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As God as my witness, I thought that polar bears could fly.
November 26, 2009 9:59 AM   Subscribe

NPR fact-check of environmental protest group Plane Stupid's latest commercial featuring polar bears falling from the sky. [Warning: graphic.] This is not the only commercial that has people upset. Enter PeTA's "Grace" which several NBC affiliates predictably refused to air during Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
posted by cjorgensen (87 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
in before anti-peta hate that's far out of proportion to their actual influence
posted by DU at 10:27 AM on November 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


Well, at least the name "Plane Stupid" is appropriate, even if it is misspelled.
posted by splice at 10:35 AM on November 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


Way to take a significant message and successfully make it irritating beyond all belief, PeTA.
posted by Go Banana at 10:38 AM on November 26, 2009


At least the group behind the first ad is very open and honest about what they are: "Plane Stupid"

PETA, I think we all are quite aware of what most of us meat eaters think of them. It's too bad they end up doing more harm than good through their ridiculous hyperbole. Their schtick is pretty much like what I get from the right wing noise machine.

That's not to say I don't have a problem with some of the utterly disgusting turkey farms and chicken houses I've seen. Thankfully I've seen a lot more that are as clean as is possible under the circumstances.

Another thing to be thankful for: My vegetarian PETA loving friends have finally realized that talking to me about their religion only leads to the same thing that Christians get when they talk to me about theirs: A full and frank discussion about the merits of their position. It never ends well.
posted by wierdo at 10:43 AM on November 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


On not preview, I was beaten to the snark by splice. :(
posted by wierdo at 10:43 AM on November 26, 2009


Any time you release a kilogram of greenhouse gas, god kills a kilogram of a kitten.
posted by battlebison at 10:45 AM on November 26, 2009 [5 favorites]


I think that trying to dissuade people from flying is a waste of time. When people fly it's normally because it's the only realistic way of getting somewhere, and telling people not to go where they want to go is not productive. It would be better to spend money promoting buses, trains and carpooling over car use, and energy efficiency in the home and office.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 10:46 AM on November 26, 2009 [7 favorites]


I found the Peta ad a lot less offensive than the plane stupid one.
posted by The Hamms Bear at 10:53 AM on November 26, 2009


I believe that dissuading people from flying is a virtuous and noble goal. I long for the days of expensive and special travel, when even coach wasn't all that bad to travel in; when you used to get dressed up for the plane. Anything that will keep people off the plane is good by me.

That way the airlines will have to compete again; and maybe they will stop trying to compete by cutting prices and start trying to compete by improving service.
posted by NiteMayr at 10:53 AM on November 26, 2009 [5 favorites]


energy efficiency in the home and office

This, a billion times over. We waste so much.
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 10:54 AM on November 26, 2009 [4 favorites]


Their schtick is pretty much like what I get from the right wing noise machine.

Though a lot of what people think peta is about is really the strawman that the RWNM promulgates. The example that comes to mind most recently is journalists begging PETA to complain about Obama swatting that fly. It's all about attacking "the presentation" so that one doesn't have to discuss the actual message. I'm not racist, but some blacks are just so uncivilized! I'm not homophobic, but the gays just won't stop flaunting their lifestyle! I'm not against atheists, but their books are always so rude and condescending! Same shit, again and again.
posted by kiltedtaco at 10:55 AM on November 26, 2009 [4 favorites]


It's too bad they end up doing more harm than good through their ridiculous hyperbole. Their schtick is pretty much like what I get from the right wing noise machine.

You are kidding yourselves if you think that PETA does not have an effect. By creating an extreme position they create a space for vegetarian and vegan discourse that seems reasonable by comparison. As you note, it is not dissimilar to what certain agencies on the right specialize in: Jesse Helms seems reasonable compared to David Duke, Mike Huckabee reasonable compared to Michelle Bachmann. But to say it doesn't work is just ridiculous.

Whether you like them or, especially if you don't not, PETA (whether they plan it or not) is very influential as part of the meta-discourse around animal rights.
posted by Rumple at 11:01 AM on November 26, 2009 [8 favorites]


Oh, it looks like I forgot to say something about the actual message. Ok, the airplane controversy just reminds me of (I can't remember who's)* solution for stopping global warming: we should all drop dead.

I don't like that solution, and I don't like solutions that tell me I cannot travel.


* was it Douglas Adams? I really can't remember.
posted by kiltedtaco at 11:04 AM on November 26, 2009


kiltedtaco wrote: Though a lot of what people think peta is about is really the strawman that the RWNM promulgates.

I don't need the RWNM to promulgate exaggerated stories of their antics. I hear about it from people who love the antics and read their newsletters, which cheerfully include gripping accounts of their ridiculous antics.

Much like MADD, I agree with their stated goal, but I strongly disagree with both their methods and the extremism they have developed over the years.

I wish they'd join us out here in the real world so they can help change the truly horrible practices at some factory farms.
posted by wierdo at 11:04 AM on November 26, 2009


And again on not preview: There's nothing extreme about vegetarian and vegan discourse. Where the extremism comes in is the "take over the world" attitude some vegetarians and vegans have. (Thankfully not the ones I know, even if they are PETA members)

I have no problem with people who choose to live that lifestyle. Good for them. I even make them vegetarian dishes when they come over for dinner. Where I draw the line is when people start talking down to me about how I'm doing all this evil because I eat meat. Sorry, guys, I have no problem with the humane killing of animals. Or even animal testing, presuming it's done in the most humane way possible and serves a specific purpose that can't be achieved in another way.

There are lots of things in this world that I'd rather not have in it if it were a perfect world. It's not, so the best we can do is work to reduce suffering and cruelty, both to animals and people.

What really gets me are the people who are so into protecting animals but couldn't care less about the suffering of people. (The homeless in most cities in the US are treated incredibly poorly by the police, the government, and society as a whole, going far beyond the indignity of being homeless in the first place)
posted by wierdo at 11:13 AM on November 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Another thing to be thankful for: My vegetarian PETA loving friends have finally realized that talking to me about their religion only leads to the same thing that Christians get when they talk to me about theirs: A full and frank discussion about the merits of their position. It never ends well.

If you've had "full and frank discussions about the merits of their position" and you still regard their position as essentially irrational, then your friends are under-informed.
posted by invitapriore at 11:14 AM on November 26, 2009 [6 favorites]


I think I'd rather be confined to a commercial chicken farm cage for a week than listen to someone explaining how PETA creates a 'meta-discourse' to me.
posted by mattholomew at 11:17 AM on November 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


We get it. You hate them. LOLPETA and all that.
posted by basicchannel at 11:26 AM on November 26, 2009


I'd like to see a Coke logo at the end of that Plane Stupid ad, would've been interesting, the movie "Titanic" had worse gore than this. But other than that, these weren't terribly offensive.
posted by peppito at 11:36 AM on November 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


Ah, on re-reading that comment and your later comments, wierdo, I think I misinterpreted you, sorry. Anyway, I don't think animal cruelty is the best way to frame the issue: the environmental detriment of a large meat industry seems like a more pressing issue, and unfortunately, people can't consume meat at the volume they do now and still be able to get their meat from a humane and sustainable operation. A move to all CSA-based meat market like you suggest won't happen until meat becomes a delicacy rather than a staple.
posted by invitapriore at 11:36 AM on November 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


basicchannel wrote: We get it. You hate them. LOLPETA and all that.

Only insofar as they are extremists. That sort of behavior is a big part of why nothing gets done in this country. As society polarizes, reasonable compromise becomes impossible.

They're merely a symptom.
posted by wierdo at 11:41 AM on November 26, 2009


What really gets me are the people who are so into protecting animals but couldn't care less about the suffering of people.

Do you think that vegetarians and other animal-rights activists are significantly more indifferent to the suffering of their fellow man than average, or is this a straw man?
posted by box at 11:43 AM on November 26, 2009 [10 favorites]


Re: the merits of persuading people out of planes

I think some of the campaign is, or at least should be, to do with how governments have traditionally subsidised air travel by failing to tax air fuel. In Britain this means that even very short journeys are ludicrously expensive to travel by train and equally ludicrously cheap to travel by plane and this is A Bad Thing. But I agree that trying to guilt-trip people out of convenient behaviour is generally an uphill struggle, especially when the consequences of that behaviour are not expected within the next few years.

As far as campaigns go, I was told that concrete is a hideously greenhouse gas-creating product and that we could stop more climate change by building hay houses and the rest than if we all cycled to Benidorm every year. Alas I am in too much of a hurry to post this to look up some evidence
posted by criticalbill at 11:45 AM on November 26, 2009


I find it fascinating that the Grace commercial seems to conclude that the only reasonable solution is to not eat turkey, rather than, say, encourage purchasing from an organic turkey farm.

Actually, I guess this is just like East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94's comment - people aren't really going to all turn vegan, but I think they could eat more responsibly.
posted by niles at 11:47 AM on November 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


I lived in Norfolk, international HQ of PETA, and even dated a couple of women who worked for them. When I asked, as I eventually did, "so... what's up with PETA?" it basically came down to this:

They're trolls, and they know it. The thing is, by taking such radical stands they push the bounds of acceptable behavior more towards their norm and away from where they used to be. You can see a similar effect in the health care debate - start with a public option and watch it move towards insurance exchanges, but start with single-payer and watch it move towards public option. PETA sees this phenomenon, recognizes it, and thus goes with shock tactics and radical (for Peoria) stances, knowing full well that the majority of the population will never go with it - but it will shift their stance on the aforementioned bounds of behavior in PETA's favor.

Also, PETA does lots of work behind the scenes that never gets reported, like their work against puppy mills, poor conditions in industrial farms, etc. You have to see it as working on two levels: tactical, which means the here and now (puppy mills) and strategic, which means larger, more fundamental shifts (vegetarianism, veganism, etc.)

So yeah. Trolls.
posted by squorch at 12:02 PM on November 26, 2009 [15 favorites]


box: Do you think that vegetarians and other animal-rights activists are significantly more indifferent to the suffering of their fellow man than average, or is this a straw man?

Most people are indifferent to the suffering of their fellow man. As a whole, in the US, people are quite OK with prisons where rape, stabbings, and beatings are prevalent. People are OK with leaving others to wander the street homeless.

Animal-rights activists aren't necessarily any worse than normal when it comes to caring for their fellow man, but the standard is set so sickeningly low that someone who has the intellectual awareness to care about animal rights ought to also be speaking loudly about the conditions some humans have to endure even here at home. So it's not that animal rights folks are worse, it's that my standards for them are higher than the average joe who doesn't think about anything beyond his immediate surroundings, since they've proven that they are aware of things that don't affect them directly by way of their activism.
posted by wierdo at 12:03 PM on November 26, 2009 [7 favorites]


It's a damn shame these movements keep pushing for individual consumer action, when most of the ecological damage is done at a corporate and government level. As mentioned above, #1 we've got governments subsidizing flights, the EPA looking the other way and not enforcing laws, not to mention say, the hundreds of sorties flown every day in our two wars. Or the carrier that consumes 1 million barrels of oil a year.

If you had three kids, and the two big ones ate the pie, would you then chastise the youngest about conserving the crumbs?
posted by yeloson at 12:18 PM on November 26, 2009 [8 favorites]


Again:

I am a vegetarian. So is my whole immediate family. So are probably 20 or 30 friends and acquaintances. Actually, in the part of L.A. I live in, I almost kind of assume someone is vegetarian until they say otherwise.

And I still have never met one vegetarian who tries to tell others what they should or shouldn't eat. I have never met one who thinks PETA is anything but an embarrassment. I mean, I know intellectually these people must exist, but I have never seen one- so it's odd when people attribute these positions to "all vegetarians."
posted by drjimmy11 at 12:18 PM on November 26, 2009 [12 favorites]


but it will shift their stance on the aforementioned bounds of behavior in PETA's favor.

I've never seen it this way. If anything, there hyperbolic, sensationalist behavior makes it easier for meat-eaters and those who aren't informed about animal rights issues to ignore the problem, because the public representative of those problems is a raving lunatic.

PETA does their own cause a disservice. The idea that their transgressive marketing somehow broadens the debate is absurd, and entirely unsubstantiated.
posted by mpbx at 12:21 PM on November 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


Way to take a significant message and successfully make it irritating beyond all belief, PeTA

A significant message made irritating beyond belief, you say? That totally sounds like thanksgiving to me. And there are disgruntled family members.
posted by dogwalker at 12:26 PM on November 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's too bad they end up doing more harm than good through their ridiculous hyperbole.
There's nothing extreme about vegetarian and vegan discourse.
what most of us meat eaters think of them

So let me get this straight. PETA is extreme. Vegetarians are not extreme. But vegetarians generally support PETA? How does this make sense?

My vegetarian PETA loving friends

Do these friends really exist, or is this just a rhetorical device? I'm with drjimmy11; In my almost 15 years of being vegetarian, I haven't yet met the mythical PETA-loving vegetarian.
posted by scottreynen at 12:38 PM on November 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


The idea that their transgressive marketing somehow broadens the debate is absurd, and entirely unsubstantiated.

It may be wrong in this case (it feels wrong to me), but it's not absurd. The idea is known as the Overton window, and it's pretty widely accepted.
posted by scottreynen at 12:39 PM on November 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


I just want to go on record, and state that I support dropping animals from airplanes if it will save the planet.

not to mention the jobs it will create in the janitorial industry.
posted by blue_beetle at 12:40 PM on November 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


PETA is a marvelous shibboleth. Reasonable people can fall almost anywhere in their opinions on whether they go too far and by how much. But if someone starts spraying spittle when the subject comes up, you know exactly what you're dealing with.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:40 PM on November 26, 2009 [4 favorites]


Crazy. I've had this dream. Only they were grizzlies. I watched grizzlies rain down from the sky and die after hitting the ground. Very disturbing to experience again.

I have no idea why they think this makes their point, though. It's really a cognitive leap.
posted by eperker at 12:41 PM on November 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Plane stupid are kind of missing the point on climate change. There's so much we can do to shift low-carbon economy at relatively low-cost without needing to change people's behaviour, that focusing on almost the only part of the economy where there isn't a technically feasible low-carbon alternative, seems a little nuts.

Mind you, this comment got me going:

the airplane controversy just reminds me of (I can't remember who's)* solution for stopping global warming: we should all drop dead.

I don't like that solution, and I don't like solutions that tell me I cannot travel.


Being dead and not being able to fly somewhere on holiday are not the same. I don't think the climate change will require people to stop flying, but adopting this as your first principle seems a little dumb.

Avoiding a global catastrophe is probably worth altering your travel plans.
posted by greytape at 1:12 PM on November 26, 2009


I'll happy read Peter Singer explain why I'm immoral for eating meat, but PETA usually just makes me giggle. I'm not laughing at them, just laughing, but I doubt that's their goal.

I'm pretty confident the easiest way to save the most animals is to write better vegetarian and reduced meat cook books.

How must to PETA spend on one commercial? Would that be enough to pay for one cooking genius to develop and write an outstanding reduced meat cook book? Could you get doctors to recommend this book to people who cannot eat much meat due to heart problems?
posted by jeffburdges at 1:17 PM on November 26, 2009


I find it kind of interesting that nobody's strongly denying the factual content or the cause and effect content of the ads, but the emotional extremism that the messages are presented with and the implied what-you-should-do-about-it conclusions. Did I miss something in that fact check article, or am I just numb from the outright, blatant lies of the US right wing?

From my point of view, the bottom line is that meat and air travel are over consumed and taken for granted in the First World and the free market would lead them to be extremely rare to that degree without government subsidization and hidden/externalized environmental costs. The vaaaaaaaast majority of the world's population rarely eat meat and never travel by air. If we're talking social justice, there's no way the rest of the world will enjoy our level of luxuries and attempts to try are going to seriously fuck shit up (e.g. a car in every Chinese garage!). Meanwhile, the costs of global warming disproportionately hurt the poorest people (think: struggling Third World subsistence farmers).

Personally, I like some of the stuff PETA does and don't like some of the stuff they do, which is how I feel about the ACLU and politicians and my previous employers, too, because I accept that the world is a complicated place and organizations are made up of a lot of people doing a lot of stuff. The reason you can paint a broad "all vegetarians love/hate PETA" brush probably says more about your own biases and selective memory. That's okay, though, because we all have biases, but it's good to be conscious of them.

Yes, the PETA and Plane Stupid ads are emotionally extreme and offensive, but advocating for the status quo is extreme and offensive in its own right. There's always going to be some cognitive dissonance and even hypocrisy with standing up for social and environmental justice, because very few people are strong enough to lower their standard of living to the level that would mean equality. I believe we should still try to do the best we can as individuals.
posted by Skwirl at 1:58 PM on November 26, 2009 [6 favorites]


the movie "Titanic" had worse gore than this

Are you kidding me?

That ad was sick; using violence in this manner is repulsive no matter your end goal.
posted by pick_the_flowers at 2:01 PM on November 26, 2009


so it's odd when people attribute these positions to "all vegetarians."

Yes, it's incorrect - but is it really that surprising? Many people live in places without lots of vegetarians, or without vocal vegetarians, so they're only familiar with PETA. And to them, PETA represents "all vegetarians" because they don't hear vegetarians saying otherwise.

Not saying that's right, and personally I can see what others are saying about PETA being extreme to push the envelope, but it's entirely understandable that people are misinformed if there's no one out there informing them.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 2:11 PM on November 26, 2009


PETA has to be the biggest gift ever to the CATO Foundation and the Heritage Institute. Seriously, they provide a convenient extremist group to lump with every person who cares about animals.

I mean, I've tried talking to my relatives about animal welfare, and how it is a good cause (I eat meat, although I try to cut back on it, so I don't really have an extreme position). However, before I can even finish that thought, I get an earful about how PETA supports domestic terrorists who burn down labs where people earn a living, and how that makes the animal rights movement (which, of course, is a different thing from the animal welfare movement) intrinsically evil.

Never mind that I didn't even bring up PETA. It's unfair. Whenever the conversation is about abortion, pro-lifers don't have to defend themselves for the actions of the guy who shot George Tiller, or any of the other crazies who do bad things to people who work for Planned Parenthood.

I just wish that a more moderate organization would be able to step up to the plate and try to win hearts and minds to reduce the amount of meat consumption and cruelty towards animals. It's a good cause, and I think it's just human nature that people will not easily go vegan. PETA can rally all they want about how cruel and awful people are to go fishing, but they'll only win a handful of conversions. And then, the libertarian and right wing backlash usually undoes all that progress and then some. And don't get me started on how they then ruin things for feminists and body acceptance movements with their ads.

Telling meat-eaters to go vegetarian one day of the week and getting them to follow through would be as effective as getting 14% of meat-eaters to go 100% vegetarian. Shrinking portions of meat also works that way. PETA doesn't seem to want to go for that low hanging fruit which would be great for animals and the environment, in favor of going for fringe ideological purity.
posted by mccarty.tim at 2:59 PM on November 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Would it be a bad thing to create a slaughterhouse that only kills animals when PETA airs commercials?
posted by Decimask at 3:10 PM on November 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


What really gets me are the people who are so into protecting animals but couldn't care less about the suffering of people.

What really gets me are the people who automatically assume that there is an objective hierarchy of compassion and that humans ipso facto are installed in the upper stratosphere of it. And it is because of people like this that I have been forced to repudiate the notion that I ought to care about any humans at all. I refuse to donate to human charities, but will happily dump all of my shrapnel into a bucket that says “South-East Queensland United Coalition For Slightly Distressed-Looking Budgerigars Who Could Probably Use Some Fresh Cuttlefish And One Of Those Little Mirrors They Like To Sing At”, even if the bucket in question is being offered to me by a person who is quite blatantly a granny-stabbing smack addict.
posted by turgid dahlia at 4:03 PM on November 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


I am a vegetarian. So is my whole immediate family. So are probably 20 or 30 friends and acquaintances. Actually, in the part of L.A. I live in, I almost kind of assume someone is vegetarian until they say otherwise.

And I still have never met one vegetarian who tries to tell others what they should or shouldn't eat. I have never met one who thinks PETA is anything but an embarrassment. I mean, I know intellectually these people must exist, but I have never seen one- so it's odd when people attribute these positions to "all vegetarians."



I had to give this speech so many times when I was a Catholic.
posted by emperor.seamus at 4:15 PM on November 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


I don't like solutions that tell me I cannot travel.

* I don't like solutions that tell me I can't drive a tank.
* I don't like solutions that tell me I can't own a machine gun.
* I don't like solutions that tell me I can't dump sewage in the river.
* I don't like solutions that tell me I can't pour paint thinner down the drain.
* I don't like solutions that tell me I can't eat endangered animals.
* I don't like solutions that tell me I can't shoot the neighbour's dog.

In summary, your preferences don't count for shit.
posted by klanawa at 4:16 PM on November 26, 2009 [13 favorites]


I'm struggling to see what's so wrong with the plane stupid ad.

Jet travel is disproportionately responsible for climate change, compared to its significance in the world economy.

Within an order of magnitude, a flight will emit the claimed 400 kg greenhouse gases (straight into the upper atmosphere).
Within half an order of magnitude, polar bears weigh 400 kg.
Polar bear populations are already affected by climate change.
Polar bears are iconic.
Choosing to fly for non-essential travel is a choice you can make, that negatively affects polar bears.
The advert is graphic, it deliberately intends to shock. Like many consciousness-raising ads.

So what's the issue? Is it that you don't like being told that you're helping to completely fuck up the planet? Does that make you feel uncomfortable, and you'd like to shoot the messenger?
posted by wilful at 4:42 PM on November 26, 2009 [7 favorites]


Oh, by the way, here's the latest verifiable climate science. Greatest hits:
* Satellite and direct measurements now demonstrate that both the Greenland and Antarctic ice-sheets are losing mass and contributing to sea level rise at an increasing rate.
* Arctic sea-ice has melted far beyond the expectations of climate models. For example, the area of summer sea-ice melt during 2007-2009 was about 40% greater than the average projection from the 2007 IPCC Fourth Assessment Report.
* Sea level has risen more than 5 centimeters over the past 15 years, about 80% higher than IPCC projections from 2001. Accounting for ice-sheets and glaciers, global sea-level rise may exceed 1 meter by 2100, with a rise of up to 2 meters considered an upper limit by this time. This is much higher than previously projected by the IPCC. Furthermore, beyond 2100, sea level rise of several meters must be expected over the next few centuries.
* In 2008 carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels were ~40% higher than those in 1990. Even if emissions do not grow beyond today’s levels, within just 20 years the world will have used up the allowable emissions to have a reasonable chance of limiting warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius.
posted by wilful at 4:44 PM on November 26, 2009


Bless me MeFi, for I have sinned... I laughed out loud at the PETA commercial. It was the perfectly angelic voice that counterpointed the message, and the (Oh by the way) "And thank you for rainbows" that did it.

Does that make me a bad person?

PETA is usually so over-the-top with their heavy-handedness, it's actually refreshing to see them get behind a message with a little bit of subtlety behind its delivery.

(Thank you, my son... Omminy domminy and three helpings of the lime jello carrot salad for your penance.)
posted by Mike D at 4:46 PM on November 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


So NPR's fact check finds that the Plane Stupid ad is correct. And their measuring the 400kg with polar bears is more than apt: global warming is killing polar bears as sure as dropping them from the sky.

The answer is: fly as little as possible. If you aren't crossing an ocean, you don't need to fly. You just like to fly because it's more convenient. I know people who would fly Toronto to NYC -- the bus ride is only 12 hours. Or flying btw Toronto and Montreal -- that's just ridiculous, considering that the train takes 6 hours.

Trains in Europe are brilliant -- but still everyone flies because a) the prices are all messed up and it's stupidly cheaper and b) they are lazy and impatient.

And I'm guilty too. I really shouldn't fly as much as I do. I do try to avoid flying short distances, but I have done it and always had a good excuse. But it was just an excuse.

But if I could take an affordable boat across the Atlantic, I would. We need high speed passenger submarines. Nuclear powered passenger submarines.
posted by jb at 4:49 PM on November 26, 2009


So... Do I count as the only one that laughed at both commericals, and didn't find either in the least bit offensive?

The polar bears made a nice splat... The blood dripping down, nice touch. I would have thrown in a few penguins, though, and maybe a seal or two, for some variation.

As for "Grace"... Well, the look on Granny's face, priceless, in a way that even Mastercard can't take credit for. And as she went to carve the bird at the end despite her prayer... Well, made me proud of my membership in the "top of the food-chain" club. Yeah, we cheated and murdered and, dare I say, fucked, our way to the top. And that little girl has no qualms about it - Good for her!

/ Vegetarian, but still proud that my species "won".
posted by pla at 5:10 PM on November 26, 2009 [3 favorites]


Submarines? Are you insane? Hydrofoils are the only fast boats. Submarines escape wave drag but water is quite dense and oxygen is an issue. Btw, planes can run on pure hydrogen quite effectively, just decide higher mach numbers are worth that zero crash survivors statistic.

European trains are only fast if your departure or arrival is Paris (well Brussels-London is fast too). Germany has good solid speedy trains that serve the whole country, but they are not usually "fast". France has fast trains between Paris and Lyon, Marseilles, Bordeaux, Lille, Brussels, and a few others, but most places have extremely slow connections. Fast means less than 3 hours plus flight time, by definition.

I personally love trains in France and Germany for numerous luxury related reasons, like no stupid airport, but a more realistic solution is electric cars with batteries for surface streets and ground-level power supply for highways.

Can anybody name any bad thing done by the ACLU?
posted by jeffburdges at 6:01 PM on November 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


What really gets me are the people who are so into protecting animals but couldn't care less about the suffering of people.

Who are those people, exactly? Because the people I know who're involved with animal rights are also involved in lots of other issues & groups, don't buy coffee unless it's fair-trade, etc. I couldn't stand being around them, but they were certainly the most involved people I'd ever met.

The homeless in most cities in the US are treated incredibly poorly by the police, the government, and society as a whole, going far beyond the indignity of being homeless in the first place.

Are they slaughtered and eaten?
posted by me & my monkey at 6:46 PM on November 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


wilful: "So what's the issue? Is it that you don't like being told that you're helping to completely fuck up the planet? Does that make you feel uncomfortable, and you'd like to shoot the messenger?"

Firstly, it's highly, highly disingenuous to suggest that every passenger on every flight is responsible for one (1) polar bear death. If that were true - if the situation were as drastic as the commercial implies - then it would be incredibly irresponsible to ever fly at all. However, that is not even the belief of Plane Stupid. From their website, their goals are: So, the commercial is an utter failure as far as actually conveying their message.

What's more, I have absolutely no issue with their goals. I think they are trying to get to a good place. But after watching that commercial, I am now 100% against actually supporting them financially or socially, because I don't like watching dead polar bears in shitty commercials!

So, while everything that the commercial says may be correct, the problem is that they aren't actually getting their message across, and they're alienating potential moderate allies. It's an utter failure in all ways.
posted by TypographicalError at 6:59 PM on November 26, 2009


It's highly, highly, highly disingenious, or just plain stupid, to suggest that that is what Plane Stupid are claiming.

it's a pretty well known and understood convention of advertising to simplify your message. There is a clear and logical link between non-essential air travel and anthopogenic climate cahnge, and between climate change and polar bear extinction.

Effective ad, tells a message, I like it.
posted by wilful at 7:05 PM on November 26, 2009


Firstly, it's highly, highly disingenuous to suggest that every passenger on every flight is responsible for one (1) polar bear death.

If you listen to the NPR cast, what they are saying is every passenger on the average Euorpean flight produces the same carbon weight as an average polar bear. The interview with the fact-checker was kind of good. He gave the commercial high marks.

A cost to cost US flight on the other hand would have these bears falling like snowflakes.

He also stated that the commercial was a bit misleading in that thought airplane pollution was the fastest growing, it was still a very small part of the pie. As many have already noted, there are other effective ways to reduce waste, but at the same time, these guys picked the area they want to impact and good on them. They can sleep at night knowing others are promoting those other things, or fighting other battles.

As for the PETA thing. They amuse me. I don't eat red meat, but I'll crunch most any bird or fish. I thnk a lot of there ads are effective. The one about neutering your cats makes me laugh every time.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:28 PM on November 26, 2009


Since I don't think anyone else has said it: mad props to the OP for the WKRP reference... I hadn't thought about that in years, and laughed right out loud.

"The turkeys are hitting the ground like sacks of wet cement!"
posted by rodeoclown at 7:34 PM on November 26, 2009


PETA doesn't seem to want to go for that low hanging fruit which would be great for animals and the environment, in favor of going for fringe ideological purity.

It's donation and volunteer driven system; it takes in money and people, does agitprop, gets more money and people, rinse, repeat. It's not about change, it's just a self-perpetuating spectacle.
posted by sebastienbailard at 7:47 PM on November 26, 2009


mad props to the OP for the WKRP reference...

Thanks.

Offensive ad with bears falling because they ca't fly, title referencing this, and also invoking turkey's not being able to fly either, ending with an objectionable turkey ad. I thought it had balance.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:06 PM on November 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


* I don't like solutions that tell me I can't drive a tank.

Where did you get your tank? I've been looking for one ('70s - '80s vintage M-60) with low hours.

"In summary, your preferences don't count for shit."

I disagree. If someone opposes those solutions someone else (the airline industry, agribusiness) will happily enable him to ignore those solutions at a reasonable price. Money talks and in this democracy-for-hire his preferences count more than any activist.
posted by MikeMc at 8:36 PM on November 26, 2009


it's a pretty well known and understood convention of advertising to simplify your message. There is a clear and logical link between non-essential air travel and anthopogenic climate cahnge, and between climate change and polar bear extinction.

How abouts you sit down and watch the commercial again while not focusing every fiber of your being on acting like a jackass, and then point out to me the time in the commercial where it uses the words "non-essential air travel"?
posted by TypographicalError at 8:42 PM on November 26, 2009


The homeless in most cities in the US are treated incredibly poorly by the police, the government, and society as a whole, going far beyond the indignity of being homeless in the first place.

Are they slaughtered and eaten?


According to Clive Barker they are...
posted by MikeMc at 8:45 PM on November 26, 2009


And while we're on the subject, just what is non-essential air travel?

Is a flight from New York to Paris non-essential? After all, we have boats.
Is a flight from New York to LA non-essential? It's quite doable in a day or three by ground.
What about a flight from New York to Chicago? That is certainly approaching drivable - only 12 hours or so.

My point is: this is a highly nuanced issue! There's a range of quite acceptable modes of belief here, from thinking that all air travel is evil and we should stop (although you'll not get a lot of takers there) or wanting to modify planes so that they are sustainable or improving our ground infrastructure which has been neglected in favor of cheap, fast air travel. Or, alternately, as the NPR interview points out, you could just... do something else that's more important, since there are sources of carbon emissions which are more important.

There's no reason to boil this down to this highly sensationalist commercial when the discussion we must have and the solutions we implement will be nuanced. This bears little relationship to PETA, who feel that they have a moral imperative to stop others from using animals as products to be consumed. Viewed in that regard, everything PETA does is logical, whether or not you agree with their position. Plane Stupid just doesn't seem to have any fucking clue what they want.
posted by TypographicalError at 8:49 PM on November 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't love most of what PETA does either...but at least they make people think about this stuff, talk about it and debate it. Rumple and Scottynen are right, I think there is something to be said for thinking the Overton Window theory applies.
posted by fieldtrip at 8:56 PM on November 26, 2009


see, the rhetorical bullshit you're using, that's the same as the rhetorical bullshit plane stupid are using. It's to sell a message. It has its place. Certainly it's grabbed your attention.
posted by wilful at 10:00 PM on November 26, 2009


me & my monkey wrote: Are they slaughtered and eaten?

I dare say that might be a better fate than being tortured through inaction.
posted by wierdo at 11:39 PM on November 26, 2009


According to Clive Barker they are...

That's just ridiculous horror fantasy stuff. They'd certainly be too gamey and stringy.
posted by me & my monkey at 11:39 PM on November 26, 2009


I dare say that might be a better fate than being tortured through inaction.

I dare say that you'd be hard-pressed to find one homeless person who'd agree with you. But if human history has taught us anything, it's taught us how easy it is for one person to prescribe the fate of others.
posted by me & my monkey at 11:43 PM on November 26, 2009


The problem with flying the way we do it isn't that flying is unnecessarily used in place of other travel methods, it's that people travel a hell of a lot more than they need to. Or really, than they want to, or that is good for them. A lot of travel - I would bet the majority - is for business reasons. And from what I've seen of it, tons of that business travel is totally unnecessary. So much of it is for utterly pointless meetings, and a lot more of it is for meetings that are necessary but could more easily, cheaply, and safely be done via videoconferencing. And many fields travel extensively - I've seen salespeople who were nearly constantly on the move. It disrupts their non-work life extensively.

So, I suggest that the change people need to make isn't canceling the flight to go see their distant relatives, it's canceling some of those giant unnecessary meetings, moving the rest into the technological realm, and telling the sales staff that they can't go fly to meet every single client. And air freight should probably be only used for things that actually need to be moved that fast. That would make a bigger difference than restricting people's home lives, and honestly, most of the people who'd be taking those business flights would be better off anyway.
posted by Mitrovarr at 11:50 PM on November 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


What is the best way to calculate the terminal velocity of a polar bear? Aside from dropping one from a plane, I mean. I'm pretty sure the bears should be falling faster and suffering more damage on impact, but only by comparing them to humans falling (AFAIK humans reach terminal velocity in the neighborhood of 200mph)

Sadly, Wolfram Alpha is no help.
posted by poe at 11:58 PM on November 26, 2009


The framing of this post seemed a little odd to me. Maybe it's just me, but I tend to assume that an article described as "fact checking X" is being linked because it reveals the factual errors of X, whereas the NPR piece checks the two factual claims in the ad and finds that they're pretty much correct. (I'm not complaining, just noting my initial confusion.)

The message of this advert is quite clearly stated at the end: "An average European flight produces over 400 kilograms of greenhouse gases for every passenger. That's the weight of an adult polar bear." That's a piece of information that most passengers likely aren't aware of, and it's presented in a way that makes it memorable in a relevant way. What you do with that information is up to you -- cut out flying, cut down on inessential long-haul travel, campaign for better rail transport, or whatever. The advert isn't telling you what to do, it's just helping to make your decisions more informed. What's wrong with that?
posted by logopetria at 12:07 AM on November 27, 2009


What is the best way to calculate the terminal velocity of a polar bear?

African or European?
posted by logopetria at 12:09 AM on November 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


poe, I think terminal velocity in that case would directly relate to the relationship between gravity and drag, which would mean the polar bear has a lower terminal velocity than a human due to greater drag. As regards actual damage, I have no idea but suspect it depends on a shitload of variables on a case-by-case basis that I couldn't even articulate.
posted by pelham at 12:16 AM on November 27, 2009


The terminal velocity of a polar bear is about 25-30 miles an hour. That's how fast they run when chasing a human, and by "terminal," I mean for the sorry-assed human being chased.

They're all over the ice about 5 miles from where I am right now. Sometimes, they even come into town.
posted by fourcheesemac at 1:57 AM on November 27, 2009


That's just ridiculous horror fantasy stuff. They'd certainly be too gamey and stringy.

You're obviously talking about large scale confinement lot operations, free range homelelss can be quite like your average suburban child.

Maybe it's just me, but I tend to assume that an article described as "fact checking X" is being linked because it reveals the factual errors of X, whereas the NPR piece checks the two factual claims in the ad and finds that they're pretty much correct. (I'm not complaining, just noting my initial confusion.)

Well, the commercial spot is only 30 seconds long, so if the only facts to check afre true...fact checking isn't always about finding errors. It's also about confirming data. Are you saying it wasn't fact checking? Or that just you expected lies in the commercial?
posted by cjorgensen at 4:51 AM on November 27, 2009


I realize we don't like to be reminded of the adverse consequences of the way we live, but it's hard to see what's offensive about the PETA ad. The assertions are true and cleverly presented. The ad is certainly more factual and less offensive than the Eat Mor Chikin and Happy Cows commercials that the major networks don't mind running.
posted by Karmadillo at 8:12 AM on November 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


cjorgensen: I guess "fact checking" (as a description of an article) has become (for me, at least) a non-neutral term, and carries the connotation that the facts being checked will be shown to be inaccurate. This is probably due to too many years reading combative political bloggers and the like -- "Media Matters fact-checks Fox's smears against Pelosi", and things like that. In a political argument, someone is more likely to investigate the veracity of a claim in order to attack or undermine the purported facts in question, and so the term tends to be used to mean "setting out the actual facts, in contradiction to the claims made by X". I followed your first link with these expectations, and so it took me by surprise to find a "fact checking" that simply investigated the facts and found them to be accurate. That's all I meant.
posted by logopetria at 8:52 AM on November 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


The comments pose an interesting question: How much does the fuel increase in weight when it's converted to a gas? I don't really think a plane can carry 400kg of fuel per passenger.
posted by tehloki at 10:22 AM on November 27, 2009


I really 'hate' PETA, but that ad is frankly spot on w/ their message; direct, brings reasonable points up to non-vegans (health/safety concerns for the individual and not just animal cruelty), etc. I really don't see the issue beyond being "challenging" to Thanksgiving norms. I can see why stations didn't air it but I don't see why it's controversial in the context of this post.

The polar bear ad, on the other hand, is a disgrace. The logic behind associating the mass w/ a polar bear just because polar bears are abstractly affected makes no sense. Its sensationalism and exploitation of emotional predisposition towards fuzzy things. And it isn't effective in putting across a direct and dire message. I fully agree with East Regional Junior Rumplestiltskin etc's comment that you just can't dissuade people from flying. The only thing that can do that is the economy and the occasional terrast. If you believe in this issue then you need to concentrate on practical day-to-day matters like public transportation, clean fuels, alternative energy, etc. I get the feeling though that this organization and like-minded groups recognize that the public already has huge awareness of these things and is trying to hit peoples psyches in different areas.
posted by rob paxon at 10:34 AM on November 27, 2009


Wow, never mind, I did the math, and a plane really can carry almost 400kg of fuel per passenger. What a remarkably inefficient form of travel.
posted by tehloki at 10:37 AM on November 27, 2009


God bless PETA and God bless WKRP.

The Plane Stupid folks have a good point too.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:28 AM on November 27, 2009


I have never met one who thinks PETA is anything but an embarrassment.

Hi, there. Wanna grab a salad?
posted by mrgrimm at 11:31 AM on November 27, 2009


I just want to go on record, and state that I support dropping animals from airplanes if it will save the planet.

This comment reminds me of a story Robin Williams told on Letterman the other night:

Bono was performing in Glasgow. He walked across the stage, and every few moments he'd give a hand clap.

"Every time :clap: I clap my hands :clap: an elephant is killed :clap: in Africa :clap:"

From the back of the hall, someone shouts:

"SO STOP CLAPPING YOUR FUCKING HANDS!"
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 12:10 PM on November 27, 2009


me & my monkey wrote: I dare say that you'd be hard-pressed to find one homeless person who'd agree with you. But if human history has taught us anything, it's taught us how easy it is for one person to prescribe the fate of others.

Yes, that's me, prescribing the fate of others. It's amazing the power I have; declare it and they are dead! More likely I was commenting about my personal opinion. I'd rather be dead than starving for months at a time, but that's just me. Others are certainly welcome to make their own decisions if they are ever in that situation.

As an aside, I think it's funny that some people were trying to call me out for making blanket statements about "all vegetarians" (which I never did), yet others write about how the PETA ad is accurate as if "all farms" have such shitty practices, which is not the case. Or how the Plane Stupid ad is accurate (as if). 400kg of co2 does not equate to a dead polar bear, as far as we know. If it did, we'd be in negative polar bears by now, and that would just be odd.
posted by wierdo at 1:31 PM on November 27, 2009


The only solution is to put together some sort of climate study summit and invite leaders from around the world to come and discuss the horrific effects of global warming. They'll all jump on their private jets to attend, they'll all be driven in huge limos whose drivers won't shut off the car for fear that the AC may be off and the car too warm for their VIP clients...Like the Asia-Pacific Environmental Summit in Jakarta when there were TOO MANY PRIVATE JETS, and it caused them to use a secondary airport to store them all during the meetings.
posted by Gungho at 4:23 PM on November 27, 2009


You can pry my Learjet from my warm dead hands!
posted by wierdo at 4:59 PM on November 27, 2009


How much does the fuel increase in weight when it's converted to a gas?

Converted to a gas in this case means combusted, so each carbon bonds in the fuel with two oxygen. Carbon has an atomic weight of 12 and oxygen has an atomic weight of 16 so the weight 1 gram of fuel is converted to 44 grams of CO2.
posted by martinX's bellbottoms at 5:37 PM on November 27, 2009


While I don't think that fully accounts for the effects of combustion anyway, I think what you meant to write was that 12 grams of fuel would be converted to 44 grams of carbon dioxide.

I think the correct statement would be that the burning of one gram of kerosene results in the emission of 3.155 grams of carbon dioxide.

Based on a quick web reading and quick math, you're actually better off, carbon footprint wise, flying 3000 miles than driving 3000 miles, at least if you're on a 747 that's reasonably full. That is, presuming the plane isn't empty. Long hauls in newer aircraft would be even more efficient. Short hauls in older aircraft would of course be much less efficient.

If you fly 3000 miles in a full 747, that will burn about 128 liters of fuel per passenger. Driving the same distance in a vehicle that gets 25 miles per gallon will burn about 450 liters of fuel. So if it's just you and your wife/so/friend driving cross country, take the plane. If you're taking more people, drive.
posted by wierdo at 6:23 AM on November 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


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