Australia’s richest person, Gina Rinehart, has used a message to school students to peddle long-discredited claims that global warming is not real and said suggestions otherwise is merely “propaganda” pushed by those with vested interests.
In a bizarre recorded message to students at Perth’s St Hilda’s Anglican School for Girls – the school Rinehart herself attended – Rinehart warns students to be aware of the “propaganda” they may be taught at school – citing climate change as the key culprit.
The video was recorded last month as part of a 125th anniversary event for the school, and was addressed to the school’s students.
While Rinehart spends the first quarter of the video reflecting on her and her family’s connections with the school – the rest of the video turns into a disjointed rant about climate change, the media and her love of former UK prime minister Margaret Thatcher.
Rinehart spends much of the 16-minute long video complaining that students are not taught the widely debunked claims of climate change deniers, and describes climate science as propaganda.
The ABC has reported that only a portion of the video was actually shown to students, with much of the rant edited out of the version played at the anniversary celebration.
Rinehart, who has amassed wealth of more than $35 billion, mostly from mining, and sought to warn the students to be aware of messages delivered by those motivated by money or egos.
“Rationale should ask, why does the media in general and those they influence now call for reducing carbon? More questions spring to mind. Please be very careful about information spread on an emotional basis, or tied to money, or egos or power seekers,” Rinehart said.
“It concerns me greatly, that the current generation of school leavers and attendees, too often miss such important basics. As too often propaganda erodes these critical foundations.”
Rinehart is the owner of Hancock Prospecting, which has interests in coal projects in Queensland’s Galilee Basin, and has plans to massively expand the company’s coal operations overseas.
In the video, Rinehart reveals that she organised for infamous climate change deniers, the UK’s Lord Monckton and Australia’s Ian Plimer, to speak to students in an effort to undermine the messages contained in former US vice-president Al Gore’s 2006 film An Inconvenient Truth.
“So I brought Lord Monckton and Professor Ian Plimer to address senior students and hopefully take away some of the emotional fear that was being spread around by such film and speeches,” Rinehart said.
“If I may ask a question for students to ask their teachers and do their own independent research. And that is, which comes first, global warming, or an increase in carbon?”
In the latest IPCC summary of climate change science, the world’s climate scientists say that “it is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land.”
Despite this, Rinehart trotted out many of the old, discredited, arguments perpetuated by climate change deniers – including that observed global warming has been caused by natural phenomena.
Throughout the video, Rinehart includes slides that appear to question both climate change and medical science, including one that just says “medicine, should it be scientifically and factually based or politically based?”
They are messages that hark back to the prior decades of misinformation around the causes of climate change.
“Not so easy to find facts at times these days, not helped when the government supports grants towards one side of the argument, making it less beneficial to consider the natural influences on our climate,” Rinehart said.
“Distance from the Sun as the Earth orbits, which we should know influences summers and winters, volcanoes, including the many that erupt under the ocean, and other scientific facts that I had the benefit of learning when I was at school.”
“Indeed, importantly, as we are overwhelmed by media and propaganda today, that the earth lived through many ice ages and global warming’s pre man even being on this planet. Hence that multi global warming and ice ages are not caused by man.”
The video provides insight into the extent of Rinehart’s views, and the views of someone known to be a significant funder of climate change denial in Australia and overseas.
Rinehart has poured millions into groups like the Institute of Public Affairs, as well as making significant financial contributions to the Liberal-National coalition.
Rinehart also has links with members of the Morrison government, including deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce, attorney general Michaelia Cash and former resources minister Matt Canavan.
Nationals members have already gone in to bat for the resources industry, calling for a $250 billion loan facility to be established to underwrite new mining projects unable to secure private investment.
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