“Some places could even disappear under the sea, and it was the children of the land who’d have to live with the consequences,” a father said, reading a bedtime story about climate change to his young daughter.
This sentence paints a jarring portrait of a future world, one of many found in the “Act on CO2” TV ad launched by the United Kingdom’s Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) in the fall. The ad, entitled “Change How the Story Ends” was meant to cause the public to rethink carbon dioxide emissions, but instead of raising concern for the environment, it raised anger.
Though I haven’t been among the angry, I’ve been among the puzzled. I assumed outcry would stop the ad, but instead of its demise, 4 more ad campaigns appeared, much like the Greek serpent-beast Hydra’s multiplying heads.
As of October 21, the country’s Advertising Standards Authority received 357 complaints about the campaign. Some complaints said there’s no scientific evidence for climate change, while others said the ad is “upsetting and scaremongering.”
Before and since Copenhagen, crazed and misguided warnings against climate change have cropped up, based on commercials and other “propaganda” that extremists say elicit fear for no reason at all.
Still, the DECC defended its campaign against critics, saying they chose a harsh message because half of UK citizens don’t think climate change will affect them.
Even the climate change activist in me says there has to be a middle ground. While well-intended, it’s hard to focus on global warming when you’re looking at a moving storybook filled with crying farm animals and drowning family pets. On the other hand, climate change needs to be on the public’s agenda. Though we need climate change education, television commercial cult science hardly seems like the solution. For now, its the DECC that needs to change the story and not just the ending.
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