Saturday, May 10, 2008

Harper's Magazine, Saving The Earth With SUV's And Airliners

For the last few months, I've been pointing out the clanging discord between the content and the advertising in Harper's magazine. Not too long ago, many of the Harper's articles read like a lunchbreak periodical for disgruntled socialists who are biding their time welding on the 3rd shift until the dawn of The Glorious People's Revolution. That's great. Pravda needs a competitor.

But here's what I think is funny. Most of the full page advertisements in Harper's are geared toward the coffee table at Trey and Buffy's second home on Martha's Vineyard.

I love analyzing that magazine every month. Here's a link to the most popular one.

But after a couple of months, Harper's got in line. (I'm sure my remote ravings from Fort Worth Texas had a lot to do with it.) Most of the essays started making more economic sense. You got the feeling when you bought Harper's that you were purchasing a Unified Periodical.

All bad things must come to an end. The May 2008 has no fingernails-on-the-chalkboard discord between content and marketing, with the exception of one essay by Wendell Berry. But the ads themselves reveal a magazine torn in a bitter division between cooling this planet and warming it up by a few degrees. Please include Harper's in your prayers.

Inside the front cover is an ad for a vehicle. My regular readers are familiar with this one. The background is a redwood forest. The sunlight filtering through the canopy of overhead leaves and branches project Al Gore profiles onto the tree trunks. The foreground of this forest is an unnatural mulch of grass, pine needles, organic locally grown produce, and recycled coffee grounds. Parked in the middle of this green environment is a Chevy Freakin' Tahoe. It's Green Car Journal's Green Car of the year. I swear to God, that's what it says.

Which aircraft carrier got first runner up? The U.S.S. Nimitz?

"This is a milestone in many respects," said Green Car Journal editor Ron Cogan. "People generally don't think 'green' when SUV's are concerned."

They sure as hell don't.

There's an ad for Ireland on page 5. Since you can't drive your Chevy Tahoe to Ireland, the only way for a Harper's reader to get there is to take a boat, or to fly. The couple in this Irish tourism ad, according to the blurb, is from Atlanta. I bet they didn't get to Ireland in a canoe.

Turn the page, and there's an ad from the good people at Shell Oil. They're peddling their GTL fuel, which they claim produces between 26 and 40% less sooty emissions in tested cars.

Turn another couple of pages, and you get to a two-pager from Visa. Life Takes Visa. It's a bouquet of golf clubs. Visa wants us to enjoy a romantic getaway with fantastic fairways. On the opposite page, Visa offers golf vacation destinations in Bermuda, Vegas, and Hawaii. (Note to self: look up mileage from U.S. mainland to Bermuda and Hawaii. Calculate jet fuel required to get there and back just one time. Divide this staggering amount by carbon emissions saved by driving a Chevy Tahoe, as compared to, say, a Sherman Tank. Calculate how many decades it takes to offset one trip overseas.)

Then there's an ad for tourism in Halifax, Nova Scotia. (Direct flights to Halifax from most major cities 1-800-565-0000 op 766.) The ad features a cool picture of a couple on a wooden deck overlooking a Halifax highway. (Note to self: calculate how long you would have to purchase only locally grown food and locally manufactured products to offset just one earth-destroying trip to Halifax.)

Here's a brief diversion away from the ads, and into the content..... The Harper's index reports that there are now 102 therapists in the U.S. who offer "eco-psychology" treatment for their patients who are concerned about the environment. I retract my previous statement about there being no discord in this Harper's issue. I haven't even gotten to Wendell Berry yet.

Honda has a full page ad showing another SUV. Honda has "Higher fuel efficiency, lower greenhouse gas emissions. That's the power of dedication." Kids are shown flying kites in the sky above the Honda SUV. (Full disclosure: I own two Honda SUV's. It's part of my effort to fight Global Cooling.)

On page 29 is a full-page ad for a device called the Stress Eraser. People come to my site all the time, ever since the stress eraser ad made it's debut on these pages. These visitors arrive via Google searches with terms like "Stress Eraser, Effectiveness Of " I think an equally effective search would be "Placebos, Effectiveness Of ".

The poet Wendell Berry has an article on "Faustian Economics", in which he states "the real names of global warming are Waste and Greed." I'm sorry, Wendell, but if you accept the premise that global warming has a human cause, the real names of global warming are Honda, Shell, Chevy Tahoe, and airliners flying to Nova Scotia, Hawaii, Bermuda, and Ireland.

Kevin Phillips has a good article called "The Numbers Racket", about why it's difficult to track unemployment and economic activity because of different criteria being used from year to year. If you read this article all the way through, you're a geek. If you read it twice, you're a total geek. I've read it three times. Good stuff.

Patrick Symmes gives us an article on Post-Fidel Cuba called "The Battle of Ideas". He takes a good look at what it's like living in that corrupt socialist shithole.

That's it for this month. I'm going to drive one of my earth-saving Honda SUV's to the airport, fly to Bermuda for some golf, and then fly to Ireland just to hang out. I don't even play golf, but I want to do my part to save the planet.


Pete Wann said...

I love that logic: "It produces less emissions and uses less gas, so it must be REALLY green!"

WRONG. No product should get to call itself green unless EVERY bit of that product has been evaluated for its environmental impact.

What kind of chemicals were used in the tanning of the hides for the leather seats? What kind of foam is in those seats? Does it really have to be SO BIG and use all that steel, plastic, and aluminum, etc. etc.

Calling a Chevy Tahoe (or a GMC Yukon) green is like believing in "clean coal."

The Whited Sepulchre said...

Thanks for the comment.
I don't expect capital "L" logic from my marketing and advertising, just internal consistency.
That's why I laugh out loud every time I see ads for the Green Chevy Tahoe.

And you're right about there being so much more than fuel that should be taken into account for the true "green" label.