The mustn’t-have 2007 Christmas gift is a ‘global-warming mug’ that shows the world slowly drowning under a one hundred metre sea level rise. This mug for mugs sums up many of the themes of this past years’ blog postings.
Let’s face it- this is an intriguing product. It is a map of the world when cold, but as soon as you fill it with hot water the poles start to shrink and low lying areas are lost to encroaching seas. You can see a video…
Cute? Well not really. No one would want a stocking filler that slowly revealed war zones, starving babies, or piles of bodies- and, to be honest, that is what I see when I see these coastlines retreat
Educational? No, not really. The figure of 100 metres was chosen by a graphic designer not a climate scientist. Even if all of Antarctica, Greenland ice sheet and the world’s glaciers melted it would still only add 80 metres to sea levels (more info…). This misinformation plays to a form of voyeuristic climate alarmism that the Institute of Public Policy Research calls ‘climate porn’ (see my posting…)
What is really interesting, though, is that the salespitch surrounding the mug on the novelty websites reflects many of the wider currents of public opinion that I have covered on this blog during the last year. Here are four examples:
1. Ironic black humour- what the IPPR calls ‘British comic nihilism”:
I wantoneofthose.com. “There’s nothing wrong with smiling in the face of adversity”.
Gizmodo UK “Watch Florida get swamped by the Atlantic [makes a change from it being blown away in hurricanes]. Guffaw loudly as valuable California real-estate imitates Atlantis and look on in horror as Central America drowns to become just a few islands”.
2. ‘Save the planet’ sloganeering (or ironic piss take of it):
Find-me-a-gift.co.uk. “You’ve got the whole world in your hands with the Global Warming Mug and you’re the only one that can save us from extinction! Slowly sip and watch each part of the map gradually grow smaller and smaller before the sea gobbles it all up! Or be a quick-sipper and restore the faith of the human race! Your planet needs you!”
3. marginalising personal action as an environmentalist sub cult:
Firebox.com “So unless you use renewable energy, cycle to work, recycle at home and spend your spare time planting trees, you’d better get ordering before our entire shipment melts away. It’s the end of the world as we know it! Pass the biscuits.”
4. Passive ‘it’s all easy’ self-deception.
Gizmodo UK “Once you’ve finished drinking that coffee, or if you just leave it sitting there to cool off, all goes back to normal, and all is right with the world.”
And if you don’t fancy a trite mug, how about one of the eco- gifts profiled in Dixon’s Greenshop (where, it tells us, we can ‘start making a difference today’): a wooden widescreen tv link….Apart from being framed in beech it uses just as much juice as any other model. Literally a green veneer on business as usual.
Happy Christmas everyone
ps with thanks to Alastair McIntosh and Chris Shaw for tipping me off about these.