The Newfoundland and Labrador Oil & Gas Industries Association (Noia) is putting off its annual Oil and Gas Week in the province Feb. 23-27.
The write-up on the Noia website notes that “the weeklong celebration was developed to raise the profile of the oil & gas industry in Newfoundland & Labrador…through a variety of events and educational activities.”
These events include public lectures, a forum on careers in the oil industry, and even an “Industry Achievements Awards Gala” at the Sheraton Hotel, something akin to the Oscars for NL oil magnates. The week also includes educational initiatives aimed at junior high students, which offers a $1,000 grant for projects which encourage students to take up careers in oil. Another such component is the “Inspiring Young Minds” Educator’s Award, which offers a cash prize for teachers who have “inspired” students to pursue careers in oil.
Oil and Gas Week is sponsored by private industry and business, but also through public funds from Nalcor and College of the North Atlantic.
For anyone concerned about climate change, this is a kick in the teeth. It goes without saying that anthropogenic (human caused) climate change will not be the subject of any of the events, and that the words climate change will not be the focus of the educational opportunities proffered to children.
Moreover, even if you believe there needs to be a “balanced” and “reasonable” approach to climate change and for transitioning to a post carbon world, the unrepentant celebration of oil and the underlying premise of its long-term viability in NL is about as unbalanced and unreasonable as possible.
People concerned about climate change, those people the federal government ridiculously calls the “anti-petroleum movement,” are required to plea and beg and vigorously understand “both sides” of the argument, while the oil industry rubs it in their faces and indoctrinates children.
When the industry holds celebratory events like Oil and Gas Week, and when our provincial government engages in blatant climate change hypocrisy, it gives credence to those arguments saying the time for reasonable debate is over. Nothing fuels radical environmentalism so much as this uneven playing field and double-standard.
Looking in the mirror
It says something, as well, that Noia (or more specifically the PR agencies they employ) feel that something like Oil and Gas Week is appropriate within the NL social milieu. It says something that Noia thinks it is appropriate to promote the oil industry in the schools and encourage pro-industry curriculum.
It says that the association representing the oil industry in the province has gauged public perception and deemed this an effective strategy for generating social license and fostering the appearance of corporate responsibility. Groups like Noia simply do not create PR events without serious study and analysis of such strategies for maintaining and expanding the oil industry.
What it really says, then, that Noia organizes a significant annual event like Oil and Gas Week, is that they believe the people of Newfoundland and Labrador do not care about climate change and won’t make a fuss.
And that is the fault of no one but ourselves.
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