These days it seems that everything we do is potentially saving the world. If you believe advertising, that is. The mighty no-brains of the advertising “industry” have noticed that we seem to care that the planet upon which we live might be in fatal breakdown. So they have decided to use this worry in order to sell us stuff we don’t need. What heroes they are…
And now we are assailed by an avalanche of crappy copy – “Buy this and save the world!” Just today I saw a road sign that proclaimed “Pump up your tires and save the world!” This was referring to the fact that under-inflated tires can lead to you using more fuel than is necessary to move your worthless arse from A to B. So just force some more air in there, you great big hero you, and save us all! (And save yourself 500:- per year into the bargain, which you may spend on driving even more than you planned.)
This constant evoking of “save the world!” to sell us piss and peanuts devalues the whole idea. It turns it into a cliché and that is a very dangerous thing indeed.
A better way to save the world would be for car drivers to take the fucking bus. Or perhaps get an environmentally-friendly car. Of course, this idea is flawed too, because there are no environmentally friendly cars. Really, there aren’t. Cars come in 2 environmental flavours: extremely damaging, and fairly damaging, and that’s it. You can’t call a car “environmentally friendly” just because it has the ability to burn a different kind of hydrocarbon. Or because it is much more fuel-efficient. A car, simply by existing, damages the environment.
And there are no environmentally friendly fuels either, despite the billions of dollars being spent to convince us that ethanol cars are “green”. They’re not. Ethanol must be produced, stored, transported and burnt and, even more dangerously (as pointed out by George Monbiot) ethanol production fuel puts cars into direct competition with food. And who will win a spending competition between middle-class drivers and poor people who want to eat? Hmm, now let me think…
We’re not saving the world by buying more stuff, and we won’t do it by letting advertisers press our guilt buttons either. We may do it by piling all the advertising executives into a downdraft gasifier, burning the combustible gasses in a gas turbine and sequestering the carbon dioxide produced. And even if we don’t, it would still be fun to watch.