Climate Change Denial

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November 7, 2006


George Marshall @ 6:46 pm

I’ve recently noticed car advertisements that openly address climate change with a new form of macho posturing: ‘yes we know but we DON’T CARE!’. This is a cynical style adopted from tabloid columnists such as Jeremy Clarkson, whose fans constitute a definable market sector.

Of course if you really don’t care about something you don’t put it in the middle of your advert. When people define themselves by what they are not, they are always dealing with some kind of internal conflict. These ads reflect a wider social trend whereby people respond to their fear of climate change and the personal restraint it demands by deliberately indulging in behaviour that they know to be destructive. This is a form of denial psychoanalysts call ‘reaction formation’.

Here are some recent examples. One from the US:


And here is one which appeared in the motoring section of my local paper two weeks ago from a local Ford dealership.
car ad

To my astonishment I turned the page and found the following advert . Although it is not about climate change it speaks to the same tendency to aggressively confront any arguments for restraint and makes me all the more convinced that this is a new trend.
Greed is good
I would like to build a gallery of adverts that reveal some aberrant response to climate change (including outrageous greenwash). Please send me scans to or snail mail me a hard copy c/o COIN, 16B Cherwell Street, Oxford OX4 1BG, UK and I will scan it for you.

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4 responses to “ADS 4 LADS”

  1. Mark Ritzenhein says:

    The UK may be new to such advertising, but glorifying selfishness and making a mantra out of consumerism has been an ironic mainstay of American commercial advertising for some time now. The nose-thumbing at Global Warming is new to me, however.
    One point I remind myself of is that one cannot persuade or scold people out of their own human nature, and men in particular take male pride in defying the social demand to conform and behave.
    I’m not surprised by the appearance of these ads (although they wouldn’t work in the American market because they are anti-evironmental), and no one should expect that humanity is suddenly going to pull together and save itself.

  2. In one sense I’m surprised there isn’t more of this, and in Britain where cycnicism and distrust – or defiance – of authority is endemic and not only amongst males. (just think about Asbos for example). But maybe we can enlist this defiance in favour of action to curb climate change (stopping it altogether is not practicable), bearing in mind that this requires massive change in itself and that climate change deniers are an orthodoxy of their own.
    Quick digression: what do we know about Piers Corbyn who has been popping up recently with letters in the Guardian claiming that CO2 isn’t a big cause of climate change and that ice cores show past climate fluctuations don’t fit with fluctuations in CO2 levels?

  3. Matt says:

    PCA’s (Personal Carbon Allowances) would deal with these people. I have something on this over at our team-blog if you’re interested. You can even sign a petition at No.10. You may also like to vote in our poll;

    The question runs; ‘What do you think is the best way to tackle climate change?

    Hope you have time to give your views on this very important issue.


  4. Dave says:


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