Friday, September 30, 2011

Abuse of language

Language is used and abused to pursue particular interests. An appreciation that was reinforced for me recently when I read of plans to use 'waste' to make resin pellets to fire power plants in South Australia. The 'waste' is the pulp that will no longer go to the Tantanoola Pulp Mill (Tantanoola is being closed because it is too 'small' in a global context. Small is beautiful is not something that industry embraces.) Woodchipping started with a plan to utilize the 'waste' from logging, now forests are clearfelled and only a small proportion of the timber is actually cut into timber, most is chipped and pulped. Woodchipping spearheaded the industrializaton of logging based on 'waste', and resin pellet will continue this trend, all in the name of being green, all in the name of utilizing 'waste'. Words just slide around.

The other recent notable abuse that I came across was the statements made by Queensland State Mining Minister Stirling Hinchcliffe that fracking is a 'very small' part of coal seam gas extraction. He's right. Here's what he actually said: "The scientific advice I have is that fracking is at the moment a very small part of what's required as part of oil and gas operations here in Queensland." The scientific is a nice touch. Fracking does not have much to do with science; it is a mining operation. Using 'scientific' lends support, though. But the key is what Stirling has not said. It is what he left out. Fracking is a small part 'at the moment'. It's about 5% but that's for now; in the future fracking proportions will grow. The industry is being coy about it, and reading between the lines about 30% of mines will eventually be fracked. And my guess is that it will be much higher. It is early days in CSG extraction so not much fracking is required to extact the gas. A point the minister conveniently did not mention.

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