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On the Exploding Kids Climate Video

By now, everybody has distanced themselves from a video released last week that shows people exploding into a million little pieces for not being willing to reduce their carbon footprints (including the group that commissioned the video).

The video, produced by Richard Curtis (known for making Love Actually and Four Weddings and a Funeral), shows a series of short vignettes in which people are asked if they are willing to reduce their carbon output by 10 percent in 2010, the goal of the 10:10 campaign. Those who indicate that they’re not willing to make the carbon cuts explode into a bloody pool of slop. Here’s the video. It’s quite graphic.

Yes, the video is graphic. Yes, it’s tasteless. And yes, it ultimately probably doesn’t do very much to move the climate change conversation forward.

But the video does have some worth as a metaphor for where we find ourselves in the climate debate today. As the video shows, there are lots of people that are willing to voluntarily reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Unfortunately for environmentalists, however, there are also lots of people who just can’t be bothered to make the effort.

You can say the same things about businesses and industry. Some companies are willing to voluntarily reduce their emissions for the greater good, while others focus on their bottom lines. While marches, protests and campaigns are all well and good, there are always going to be people (or companies or industries) that won’t go that extra mile. Some for good reason. Reducing your carbon footprint does often cost money.

That’s why many environmentalists are looking to climate and energy policy to compel (opponents would say force) companies and industries to change their habits. But policymaking is a slow process, as environmentalists have learned during the last several years. So, until significant climate legislation passes or the Obama administration begins flexing its regulatory muscle, environmentalists will have to appeal to the masses. You can bet next time they’ll do it with fewer exploding kids.

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