marketing global warming

When it comes to global warming, I fall in the “cynic” category.  Not cynical about the existence of global warming or humans’ involvement in it, but about the motives that drive the movement.  I am of the opinion that much of the environmental movement in the United States — specifically the push to end global warming — has as its ultimate goal political strength and money-making.  What’s more, media coverage of global warming continues because of the piles of cash there is to make on the issue.  (it’s hard to see any monetary payoff for, say, the crisis in Darfur, sex trafficking in Asia, or the fight against homelessness in America)

Just look around you — nearly every company has released a “green” product of some kind.  They’ll continue to carry their “non-green” products, of course, but they want us to know that they are aware of the problems that we face regarding our Earth and are hard at work doing something about it.  Do you think the car or oil companies really feel morally obligated to fight global warming?  Of course not!  While Chevron brags about leading the industry in research on renewable energies, they send lobbyists to Washington to convince politicians that more science needs to be done with regard to global warming.  So jumping on the environmental bandwagon is awfully opportunistic for these companies.  The bottom line, of course, is the bottom line.

That said, I am a fierce environmentalist.  I believe the Earth is heating up and breaking down, and that we have some part in causing it.   I do my part to reduce my impact on the Earth and my neighbors.  We don’t own a car.  We have those expensive twisty bulbs.  We cook at home a lot.  We eat organic and fair trade foods whenever we can.  And the list goes on.  We just try not to get swept up in the marketing of the issue.  For me, it’s as much about self-sacrifice and discipleship as it is reversing global warming. (the egotism of much of the rhetoric — “we can reverse global warming”; “we can save the planet” — is really mind-boggling sometimes)

It is good to see the Southern Baptist Convention rise above political polarity to name environmental care as a moral issue at its recent conference.  The other sign that the apocalypse is upon us is a commercial hitting the airwaves this week featuring Pat Robertson and Al Sharpton sitting on a couch (Pat on the Right; Al on the left, of course) advocating for environmental care.  Al Gore’s foundation is putting up the money for the media blitz, and CBS News reports that other unlikely pairings will include Toby Keith and the Dixie Chicks and Nancy Pelosi and Newt Gingrich.


4 responses to this post.

  1. I agree with you Steve. Consumer culture is very devious. It co opts and comodifies anything and everything; even things that would be anti-consumer culture are turned into products to be sold. This is a great example of just that. The “green” movement threatened the oil and automobile companies and so they bought into it and started turning out products in order to make a profit on the movement that started to overturn them. Incredible!


  2. Posted by Polly on March 31, 2008 at 8:43 pm

    On the other hand it could be a sign of the positive momentum that individual action can create. Of course companies are doing it for the bottom line, but they only reason it is an effective business strategy is because people have made it clear that they will be buying with their consciousness. And I take some exception to the comparisons you used — when buying power CAN be used as an effective tool, people tend to use it. Yes, those are very good examples of issues that cannot be effected in this way, but other issues – remember Nike sweatshops? Walmart backlash? — can really be improved on a case by case basis by threatening company’s profits.

    The fact is, for every psuedo “organic” and dubiously labeled “green” products there are a ton more options out there for consumers of all wallet sizes who want to do the environmentally responsible thing. Just like with every other product there is some work involved in choosing the ones that are truly more efficient.

    Yeah, one more time, it’s dismissive of the power that people have to change corporate practices to not acknowledge WHY these companies find the “green” label so profitable.


  3. Posted by Melanie Larson on April 2, 2008 at 4:35 pm

    I have recently been hearing that “global warming” is no longer PC or accurate. It’s now “climate change.” Get it right! 🙂 So, I hear that, and I thought, “Hasn’t the climate always been changing? Didn’t the dinosaurs die from that?” But I don’t know much! I am curious to see what becomes of this movement. Especially with people beginning to worry what effects ethanol and those “low energy” fluourescent, mercury-filled light bulbs will have on the environment as well.


  4. Posted by Melanie Larson on April 2, 2008 at 4:38 pm

    I misspelled “fluorescent.” To be fair, it’s a hard word, and I’m a bad speller.

    Also, Toby Keith and the Dixie Chicks? hahahahahahaha


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