May 26, 2008
Death ... a screenshot from the Planet Slayer website after admitting to heavy CO2 production / ABC
AN ABC website has been accused of portraying farmers and forestry workers as evil and telling kids how much carbon they can produce before they die.
The Planet Slayer website, which can be accessed via the science section on the ABC home page, also demonises people who eat meat and those involved in the nuclear industry, a Senate estimates committee heard.
The site has several features including a cartoon series, Adventures of Greena, and a tool called Prof Schpinkee's Greenhouse Calculator to help kids work out their carbon footprint.
The calculator lets users compare their own carbon output to the "average Aussie greenhouse pig" and estimates at what age a person should die so they don't use more than their fair share of the Earth's resources.
Too much carbon production causes a cartoon pig to explode, leaving behind a pool of blood.
Victorian Liberal senator Mitch Fifield today questioned the accuracy and appropriateness of some of the imagery and content on the website.
"I know there's a little bit of goth in all of us, but this might be taking it just a little too far," Senator Fifield said of the quasi life-expectancy calculator.
"Do you think it's appropriate that the ABC portray the average Australian as a pig and is it appropriate for a website obviously geared towards kids to depict people who are average Australians as massive overweight ugly pigs, oozing slime from their mouths, and then to have these pigs blow up in a mass of blood and guts?"
Senator Fifield said the Adventures of Greena cartoon series, which follows the exploits of a young female activist, also raised questions.
He said episode two of the 12-part series, Fistful Of Woodchips, portrayed a logger as "rough and evil".
"I don't think that it's a particularly helpful way of depicting hard-working Australians who are trying to go about making an honest living, as though they're these rough and evil dudes out to do bad."
Senator Fifield said other episodes in the series portrayed people who eat meat, those involved in the nuclear industry and farmers who grow GM crops as evil.
"I'm not sure if it's helpful to portray struggling farmers who are looking at GM technology to help them improve their yield in a period of drought as some sort of evil promoters of (these) products."
ABC managing director Mark Scott said the site was not designed to offend certain quarters of the community but to engage children in environmental issues.
"The site has been developed to appeal to children and its been done in an irreverent way... to make it engaging," Mr Scott said.
"It's not an attempt to write public policy... it's an attempt to educate school students on the impact of the modern Western lifestyle on carbon emissions and the whole issue that we are dealing with."
Mr Scott said the ABC would review the content on the site.
Planet Slayer – Abc.net.au/science/planetslayer