Science World is coming to Squamish as part of a B.C. government liquefied natural gas tour, and the pairing of the educational giant with the controversial LNG industry is raising eyebrows.
The Regional LNG Energy Seminars coming to Squamish Dec. 16-17 will include provincial government, industry and post-secondary representatives who will answer questions about the liquefied natural gas (LNG) and jobs in the sector, according to the province of B.C. website advertising the events.
There will also be an LNG-Buy B.C. boot camp – with information on how local businesses can access the liquefied natural gas supply chain – and science-based energy demonstrations by Science World.
The seminars, which began in Prince George in October, are set in seven communities with an interest in LNG, including Fort St. John and Terrace.
On the province of B.C. website, the Science World logo figures prominently.
According to Science World, this tour is the first time the organization is participating in seminars with the provincial government on a specific issue.
This juxtaposition has some concerned.
“I have grave reservations about Science World’s agreeing to participate in the B.C. government’s LNG promotional tour. I regard it as demeaning both to science and to the hard-earned reputation of Science World,” said Eoin Finn, who is a member of MySeatoSky, which is opposed to the proposed Woodfibre LNG plant planned for Squamish. He also has a PhD in physical chemistry.
Finn told The Squamish Chief he was absolutely shocked that Science World was involved in the government LNG seminars that are geared towards teens and young adults.
“Science World was set up to teach children and to interest children in science, not to be used as a pawn of industry,” Finn said.
“It is what won’t be said that would trouble me, and that is that a balanced view of LNG would clearly demonstrate what I and a whole bunch of other people have said about large-scale LNG plants, especially close to water, they are very dangerous,” he said.
The president of Science World acknowledged the decision to participate in the tour came with some soul-searching within the not-for-profit organization.
“When the government first approached us, we debated long and hard about the reputation we do enjoy and would it be in danger at all through this participation, and clearly that is one of the possibilities, however on the other hand, the obligation we believe we have to chat with residents of B.C. about science and technology overcomes that,” Bryan Tisdall, Science World president and CEO, said in an interview.
He said Science World representatives at the seminars are talking about energy more broadly: what it is, why it is important in people’s lives and where it comes from, including how it is extracted.
“We say quite explicitly that we are not here to support the government’s program or any of these suppliers or businesses that you may see around the room,” Tisdall said.
For Finn, that assertion by Science World is not enough.
“If [Science World] is going to do science and demonstrate the scientific effects of LNG and Woodfibre, then do it the proper way, don’t do it showing up with a dog and pony circus to give impression to residents of Squamish that this stuff is fairly safe and won’t degrade the environment,” Finn said.
For more information on the seminars, go to engage.gov.bc.ca/lnginbc/.