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Ad industry OKs climate porn

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Complaints against two of the four poster advertisements were upheld, because similar predictions of increased extreme weather events "should have been phrased more tentatively". (The TV ad contained the necessary weasel words.)

A poster ad titled "Rub a dub dub three men in a tub, a necessary course of action due to flash flooding caused by climate change" and another titled "Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water. There was none, as extreme weather due to climate change had caused a drought" (really) were felt to be insufficiently tentative.

Two other posters, one titled "Twinkle twinkle little star; how I wonder what you are, looking down at dangerously high levels of C02 in the atmosphere" and another titled "Hey diddle diddle, the cat and the fiddle, the cow jumped over the moon on discovering just how easy it was to reduce our C02 emissions" were deemed acceptable.

One complainant, who declined to be named, expressed amazement to us at the decision.

"Complainants will be astonished by this as the IPCC report is by no means unequivocal about the cause of global warming, and the Royal Society’s statement on their website is cautious about the consequences of climate change," he noted. "According to the Royal Society 'Possible consequences of climate change include rising temperatures, changing sea levels, and impacts on global weather. These changes could have serious impacts on the world's organisms and on the lives of millions of people, especially those living in areas vulnerable to extreme natural conditions such as flooding and drought.'"

Who's behind the ads?

Energy ministry DECC paid for the campaign, which is under an umbrella initiative called Act on CO2. Documents seen by El Reg refer to the wish to make Act on CO2 "the premier government-backed behaviour change brand". But is behaviour really changing?

Working both sides: ASA chairman Chris Smith

The complaints were made in October, before the Climategate archive leaked onto the web, prompting a series of stories showing claims by the IPCC on 'impacts' of global warming on rainforests, hurricane activity and glaciers, were exaggerated.

The expensive ads may not be working: since the campaign began, public skepticism on the theory has increased significantly. Russ Lidstone, chief executive of the advertising agency Euro RSCG is having second thoughts. The poll showed "great cynicism now as a result of questions in popular culture and regarding credibility of IPCC data" and said the public was becoming "desensitised" to predictions of extreme impacts.

There's an interesting interview with ASA chairman Chris Smith in the Times here, describing him as a "green revolutionary" who is working closely with the subject of the complaint, DECC. ®

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