Guest essay by Eric Worrall
According to a think tank report, excessive advertising is driving materialist consumerism which is contributing to the destruction of the world through global warming. But in my opinion this is a thinly disguised attack on free speech.
Rein in advertising to help tackle climate crisis, report urges
Industry promotes materialism and lifts sales of climate-harming products, study says
Fri 27 Nov 2020 17.00 AEDT
Advertising needs to be controlled and changed to reduce its impact on the climate, according to a report released as consumers prepare to spend billions on Black Friday.
The report says the advertising industry has so far escaped scrutiny about its role in contributing to climate change. Tim Kasser, an emeritus professor of psychology at Knox College in Illinois, who co-authored the report, said there was a body of evidence to show that in order to make progress in addressing and reversing climate and ecological degradation, it would be prudent to rein in and change the practices of the advertising industry.
“This report argues that enough sound empirical evidence exists to support the conclusion that the advertising industry indirectly contributes to climate and ecological degradation through its encouragement of materialistic values and goals, the consumption-driving work and spend cycle, and the consumption of two illustrative products, namely beef and tobacco,” Kasser wrote.
…Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/nov/27/rein-in-advertising-to-help-tackle-climate-crisis-report-urges
The executive summary of the report;
Advertising’s Role in Climate and Ecological Degradation
Many industries have been recognized as directly and indirectly causing climate and ecological degradation. So far, however, the advertising industry has largely escaped accountability. This report attempts to remedy the omission by looking at four ways that advertising indirectly causes such harm. Specifically, it reviews scientific literature showing that materialistic values and goals, the consumption-driving work & spend cycle, and the consumption of two illustrative products (namely beef and tobacco) are each a) encouraged by advertising and b) implicated in causing various forms of environmental damage. It seems likely that similar dynamics occur for other products, services, and experiences. This body of empirical evidence therefore supports the conclusion that if humanity hopes to make progress in addressing and reversing climate and ecological degradation, it would be prudent to rein in and change the practices of the advertising industry.Read more: https://www.badverts.org/reports-and-publications
The author Tim Kasser is Emeritus Professor of Psychology at Knox College, US, author of several books including Hypercapitalism (2018) and The High Price of Materialism (2002), and co-editor of Psychology and Consumer Culture (2004). He is a research advisor to the Badvertising campaign.
Although reining in advertising might seem like a great idea, especially as we all endure the frenzy of Christmas marketing, I see this whole idea as a thinly disguised attack on free speech.
I’m not disputing the harm tobacco causes, but once you have laws which regulate what people are allowed to advertise on the basis of the nebulous climate harm the products allegedly cause, its no big stretch to abuse those laws to regulate other forms of speech, such as advocacy for political opposition to renewable energy, on the grounds that the speaker is “advertising” activities or ideas which are harmful.