Environmentalism

BP Babies Sell Green Gasoline

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Slate reviews the new creepy cartoon commercials for BP. The most recent, embedded above, suggests that BP is the gas station of choice for environmentally-responsible babies with drivers licenses:

BP hopes to cement itself as the most "green" of the massive oil companies. To this end, the ad shows little windmills in the background. Also, BP service stations (there are more than 11,000 in the United States alone) have switched from plastic to paper bags at their convenience stores, and hand out trading cards with environmentally sensitive tips for kids (for instance: Use both sides of the paper when you color)….

BP wants its logo (that flower/sun thingy, known as the "helios") to be the shorthand promise of a satisfying and environment-friendly service-station experience. These ads are not a bad effort on that score. But ultimately, I think gas-station choice will always come down to price, convenience, and maybe a quick eyeing of the grounds just to make sure they're not intolerably disgusting.

For more on BP's misguided efforts to become the greenest gas company (and more musings on the flower/sun thingy) check out "The Age of Corporate Environmentalism."

NEXT: The Lonely Guy

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  1. *shakes head*

    oh well, atleast this is better than Exxon’s “Fuck You!!” PR

  2. Here’s a handy way to test the real motivations and intentions you face when debating a climate-change alarmist. Give him this challenge:

    Just for the sake of argument, assume that skeptics are right about one thing only – that human-generated carbon dioxide is not a significant contributor to the global warming trend of the past century, nor will it be a significant contributor to the future warning trend. Assume that everything else the alarmists claim is true. Assume that the global mean temperature (yeah, I know, just play along here) will rise by several degrees. Assume that land ice will melt, dump into the sea, and push sea levels up. Assume more flooding, more powerful storms, more precip in places that don’t need it and less precip in places that do. Assume that polar bears and bullfrogs will die. Assume kudzu and other weeds will swallow the countryside. And so on.

    Even if the warning trend is a natural phenomenon, caused by sunspots or other cycles uncaused by human action, shouldn’t we try to stop it, anyway? Why are we arguing about causation?

    Similarly, try another thought experiment on him. What if the recent warming ended next year. Alarmists claim that we are already experiencing deleterious effects from it. Shouldn’t we take steps to reduce the mean temperature? How far down should we try to take it? What is the “right” temperature?

    If your sparring partner argues that human beings shouldn’t interfere with a natural process, then he is giving the game away. His goal is not to maximize benefits and minimize costs associated with climate changes. His goal is to change human action for other reasons, and his motivation is essentially religious.

  3. That would be an excellent article for a high school newspaper. When do you graduate?

  4. …environmentally sensitive tips for kids (for instance: Use both sides of the paper when you color)….

    Fools! Little kids HATE to color on both sides of the paper! And they don’t even like scrap paper that’s been printed on one side either.

  5. “That would be an excellent article for a high school newspaper. When do you graduate?”

    What Exxon said…

  6. …BP’s misguided efforts to become the greenest gas company…

    You’re going to have to help me out on this one – they’re using the power of PR to spin their contribution to environmental causes into a selling point, making them more attractive to consumers who are increasingly concerned about such things. Is it a bad thing because of the size of their contributions? Otherwise I can’t for the life of me figure this one out.

  7. That would be an excellent article for a high school newspaper. When do you graduate?

    pwned.

  8. BP hopes to cement itself as the most “green” of the massive oil companies.

    And this will translate into higher returns to shareholders, how, exactly?

    That would be an excellent article for a high school newspaper.

    Unclear on the reference for “That”.

  9. ” Is it a bad thing because of the size of their contributions? Otherwise I can’t for the life of me figure this one out.”

    Yes, that’s it. Big company, big contribution, big evil. Only really, little companies are moral.

  10. And this will translate into higher returns to shareholders, how, exactly?

    Um, because they hope to attract car drivers who are environmentally aware.


  11. Just for the sake of argument, assume that skeptics are right about one thing only – that human-generated carbon dioxide is not a significant contributor to the global warming trend of the past century, nor will it be a significant contributor to the future warning trend.

    Damn, that’s quite an assumption.

    You end up with: “let’s assume that you’re wrong, now defend your position”.

  12. I just feel some juvenile need to call BP the buttfuckingest oil company in the world, but I can’t think of a good setup.

    I met Lord Browne last year. Liked the cut of his suit.

  13. About once every four fillups I will go out of my way to buy from a BP.

  14. greenie tip o the day:

    Use both sides of the paper when you wipe.

  15. Damn, that’s quite an assumption.

    It’s called a hypothetical.

    I often chastise global warming deniers for arguing that “humans aren’t causing global warming” implies “humans don’t need to do anything about global warming.” If global warming will have catastrophic effects on humanity, we should address it whether or not humanity is to blame — as assuredly as we would address an asteroid that was going to hammer the planet.

    J Hood asks the question of the other side of the debate. I think it’s an interesting and enlightening thought experiment. Care to address it?

  16. My kids, boys ages 6 and 4, absolutely love that commercial. They think it is hilarious to see babies driving a car, I guess.

    I’m with SOB however on the paper issue: not only will my sons refuse to write, draw, or color on both sides of a piece of paper, they will also reject even slightly crumpled or folded paper. You’d think that they were drafting the Magna Carta or something, instead of illustrating their 854th rendition of Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles Kick Eggman’s Ass.

  17. No, really, I’m stumped. BP is making a lot of noise about the fact that they’re voluntarily supporting ‘green’ initiatives, and being rewarded in the marketplace for it; it is thus possible that the social ostracism of their competitors may drive others to make similar moves.

    Why is this bad? Because you (Katherine) think that ‘green’ initiatives are silly? Help!

  18. Use both sides of the paper when you wipe.

    I think that’s a brownie tip. Also, it saves energy if you only shake once.

  19. New tip: If it’s brown, flush it down. If it’s yellow, stay mellow!

  20. if it’s clear and yellah, you got juice, there fellah! If it’s cloudy and brown, you’re in cider town!

  21. I’m outta here!

  22. Um, because they hope to attract car drivers who are environmentally aware.

    Lets compare earnings growth for BP, the Greenies’ oil company, and Exxon, the bane of Greenies everywhere. Over the last two years, BP is up 10%, underperforming the market and its sector. Exxon is up 40%, beating the market and pacing its sector.

    So I would say BP is wasting the shareholder’s money on a vanity campaign.

  23. If global warming will have catastrophic effects on humanity, we should address it whether or not humanity is to blame — as assuredly as we would address an asteroid that was going to hammer the planet.

    True, but that moves the global warming debate away from neo-Puritan lifestyle control, and toward geo-engineering. None of the people pushing the global warming agenda seem interested in doing that. Wonder why? Could it be that GW is just a pretext for a neo-Puritan agenda?

    It also begs the question, of course, of whether global warming will in fact be, on net, catastrophic. Given that warming/cooling cycles are natural, I tend to think not.

  24. “Could it be that GW is just a pretext for a neo-Puritan agenda?”

    Thanks for taking the time to read and comment on my high school newspaper article.

  25. J Hood.

    “Similarly, try another thought experiment on him. What if the recent warming ended next year. Alarmists claim that we are already experiencing deleterious effects from it. Shouldn’t we take steps to reduce the mean temperature? How far down should we try to take it? What is the “right” temperature?

    If your sparring partner argues that human beings shouldn’t interfere with a natural process, then he is giving the game away. His goal is not to maximize benefits and minimize costs associated with climate changes. His goal is to change human action for other reasons, and his motivation is essentially religious.”

    Despite being an attempt to examine the issue from another angle, to respond to this seriously requires that you ignore the topic at hand*. What does “warming ended next year” mean in terms of this topic? We are not talking about short term fluctuations but long term trends.

    But let’s attempt to address your more abstract points.

    “Shouldn’t we take steps to reduce the mean temperature?”

    If the mechanisms that are causing the abnormal warming have magically disappeared (let’s assume, to meet your hypothetical conditions, that the world has figured out how to be CO2 neutral and implemented all the needed changes by June 2007), what would be the motivation for undertaking active measures? Passive observation would seem to be the appropriate course.

    “What is the “right” temperature?”

    There isn’t a right temperature. The main negatives involved in AGW are the rate at which our contribution is changing the climate. When species or cultures have to deal with these changes over millenia (the “natural pace” which will involve occasional catastrophic events) there isn’t really a problem. When you reduce that time frame to decades, then things get complicated. There are absolute values we want to avoid (See “Impact from the Deep” Scientific American, Oct. 2006), but there aren’t really “right” temperatures.

    “If your sparring partner argues that human beings shouldn’t interfere with a natural process.”

    What if they argue that humans should minimize interference with natural processes because those processes have inherent/intrinsic value? Aren’t there many positions along this continuum?

    “His goal is not to maximize benefits and minimize costs associated with climate changes.”

    Doesn’t follow. If you see a benefit in nature unencumbered by human interference, a desire to maximize that benefit works into a cost/benefit analysis. You just feel they are using the wrong set of cost and benefit measures to play the game.

    “His goal is to change human action for other reasons, and his motivation is essentially religious.”

    These do not follow. Those “other reasons” may be supported by a different set of assumptions about what costs and benefits look like. There is no reason to assume that two reasonable people can’t disagree…no need to assume that a religious zeal is involved.

    *Your thought experiment mainly serves to demonstrate that you are thinking about the issue very superficially. If you were talking to someone with a similarly superficial grasp of the issue you might get them to think deeper, I guess.

  26. I’m frankly surprised that at this point in the thread, noone has commented on how screwed up the commercial itself is. If I, as an animator, had been handed a description of what they wanted me to draw here, I would have asked them what they’d been taking before they came up with this. Somehow, babies driving around a landscape out of a modernist Alice in Wonderland doesn’t want to make me go buy gas.

  27. Eh, somebody just wanted to get crazy with the toon shaders.

    It’s not a fantastic ad, but it’s not horrible, either.

  28. Maybe they should take the money they are spending on their green credentials and try fixing their leaking pipelines in Alaska?

  29. What’s amazing is that we somehow shot straight beyond “there is global warming” to “man is causing global warming” when there is plenty of evidence that global warming just happens. It’s happened before and it will happen again. Man’s got nothing to do with it. So, if man didn’t cause it… why do we think 1) man CAN fix it, or 2) man SHOULD fix it?

    Oh yeah. SOMETHING MUST BE DONE! It’s for the children.

    CB

  30. Even if the warning trend is a natural phenomenon, caused by sunspots or other cycles uncaused by human action, shouldn’t we try to stop it, anyway? Why are we arguing about causation?

    Outlaw sunspots!

  31. Here’s a handy way to test the real motivations and intentions you face when debating a climate-change alarmist.

    Sigh, I don’t suppose we can keep it to just one global warming thread a day.

  32. Rich Ard, You don’t see the irony of a carbon energy company portraying itself as champion of the environment? Its like if a tobacco company opened a hospital and billed itself as the most health conscious company in the industry.

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