ADAPTATION [Environmental Protection and Sustainable Development]

By Mitchell, Penni | Herizons, Fall 2005 | Go to article overview

ADAPTATION [Environmental Protection and Sustainable Development]


Mitchell, Penni, Herizons


When the automobile first hit the market, it was marketed as a symbol of human progress. Women's fashions adapted as shorter attire made it easier to climb in and out of automobiles. In fact, advertising at the turn of the century equated the purchase of everything from automobiles to soap with progress. Eventually, according to STRONGER THAN DIRT: A CULTURAL HISTORY OF ADVERTISING PERSONAL HYGIENE IN AMERICA, ad copy began to prey on fears and desires instead, and sales rose.

Nearly a century later, consumer fears and desires are exploited in ads that encourage parents to purchase SUVs to protect their children. No mention in the fine print about children adapting to global warming.

In my own marketing nirvana, I see a photo of the thousands of people in Toronto unable to breathe because of the pollution. They are standing at car dealerships with signs reading: "My kids will be safe when greenhouse gas emissions are under control" and "I'd happily pay 500 bucks for better emission control devices."

The reason I believe this day isn't far off is Wangari Maathai, the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. In her acceptance speech in Oslo, she lambasted the wars waged over natural resources, including oil. Maathai, an environmentalist who 3o years ago created the Green Belt Movement that reversed the rapid deforestation in Kenya, was jailed several times and beaten by authorities.

"Today we are faced with a challenge that calls for a shift in our thinking, so that humanity stops threatening its life-support system," she said during her acceptance speech. "We are called to assist the Earth to heal her wounds, and in the process heal our own."

Protecting forests, it turns out, not only means that people can have access to firewood and building materials in Kenya; it saves the rest of us, too, by holding millions of tons of greenhouse gases in the soil. It's the same with the boreal forest and other ancient forests in Canada. …

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