A little vitriol for the weekend

March 28, 2008 at 4:02 pm Leave a comment

I knew this would happen. I knew it! I’m only on page 14, as well!

I’m sure I’ve told you countless times about the issue of the Independent I saw in a newsagent’s last year sometime. The Independent newspaper, for non-British readers, had (or maybe has, I haven’t read it in a while) a deliberate policy of being hard-hitting with the climate change news, and frequently had headlines such as, ‘We’re all dooooooomed!!’ or, ‘The polar bears are all going to die!!!’ or, ‘Our raving incompetent politicians have failed us again and the planet is going to become one big desert!!!’

Leaving aside the reasons why this approach isn’t the best one to take in any case (the Transition Towns Handbook, as quoted in a review here, sums it up rather well):

“Environmentalists have often been guilty of presenting people with a mental image of the world’s least desirable holiday destination – some seedy bed and breakfast near Torquay, with nylon sheets, cold tea and soggy toast – and expecting them to get excited about the prospect of NOT going there. The logic and the psychology are all wrong.”

I was further struck by the utter incongruity of the advert at the top of one of these copies of the Independent, which had a headline about, I think, how at the very least 80% cuts in emissions were needed:

Free inside: 16-page motoring supplement.

Huh? What? Motoring? In cars? Running on petrol? Pumping CO2 out into the atmosphere?

Yes, Mr Newspaper, man. Very consistent.

Anyway, I generally esteem the Guardian more highly than the Independent, and, to their credit, they do seem to take climate change and ‘ethical living’ seriously and, further to their credit, they have also progressed beyond the ‘shout louder and louder about the numbers and see if anyone listens this time’ approach. But, having only got to page 14 of the Climate Change supplement from last Sunday’s Observer Magazine, I have seen adverts for:

  • MacBook Air
  • No7 for men products
  • Golf GT Sport
  • some swanky shoes
  • Sony flat-screen TV
  • Chrysler 300C

and there’s an advert for a Lexus on the next page. They’re not even pretending. No ‘This car is pretending to be green,’ and no ‘This computer is really energy efficient.’ Just bare-faced advertising for more, energy-consuming stuff, slapped onto the page opposite an article about how great life would be if we cycled more. Mixed messages? Missing the point? I mean, I know they have to make money so they can publish this stuff, but if they’re going to tell us we need to change our expectations and aspirations, shouldn’t they be setting an example? Making it easy for us?

I feel like the last bastion of sanity in the mainstream media has let me down.

I’m going to email them immediately. Who’s with me?

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Entry filed under: empty corporate rhetoric.

Few things Goods 4 Girls

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The Heritage Crafts Network

Rob Hopkins, Transition Handbook

“Environmentalists have often been guilty of presenting people with a mental image of the world’s least desirable holiday destination – some seedy bed and breakfast near Torquay, with nylon sheets, cold tea and soggy toast – and expecting them to get excited about the prospect of NOT going there. The logic and the psychology are all wrong.”

Barbara Kingsolver, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

"Food is that rare moral arena in which the ethical choice is generally the one more likely to make you groan with pleasure."

Carlo Petrini

"A gastronome who is not also an environmentalist is an idiot. An environmentalist who is not also a gastronome is, well, sad."

Sharon Astyk

"I am, of course, firmly opposed to consumerism and corporatism in all its forms, and I believe that we are deeply confused about material needs and wants. Now let me explain how books and yarn are totally different than the material things that other people want ;-)…."

Raj Patel, at Slow Food Nation

"Biofuels, which is the preposterous policy that we should grow food not to eat it but to set it on fire."

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