ExxonMobilizing humor against weak claims
This week global activist group Avaaz began airing a spoof ad that takes direct aim at ExxonMobil's cheery ad campaign featuring scientists talking about how they're making the clean energy of the future. A company spokesman responded to the ad: "They seem to be critical of our desire to communicate our positions on climate change, which we don't understand."
Funny -- we don't understand your position on climate change either, ExxonMobil! (zing). You say you want to make the world cleaner through chemistry, but then you lobby hard to make sure that won't happen. See the videos -- and help get Avaaz's ad on CNN -- below.ExxonMobil's confusion over the spoof is kinda hilarious, especially considering that its former position on climate change was all about denial, and that it even once sponsored an unfunny parody ad about Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth. Now the company is putting its trust in scientists to mitigate global warming (even though it and the other oil companies didn't seem to take scientists very seriously before.
Here's one of ExxonMobil's feel-good ads. (Gosh, it does feel good. I want to hug these people.)
NB: one of ExxonMobil's ads was banned in the UK for its false claim that liquefied natural gas is one of the world's cleanest fuels.
Here's Avaaz's take:
It's hard to feel bad for ExxonMobil for a lot of reasons, not least because it's ads -- those frank up-close black-and-white shots, that quasi-thoughtful music -- are so easy to parody.
The inconvenient truth for ExxonMobil is that its desire doesn't match its actions, which include lobbying against cap-and-trade legislation in the US Congress and against a global climate treaty at Copenhagen. Ben Wikler of Avaaz.org responds to ExxonMobil's spokesman at The Huffington Post:
Mr. Jeffers, sorry for confusing you! Perhaps we could be more clear. We have no problem with ExxonMobil's "desire to communicate." It's ExxonMobil's positions on climate change that we're critical of... and the fact that the communications in question don't actually communicate them.
What's ExxonMobil want anyway?
ExxonMobil no longer questions whether climate change is happening, but now is putting emphasis on dealing with climate change through science rather than through politics. And Chief Executive Rex Tillerson has said he supports a carbon tax over a cap-and-trade scheme to regulate greenhouse gases.
But as the Dallas Morning News muses, is that because he thinks that's the best way to slow emissions, or because Tillerson thinks he can sabotage an effort at slowing emission by using "that dirty three-letter word -- tax?"
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