Where is the evidence for "fossil fuel"?

Leon Carter made this Freedom of Information request to Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority

Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority did not have the information requested.

From: Leon Carter

Delivered

To the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority,

1) On what basis do we teach children that hydrocarbons are derived from fossils?
2) Why do we teach children an explanation that violates the 2nd law of thermodynamics?
http://www.pnas.org/content/99/17/10976....
3) Why is a faith-based magical explanation for the origin of hydrocarbons taught under the banner of science in our schools today?

Or as Richard Dawkins, former Oxford professor for the Public Understanding of Science, once asked, "Where is the evidence for that?"

Regards,
Leon Carter

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From: Matheson, Peter
Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority


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Dear Leon

 

Thanks for your email (below). Your query has been passed onto me because
you have designated your request as a Freedom of Information request.

 

Before I formally respond to the content of your email, I would like to
address the form of your request and our processes.

 

As you can imagine when developing the Australian Curriculum, ACARA
receives many queries about curriculum content. Normally, these kinds of
queries would be answered by a representative from the relevant learning
area in Curriculum, in this case Science. This approach can be beneficial,
as it can allow for an informal exchange of information via email.

 

The disadvantage of using an FOI request process is that the process
becomes more formalised (and, from our perspective, more resource
intensive given the associated statutory requirements). What you are
asking for under FOI are any documents that address your question. ACARA
would be obliged to respond formally. This may or may not provide you with
the answers that you are seeking, depending on whether ACARA can identify
documents that address your query. 

 

When I read your email, it struck me that we may be able to satisfy your
request through simply providing an answer to your question, rather than
going through the FOI request process. I am wondering whether you might
agree to proceed this way, noting that at any time you can ask that this
become an FOI request. Would you be interested in adopting this approach
first?

 

Regards

Peter

 

Peter Matheson

Board Secretary, Office of the CEO

 

Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority
Level 10 | 255 Pitt Street | SYDNEY | NSW | 2000
Phone: +612 8098 3116

[mobile number]
Email: [1][email address]

 

Please consider the environment before printing this email

 

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__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

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From: Leon Carter

Delivered

Dear Peter Matheson,

Thankyou for the invitation for a less formal and potentially more fruitful exchange in response to my FOI request.

I would indeed prefer the kind of informal process you describe, which could amount to simply having someone point me to (i) the relevant section/s (ii) in any (not all) texts and/or media endorsed/recommended/required for use in Australian courses/classes by ACARA (iii) documenting any physical evidence in support of the biological theory for terrestrial hydrocarbon origins.

If the answer doesn't turn out to be quite that simple (the precise question was harder than I expected), an informal exchange would provide the opportunity to present my evidence-based case for a change to the curriculum, so that life can be shown to come from petroleum--but not vice-versa:
http://living-petrol.blogspot.com/ncr

With regard to my question on thermodynamic constraints imposed on the transformation of biological molecules into hydrocarbons other than methane, I think that due to the complexity involved in explaining the problem to the general public (a complexity evident in the extremely rigorous and detailed paper I referenced with my question), I will waive any obligation for ACARA to attempt an answer. If a relevant representative does wish to try to overcome the constraints involved in pushing dead stuff uphill without an an energy source (and perhaps submit the paper to PNAS!), the phrase "reducing conditions in the sediments" cannot be deemed sufficient, unless steps for reproducing those conditions in a laboratory are included in the explanation (just as the instructions for reproducing the conditions for non-biological production of petroleum in a laboratory (from rock and water at high pressure/temp) were included in the PNAS paper).

I appreciate and agree to the offer of an informal exchange with a relevant representative, waiving/or suspending the obligations and procedures required under FOI. I look forward to a reply that is in the spirit of FOI rather than its strict terms, also within a casual timeframe more generous than those terms - 60-90 days rather than 30 is fine by me.

Thanks & Regards,

Leon Carter

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Leon Carter left an annotation ()

Folks,

I'm not sure I've categorized this correctly. ACARA suggested a less formal exchange in response to my questions. I replied that I am happy to accept an exchange in the spirit of FOI rather than its strict terms.
However, I would prefer the exchange to occur via RightToKnow rather than by private email/post.

Tips or advice appreciated.

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From: Matheson, Peter
Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority


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Dear Leon

 

Thanks for your email reply (below) and willingness to go down a more
informal path (I hope to a mutual benefit). I have forwarded your email to
the relevant officer in the Curriculum unit. They will be in contact with
you shortly, possibly through our general correspondence email address
([1][email address]) which is used to track queries.

 

In the meantime, I am treating your initial FOI request as now being
withdrawn. As set out in my earlier email, you can at any time make
another FOI request.

 

I hope your query can be satisfactorily resolved.

 

Kind regards

Peter

 

Peter Matheson

Board Secretary, Office of the CEO

 

Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority
Level 10 | 255 Pitt Street | SYDNEY | NSW | 2000
Phone: +612 8098 3116

[mobile number]
Email: [2][email address]

 

Please consider the environment before printing this email

 

[3]Description: cid:image001.jpg@01CE3B5A.486FB960

 

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

From: Leon Carter <[4][FOI #305 email]>
Date: 21 July 2013 6:19:32 PM AEST
To: "Matheson, Peter" <[5][email address]>
Subject: Re: Possible FOI - Leon Carter - Right to Know website - Fossil
Fuels query - F13/565-6

    Dear Peter Matheson,

    Thankyou for the invitation for a less formal and potentially more
    fruitful exchange in response to my FOI request.

    I would indeed prefer the kind of informal process you describe,
    which could amount to simply having someone point me to (i) the
    relevant section/s (ii) in any (not all) texts and/or media
    endorsed/recommended/required for use in Australian courses/classes
    by ACARA (iii) documenting any physical evidence in support of the
    biological theory for terrestrial hydrocarbon origins.

    If the answer doesn't turn out to be quite that simple (the precise
    question was harder than I expected), an informal exchange would
    provide the opportunity to present my evidence-based case for a
    change to the curriculum, so that life can be shown to come from
    petroleum--but not vice-versa:
    [6]http://living-petrol.blogspot.com/ncr

    With regard to my question on thermodynamic constraints imposed on
    the transformation of biological molecules into hydrocarbons other
    than methane, I think that due to the complexity involved in
    explaining the problem to the general public (a complexity evident
    in the extremely rigorous and detailed paper I referenced with my
    question), I will waive any obligation for ACARA to attempt an
    answer. If a relevant representative does wish to try to overcome
    the constraints involved in pushing dead stuff uphill without an an
    energy source (and perhaps submit the paper to PNAS!), the phrase
    "reducing conditions in the sediments" cannot be deemed sufficient,
    unless steps for reproducing those conditions in a laboratory are
    included in the explanation (just as the instructions for
    reproducing the conditions for non-biological production of
    petroleum in a laboratory (from rock and water at high
    pressure/temp) were included in the PNAS paper).

    I appreciate and agree to the offer of an informal exchange with a
    relevant representative, waiving/or suspending the obligations and
    procedures required under FOI. I look forward to a reply that is in
    the spirit of FOI rather than its strict terms, also within a
    casual timeframe more generous than those terms - 60-90 days rather
    than 30 is fine by me.

    Thanks & Regards,

    Leon Carter

    

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From: info@acara.edu.au
Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority


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Dear Mr Carter,

 

Thank you for your query of 21 July regarding the use of the phrase
“fossil fuels” in the Australian Curriculum: Science. I apologise for the
delay in responding.

 

In the context of the Australian Curriculum: Science, the phrase “fossil
fuel” occurs in the senior secondary Chemistry and Earth and Environmental
Science subjects, and is used to describe fuels such as coal, oil and
natural gas. This is in accordance with the use of the term across the
broader scientific community. There is no reference in the curriculum to
the formation of “fossil fuels”.  The Australian Curriculum can be viewed
at [1]www.australiancurriculum.edu.au .

 

It is important that curriculum uses language and terminology that has
clear meaning and relevance for the broader community and echoes the
language currently used across the discipline. To this end, we employ
broad consultation mechanisms and engage a range of experts to critique
the curriculum content prior to publication. We acknowledge, and the
curriculum encourages students to appreciate, that science knowledge is
contested and changes over time. 

 

You requested that we provide “the (i) the relevant section/s (ii) in any
(not all) texts and/or media endorsed/recommended/required for use in
Australian courses/classes by ACARA (iii) documenting any physical
evidence in support of the biological theory for terrestrial hydrocarbon
origins.” Recommendation of the information you have requested is beyond
the scope of the work of the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and
Reporting Authority (ACARA). ACARA develops curriculum for use by state
and territory education authorities and does not endorse or specify any
materials for use by schools.

 

Thank you for sharing developments in science knowledge and understanding
with ACARA. We appreciate your interest in the Australian Curriculum and
will monitor the broader use of the phrase “fossil fuels” with interest.

 

Regards,

 

Marianne Taylor

Communications Officer

 

Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority
Level 10 | 255 Pitt Street | SYDNEY | NSW | 2000
Phone: +612 8098 3126

Email: [2][email address]

 

Please consider the environment before printing this email

 

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From: Leon Carter <[4][FOI #305 email]>
Date: 21 July 2013 6:19:32 PM AEST
To: "Matheson, Peter" <[5][email address]>
Subject: Re: Possible FOI - Leon Carter - Right to Know website - Fossil
Fuels query - F13/565-6

    Dear Peter Matheson,

    Thankyou for the invitation for a less formal and potentially more
    fruitful exchange in response to my FOI request.

    I would indeed prefer the kind of informal process you describe,
    which could amount to simply having someone point me to (i) the
    relevant section/s (ii) in any (not all) texts and/or media
    endorsed/recommended/required for use in Australian courses/classes
    by ACARA (iii) documenting any physical evidence in support of the
    biological theory for terrestrial hydrocarbon origins.

    If the answer doesn't turn out to be quite that simple (the precise
    question was harder than I expected), an informal exchange would
    provide the opportunity to present my evidence-based case for a
    change to the curriculum, so that life can be shown to come from
    petroleum--but not vice-versa:
    [6]http://living-petrol.blogspot.com/ncr

    With regard to my question on thermodynamic constraints imposed on
    the transformation of biological molecules into hydrocarbons other
    than methane, I think that due to the complexity involved in
    explaining the problem to the general public (a complexity evident
    in the extremely rigorous and detailed paper I referenced with my
    question), I will waive any obligation for ACARA to attempt an
    answer. If a relevant representative does wish to try to overcome
    the constraints involved in pushing dead stuff uphill without an an
    energy source (and perhaps submit the paper to PNAS!), the phrase
    "reducing conditions in the sediments" cannot be deemed sufficient,
    unless steps for reproducing those conditions in a laboratory are
    included in the explanation (just as the instructions for
    reproducing the conditions for non-biological production of
    petroleum in a laboratory (from rock and water at high
    pressure/temp) were included in the PNAS paper).

    I appreciate and agree to the offer of an informal exchange with a
    relevant representative, waiving/or suspending the obligations and
    procedures required under FOI. I look forward to a reply that is in
    the spirit of FOI rather than its strict terms, also within a
    casual timeframe more generous than those terms - 60-90 days rather
    than 30 is fine by me.

    Thanks & Regards,

    Leon Carter

    

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Anyone:
Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority only: