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Not for sale, but if we were...

05 Feb 2020 | News Roundup

Britain’s Guardian, mighty guardian of political correctness including on climate, stoutly bans ads by fossil fuel companies to teach them a sharp one about the “decades-long efforts by many in that industry to prevent meaningful climate action by governments around the world”. But when asked to ban car ads, the CEO and chief revenue officer whinge that “Stopping those ads would be a severe financial blow, and might force us to make significant cuts to Guardian and Observer journalism around the world”. See, you sacrificing is a pious abstraction. Us making money is a reality thing.

There’s a displeasing air of self-important hypocrisy here. Like Justin Trudeau’s constant jet-setting (he’s now off to Ethiopia, Senegal and Germany “to fight climate change” and accomplish various other marvellous things and no price is too high for him to “build a more prosperous path forward for everyone” including spewing GHGs across three continents), the Guardian’s journalism is just too important, whereas your shabby commute has got to go.

It’s remarkable how hard as well as fast the rubber hits the road when it comes to swearing off fossil fuels. It’s always somebody else who should do it. Or, in the case of the Guardian, nobody, since most of those cars advertised in the Guardian run on fossil fuels. A few might run on electricity, ideally not generated in a coal- or gas-fired plant. But they probably don’t, because as governments cut subsidies for cutting-edge technologies that cut no edges, sales of electric cars are stagnating or even plummeting faster than advertising revenue in a newspaper. So this policy saves oil companies advertising money they mostly weren’t spending anyway because consumers don’t need to be reminded what makes their car go. And the Guardian sacrifices advertising revenue it mostly wasn’t getting anyway, while making money off fossil fuels.

Of course sometimes even small sacrifices are too big. National Geographic, for instance, is very woke on climate. Yet its newsletter entices its sophisticated readers, in one week alone, to sample the spicy delights of Hoang Lien park in Vietnam, ice climb Kilimanjaro (“As glaciers melt, this adventure is becoming a rare experience”), attempt “forest bathing” in Japan and “Explore tarot’s centuries-old history in Milan”.

If you’re interested, you can find ads for airplane tickets in the Guardian.

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