Climate Change Denial

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January 9, 2007


George Marshall @ 6:28 pm

It is time for another selection of images from advertising and newsmedia that respond to climate change in a bizarre and dissonant manner. Many thanks to the denial bloggers who contributed.

wallpaperHere’s a cracker for a starter. It’s the front cover of Wallpaper, a design magazine for the bling encrusted show-off international rich with feature articles on which airports have the most glamourous first class lounges. I have to admit that I am a subscriber- but then I’m sick.Wallpaper themed its November issue around climate change with this bizarre image. Post modern seating for King Canute?


needforspeedThis new Play Station game ‘Need for Speed CARBON’ came out a few months ago. I suspect the word ‘Carbon’ was chosen with the same ‘climate change is for sissies’ mentality that we’ve noticed before in ads (see november posting)- after all, would a car racing game ever use the word carbon if we not hearing so much about climate change? I can imagine in this case that it is also aiming to add a sense of living on the edge Mad Max apocalypse to their wretched game.

Simon Cooper wrote to tell me of a bumber sticker he’d seen on a very large, very red sportscar – “Destroying tomorrow – living for today”. Sadly, he says, he couldn’t quite get the camera out of my pocket without falling off his bike.yes-necessaryHowever, is was easy to get a picture of this bumber sticker because it was a freebie that fell out of my Saturday Guardian. The Guardian newspaper has been on the forefront of serious reporting on climate change and , despite the cynical decision to carry excerpts from Bjorn Lomborg some years back, they’ve been pretty good,. So what to make of this free giveaway sticker? Certainly it does not read to me like a positive message that the driver is driving as little as possible to save the climate. The whole tone and phrasing seems to be saying ‘piss off with your nagging climate change whingeing- I’m the one to make the decisions about when and where to drive my car’. As such, intentional or otherwise, it certainly qualifies for the undercurrent of reactive climate change denial mentioned in the ADS 4 LADS posting



NYKPeter Winters sent me this advert for NYK, a global shipping company (I reproduce only the image). The text reads ‘Feb 21 Loaded into a NYK bulk carrier in Colombia, 164,000 tons of coal. March 16 Unloaded in Hunterston Scotland, the same coal, to be transported to power stations that provide electricity to millions of homes’

Peter writes ‘this advert is less obvious than the car adverts, but, for me, just as disturbing as they are using powerful family brand values to promote a key culprit for causing global warming. (How about images of dying coral, species loss, bush fires, people starving from desert encroachment etc etc.instead!!)’. On the desert encroachments I would add that burning this much coal produced 360,000 tons of carbon dioxide. That’s twenty times more than the entire annual emissions of Somalia. And they’re the ones who are going to starve as a result.

shellChris Petit sent me this advert from Shell which appeared in 14th October 2006 edition of ‘The Week’ which he says he spotted in his girlfriends bathroom – presumably during a meditative reading break. I have cropped the image and cut off text about how creative and hard working ‘John’ has to be to squeeze the last toxic fossil fuels out of the ground.

Chris says ‘ It’s their blatant posturing that appears to say ‘hey, we know the world’s resources are running low, but don’t worry we have heroes like this guy working for us to source even the hardest to reach reserves. So don’t worry your little minds about things running out, there’s still plenty of natural resources out there to be had, so keep on living your unsustainable lifestyles and keep on consuming, it is OK.’ It really saddens me.

Finally thank you Chris Smith and Mark Gater who both wrote to remind me of the disgraceful adverts produced by the Exxon and Texaco funded Competitive Enterprise Insitute with the strapline “Carbon Dioxide: they call it pollution, we call it life”. It is not exactly denial so much as unspeakable cynical manipulation.

You can see the original at link….
And a satisfying parody at link…

This will continue to be a regular feature on this blog, so please keep sending me
adverts that reveal some aberrant response to climate change (including outrageous greenwash). Please send 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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7 responses to “SELLING THE SIZZLE”

  1. Daharja says:

    Denial…it *was* a river in Egypt. Before it dried up, due to global climate change.

    But don’t you worry about that! I’m sure Shell have some heroic guys working right now on finding new rivers for us to pollute and abuse…somewhere…

  2. Geist says:

    Hey just wanted to say I’m loving the site in general. This post raised a few smiles!

  3. Douglas Watts says:

    I remember the large ad campaign from the 1970s by the American Chemical/Plastics/Pesticide lobby …

    “Without chemicals, life itself would be impossible.”

  4. DDK says:

    Playstation 2 “Carbon”? Since it involves race cars, I would assume the word “carbon” is in reference to carbon fiber used in high end race cars, not CO2. See “carbon fiber” on Wikepedia

    “It [carbon fiber] is also widely used to enhance the look of automobiles and reduce weight. Many of the “tuner” style cars have carbon fiber hoods to reduce weight from a stock 28 lb hood to an 8 lb hood. Another use is in the increasingly popular hobby of RC cars, many high-end kits come with many carbon fiber parts due to their light weight and attractive appearance.”

  5. When it comes to Playstation, the use of the word carbon has nothing at all to do with climate change – I think that only someone who is completely and utterly obssessed with CO2 emissions could possibly think that.

    DDK is totally correct, carbon, or carbon fibre is usually the stock and trade of high-end performance cars like Formular 1.

  6. Dave Hampton says:

    To Courtney Hamilton and DDK.

    Excuse me, but Courtney H you neglected to mention the reason for your certainty about the reason for the Playstation name ‘Carbon’ NOT being the obvious one. (i.e. Carbon, hydrocarbon, CO2, carbon emissions, fossil carbon.)

    Do you know this, or do you just sound like you know it.

    Only someone obsessed with making something insidious sound innocent could think that the word carbon referred to something as dull as carbon fibre when it could refer to concentrated sunlight energy explosions, the internal combustion engine.

  7. FC says:


    I would also have believed that “Carbon” refered to mods but I was slightly wrong. The game takes place in “Carbon Canyon” and was the reason for the name. EA also stated it has a dual meaning because of the carbon fiber mods available for the cars offered in the game. Not EVERYONE is trying to push an agenda, I think a mistake was made by posting this one without doing a 2 min google.

    Yes; I do know this; I took the 2 min to google.

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