So just park all your planes in the desert

December 17th, 2007
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“As a further gesture this holiday season, I am pleased to let you know that Air Canada will match your voluntary carbon offset contribution dollar for dollar, during the month of December. Together we can double our contribution toward a greener environment.” – E-mail marketing bumph from the world’s favourite airline

An alert reader who flies a lot with Air Canada and has a bloodhound’s nose for self-serving absurdity and self-contradictory euphemisms sent this one in. As he put it, if we want a greener Earth, shouldn’t we be encouraging carbon dioxide emissions? After all, plants breathe the stuff and greenhouses pay money for compressed bottles of it to pump into their air – because it’s known to spur plant growth.

We know what Air Canada meant to say – that somehow making a “gesture” towards appearing to be causing some other unknown organization somewhere in the world to emit less carbon dioxide – through a suitable payment, bien sur – would somehow offset our own carbon sinfulness. This in turn would contribute to the appearance of improving the environment. “Green” being shorthand for all things environmental, making things “better” must also be making them “greener”.

Even if, at the end of the day, ratcheting back the carbon dioxide actually reduced overall plant growth. In any case the original logical connection, that cutting carbon dioxide is all about making the Earth cooler, not greener, was lost many marketing campaigns ago. And if Air Canada, whose core function essentially consists of burning Brobdingnagian quantities of kerosene, wants to reduce its carbon footprint, that the best way to do this is just to park its darned planes permanently out in that famous Mojave Desert aviation graveyard.

I also loved this promo piece’s unselfconsciously terrible writing, like “during the month of December”. That would be in order to distinguish the month of December from the shoe of December, the dog of December and the ice cream of December. Hey, if you’ve got nothing to say, you might as well say it badly!

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