Schoolchildren Asked To Celebrate Fossil Fuels And Mining On Earth Day

Written by Ryan Koronowski

Earth Day is April 22, and today is the last day children in Utah can send in their submissions for the state-sponsored Earth Day poster contest lauding fossil fuel production.

This year’s theme is “Where Would WE Be Without Oil, Gas & Mining?

Last year’s theme was “How Do YOU Use Oil, Gas, and Mining?”

The contest is literally made possible by fossil fuel interests. This year’s sponsors include the Salt Lake Petroleum Section of the Society of Petroleum Engineers and the Utah Division of Oil, Gas & Mining. Last year’s sponsor list was longer, including Arch Coal, Anadarko Petroleum, and Rio Tinto/Kennecott Utah Copper.

Any child in Utah between Kindergarten and sixth grade is eligible. The contest’s primary objective is “to improve students’ and the public’s awareness of the important role that oil, gas, and mining play in our everyday lives.” Last year’s contest winners made posters that detailed how dependent we have become on fossil fuels. To their credit, the grand prize winner detailed both ways we use products created by fossil fuels and ways we can reduce our consumption.

The children were not asked to make posters about the climate impacts caused by those same fossil fuels: drought, wildfires, and warmer winters.

Some parents are not happy, as this letter to the editor by Colby Poulson makes clear:

Why is the state backing an “Earth Day” contest that celebrates fossil fuels, while completely ignoring the adverse effects that their use and extraction can too often have on our air quality, water quality, public lands and the other organisms we share the world with? Shouldn’t Earth Day be about championing things that can help reverse the negative impact of our dependence on fossil fuels?

Frankly, I’m disgusted that the state is backing propaganda like this in our schools.

Why allow a contest like this to run two years in a row? The state could be taking its cues from its Congressional delegation, one of whom runs the House Science subcommittee and denies the reality of human-caused climate change. Or its state legislature, which in 2010 adopted a resolution doubting the reality of climate change.

Perhaps they missed the Salt Lake Tribune‘s editorial, “A killing climate: Global warming unchecked,” or those Utah scientists who reported:

Based on extensive scientific research, there is very high confidence that human-generated increases in greenhouse gas concentrations are responsible for most of the global warming observed during the past 50 years. It is very unlikely that natural climate variations alone, such as changes in the brightness of the sun or carbon dioxide emissions from volcanoes, have produced this recent warming. …

Utah is projected to warm more than the average for the entire globe and the expected consequences of this warming are fewer frost days, longer growing seasons, and more heat waves.

Appropriately, the winners of the Earth Day poster contest will be notified on April Fool’s Day.

This post was originally published by Climate Progress.



Myriam G.
Myriam G4 years ago

I agree with Emma D.
I'm sure quite a few kids will send a poster of a beautiful community with healthy citizens thriving on orgainc foods from local farming, with lots of bike paths, public transports running on alternate energies, lots of gardens and green spaces, and say "See? This IS Where We Might Be Without Oil, Gas & Mining"
Sure, it's idealistic, but I have a soft spot for idealist, Earth-oriented kids. They give me such hope.

E. J.
Past Member 4 years ago

Wow, key messaging our children is horrifying. It's what will finally kill the world, the reason for the demise of MANKIND. That's the message they should get. Parents must take action, and band together so children don't hear this twisted key messaging. We need to change, or die.

Monica D.
Monica D4 years ago

The world needs to move away from fossil fuels, and switch to renewable energy - quickly.

Aud Nordby
Aud nordby4 years ago


Christine W.
Christine W4 years ago

Thanks for sharing.

mitchell dawes
mitchell dawes4 years ago


Samir Nassir
Past Member 4 years ago

Noted, thanks.

Carole B.
Carole R4 years ago

Oh dear. :0(

Eternal Gardener
Eternal G4 years ago

How irresponsible and skewed is that? Unforgivable!!!