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Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Utilitarian environmentalism 


The problem with purely utilitarian environmentalism -- the idea that the morality of human activity ought to be measured in lives lost, as opposed to other metrics -- is that it leads to, well, unbelievably tortured reasoning to which no normal person would subscribe. Behold a (thankfully rejected) ad commissioned by a leading environmental group:


The most offensive ad ever?


The idea being, of course, that human activity that leads to environmental damage is vastly more dangerous than terrorism.

Idiocy on stilts, except apparently to the Brazilians who thought this would be a great way to persuade American voters and politicians to sacrifice current income to prevent warming tomorrow.


18 Comments:

By Blogger JPMcT, at Thu Sep 03, 12:36:00 AM:

Isn't it disappointing that we live in a world that tolerates...hell, even institutionalizes... such monumental stupidiy.

Liberalism is a mental illness.  

By Blogger Cas, at Thu Sep 03, 04:20:00 AM:

What were these morons at DDB Brazil (Brazilian ad agency who created the ad) thinking?!?! Why would the World Wildlife Fund INTENTIONALLY p!$$ off so many people?
Perhaps the ad would have been more effective if the skyline shown was Sao Paulo, or Rio de Janeiro instead?  

By Blogger Don Cox, at Thu Sep 03, 05:42:00 AM:

The objection to this is the faulty logic. We don't have to prevent premature deaths from terrorism OR pollution: we have to reduce terrorism AND pollution. It is true that pollution can kill large numbers: for example, tens of thousands died young from the smoke in London from 1880-1960. But also, many die from the indirect effects of terror: consider the damage done to Iraq's health service by the terror campaigns, which drove many doctors out of the country. So far more Iraqis have died prematurely than the hundred thousand or so who have been directly killed by bombs, bullets, and beheadings.

The advert is logically wrong, and offensively presented. Good thing it wasn't used.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Sep 03, 06:59:00 AM:

Tsunamis are not something any environmental policy can prevent. They are geophysical phenomena arising from processes deep within the earth. WWF seems to be suggesting with this ad there is some "policy" which can prevent tsunamis. There isn't, unless governments figure out a way to stop plate tectonics. (They could improve warning systems for better response).

Tsunamis are not a function of anything we do or don't do.

So maybe the ad has a certain logic in comparing a tsunami to al Qaeda terrorism, though not in the way the ad's writers intended.  

By Blogger John F. Opie, at Thu Sep 03, 08:00:00 AM:

Hi -

Apparently the ad was actually run, but in small Brazilian paper exactly once. The head of the agency then pulled it, but it was included in the works that the agency submitted to an ad awards competition, which is why folks now know about it.

Sort of goes to underscore the absolute lack of morality and/or moral thinking in the business...  

By Blogger maidlow, at Thu Sep 03, 08:19:00 AM:

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.  

By Blogger Dawnfire82, at Thu Sep 03, 08:32:00 AM:

... was that a joke?

Because it was hilarious.  

By Blogger Don Cox, at Thu Sep 03, 09:04:00 AM:

"the only way to stop global warming ... is to get solar panels"

That is an absurdly over-simplified statement. There are several other energy sources that do not release greenhouse gases.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Sep 03, 09:05:00 AM:

The video has been yanked, as of Thursday morning at 9 am, with the explanation 'copyright claim by DDB Brazil'.

Retread  

By Blogger TigerHawk, at Thu Sep 03, 09:32:00 AM:

I deleted that comment because it was both spam and offensive.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Sep 03, 10:22:00 AM:

Global warming has never really been the issue. It has always been overpopulation with world head count targeted to go from the current 6.5 billion to 9 billion by 2050.
Most of this growth is in the third world in areas where growing populations would strip all vegetation (ala Haiti) and actually change the environment.
The extreme left, of course, can not preach population control for the world's blacks and browns and have defined the problem so the leading solution attacks America and capitalism.  

By Blogger Khaki Elephant, at Thu Sep 03, 11:19:00 AM:

I manage a creative design team and, whether the ad actually ran or not, find that the fact it was designed, developed, approved as a legit comp and somehow made its way to the public reveals volumes about environmental extremism.

I do have one question though, has this been submitted to the Nobel committee yet?  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Sep 03, 01:13:00 PM:

Heh. One wonders how the Nobel committee would have reacted.

OT aside: Here's a picture they would really love, from the White House photo stream.

On the post itself, I often wonder if attitudes and opinions were as affected in people far from the "ground zero" sites as they were in our community (where several friends lost their lives).  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Sep 03, 01:21:00 PM:

"The extreme left, of course, can not preach population control for the world's blacks and browns and have defined the problem so the leading solution attacks America and capitalism."

You couldn't be more wrong. The left believes strongly in population control, by any means necessary. What's with your focus on "blacks and browns", anyway? CC, is that you trolling?  

By Anonymous Brian Schmidt, at Thu Sep 03, 01:55:00 PM:

Contra TH, the ad wasn't aimed at Americans, it was aimed at Brazilians. Still a bad idea, but nowhere near as stupid as the "We call it life" ad that the denialists actually ran.  

By Blogger Don Cox, at Thu Sep 03, 02:25:00 PM:

"wonder if attitudes and opinions were as affected in people far from the "ground zero" sites"

No, they were not. (I am writing from the UK.) Everyone world wide was shocked, but there is a limit to how strongly you can feel about a disaster on another continent. I don't think most Americans are much moved when an Al Qaeda bomb in Iraq kills scores of people - although it is the same enemy.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Sep 03, 05:43:00 PM:

9/11 just proves that America is guilty of something; to some people.

Take B Obama for instance. His take away, was a little different than yours or mine. He wants to reprogram 9/11 to honor ACORN and the SEIU union thugs.

I find the holocaust deniers, just as offensive.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Sep 04, 06:46:00 AM:

Don Cox, you said "I don't think most Americans are much moved when an Al Qaeda bomb in Iraq kills scores of people - although it is the same enemy."

I think there is a big difference between 3,000 people being killed in a place where mass murder is unheard of and 50 being killed in a place that for generations has known nothing but murder and violence.

And probably another reason 9/11 was so shocking is that it brought home the reality of the world to a lot of people. Now we are nodding off at the wheel again, and the next 9/11 is going to make the original look like a minor incident.  

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