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$31bn mining magnate Gina Rinehart tells students climate change is ‘propaganda’

·4-min read
Image of Gina Rinehart in white
Australia's richest person, Gina Rinehart, built her wealth on iron ore mining. (Source: Getty)

“I’m grateful that I had a real education, not one based on propaganda, but facts, and rationale.”

“Please be very careful about information spread on [an] emotional basis, or tied to money, or egos, or power-seekers, and always search for the facts.”

These were some of the things that Australia’s richest woman, Gina Rinehart, told students from her former high school in an assembly last month.

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Rinehart used a video speech celebrating 125 years of St Hilda’s Anglican School to rail against the “propaganda” of climate change, urging students to “do their own independent research” where climate change was concerned.

Rinehart, who is the heiress and executive chairman of Hancock Prospecting, a mining company founded by her father, has built her riches on iron ore extraction.

According to Forbes, Rinehart’s net worth is $30.92 billion.

Around two thirds (65 per cent) of green house gas emissions come from carbon dioxide, that is, fossil fuel and industrial processes, according to the IPCC.

During her time at the Perth school, Rinehart said she had the benefit of learning the “natural influences on our climate” such as the distance between the earth and the sun which creates the four seasons, volcanoes, and “other scientific facts”.

“I continue to believe that facts and rationale should provide the basis for education, it concerns me greatly that the current generation of school leavers and attendees, too often miss such important basics,” she said.

She told students that global warming came before “increases in carbon”, questioned why taxpayer dollars were being spent on reducing carbon, and suggested that the earth had survived several ice ages and stages of global warming.

A major report from the IPCC recently declared that global warming, heatwaves and more were “clearly linked to human influence”.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres described the IPCC’s report as a “code red for humanity”, and said “irrefutable” evidence of emissions from burning fossil fuels and deforestation were placing billions of people at “immediate risk”.

Only a global effort on climate action would save the world from a “climate catastrophe,” he added.

An analysis piece from CarbonBrief also stated: “Since 1850, almost all the long-term warming can be explained by greenhouse gas emissions and other human activities.”

Rinehart said she hoped the school would “strongly guard against propaganda intruding on real education and rational thinking”.

(Source: St Hildas)
St Hilda's Anglican School for Girls is a private primary and secondary school for girls based in Perth. (Source: St Hilda's)

The mining magnate claimed she had heard that students under a previous headmistress had to watch former US Vice President Al Gore’s film ‘An Inconvenient Truth’.

“Catchy title, but sadly short on delivery as far as truth is concerned,” she said, adding that the film used “lots of emotional things” to “stir or frighten people”.

“Please be very careful about information spread on emotional basis, or tied to money, or egos, or power-seekers, and always search for the facts,” Rinehart said.

“Even if the tide is against you, and it’s not considered popular. Facts may not be popular, but that shouldn’t mean they should be overlooked.”

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 06:  Gina Rinehart at the Furphy Marquee on Melbourne Cup Day at Flemington Racecourse on November 6, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia.  (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)
Gina Rinehart. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

For several years, scientists have been as sure that humans have caused the planet to change for the worse as they are that smoking causes cancer.

"The science linking human activities to climate change is analogous to the science linking smoking to lung and cardiovascular diseases," the American Association for the Advancement of Science said in a 2014 report.

137 countries have committed to a net zero target of some kind, with most countries committed to a 2050 target.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg gave a recent speech that marked a notable shift in the Coalition’s rhetoric around climate change, with the Treasurer stating that Australia could not be viewed as a laggard in the shift away from fossil fuels.

“Australia has a lot at stake,” he said. “We cannot run the risk that markets falsely assume we are not transitioning in line with the rest of the world.”

Australia has a “goal” to reach net zero by 2050 but has no concrete roadmap of how to get there.

But even this 2050 net zero goal is becoming “quite dated”, climate advocates have said.

“It is no longer credible to only put forward a net zero by 2050 pathway,” Australia Institute Climate and Energy Program’s Richie Merzian told Sky News.

“Everyone is starting to become impatient with Australia given it hasn’t updated its efforts over seven years now since it originally announced its target ahead of Paris and nothing more has been put on the table.”

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