14 May 2009
How to Make a New Generation of Coal Sexy, and Lessons for Promoting Transition
You won’t believe this one. How do you make a new generation of coal, traditionally seen as dirty and decidedly unglamorous, not to mention the fact that it is climate suicide, attractive again? Riding to the salvation of the coal industry is Carbon Capture and Storage, a marvellous technology the puts all the carbon dioxide produced safely underground somewhere. Only problem is that as a proven technology it still barely exists, and you need to burn a third more coal in order to power the thing. Still, doesn’t stop the coal industry (in this case GE Energy) using the oldest tricks in the advertising book to convince us the our future lies in coal.
Isn’t that fantastic? No matter the fact that their claim that the US still have 250 years worth of coal is absurd (an illusion Richard Heinberg’s new book will shatter), what fascinates me is the ad itself. If this approach can be used to sell something as abjectly rubbish as coal and a technology that is being used as a pretext for a new generation of coal before the technology has really proven itself, might those of us usually too politically correct to consider such an approach now see some value in this advertising approach?
I would love to see a series of adverts promoting relocalisation, simpler living, energy descent and local food production done in this way. What is the problem that getting the nation growing food and powering down again has? Its just not sexy enough… and as for insulting the loft, forget it. Could we not have an ad that opens with someone opening their front door one misty morning just after the milkman has been, and is startled to see a group of about 30 gorgeous male and female models (a la coal film) in skimpy workman’s dungarees, who then proceed to makeover their house, while the homeowner stands and gawps in astonishment?
Draught proofing is lovingly and suggestively unrolled around doorframes, insulation is passed up the stairs and rolled out into the loft where it is laid out and patted down, rather like someone making a bed. Up go the solar panels, in goes the double glazing. Out in the garden the raised beds are installed and planted up. Then, as soon as they arrived, they are gone, the last one out giving the person a kiss on the nose. How would that be? Sales of insulation up or down?
I’m so convinced its a winner, that I am even prepared to offer my own services. I am having my chest waxed in the morning and am ready to help out where I can. This is like a war effort remember, we all have to play our part. The two other thoughts I had watching the film were firstly what George Orwell would have made of it (hardly ‘Road to Wigan Pier’ is it?) and just how crushingly disappointed anyone would be who had decided to be a miner on the back of this film would be when they actually got down into the mine… “another product of pure eco-magination at work”… hmmmm.