark, I say: Leave the kids out of it.