How marketing could have saved the world • 9 April 2008 • The SnowBlog

How marketing could have saved the world

I said it a while back: I'm passionately ambivalent about marketing. When it's good, it's brilliant. But when it's too good, it's manipulative and creepy. But I can't help thinking that a little magic marketing dust in the right place and the world would be thinking very differently about its upcoming climate catastrophe. 'Global Warming' was an awful, awful term to use. Unless you already lived somewhere too hot, you just thought, "Great! No more chilly mornings. My SUV will be easier to start." I've always used the phrase 'climate change' instead, but then I feel I need to tack on a qualifier and call it 'manmade climate change' because otherwise the term is equally useful to skeptics who think natural climate cycles are responsible for any changes. Now even ignoring the problems I have with the term 'manmade' (which never sounds very feminist to me) it's still a clunky phrase. What I would have preferred is that back in the late Seventies when I first saw a TV program about some crrraaazzzy Californian hippy scientists who thought that spraycan propellants could mess with the atmosphere, is if the term 'climate damage' had been coined. And then, thereafter, we could have argued about whether 'climate damage' was real and how much of it had occurred. It's a simple phrase that conveys something bad we're doing and ought to stop. And if we'd got into the habit of using it, we wouldn't have to have those longwinded explanations when the floodwaters rise in Gloucestershire of how 'Global warming can actually involve changes in rainfall patterns as well as an overall trend of rising temperatures, blah, blah, blah'. I do draw the line at calling skeptics 'climate change deniers' with its attempt to lump them in with those who say the Holocaust never happened, but I think I'd be ethically comfortable with a less loaded but still rather pointed term like 'climate damage'. Is it too late to put it out there and let it galvanise the world into saving itself?


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