Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Greenwashing: the latest step in the dumbification of America

Okay, so first I want you to watch this ad from Ford:

I started thinking about the lack of coverage of Earth Hour last weekend, and I realized that it's a clear sign of a much larger problem in America: No one cares about the environment.

I mean, we think we do, but really, as a society we feel there are more important things to worry about. The problem is that those "things" (i.e., the war in Iraq, the economy) are directly related to our obsession with all things oil. It's all connected, but we're too lazy to think that through.

Instead, we're quite happy to allow the corporations of American to lead us around by the nose. The latest example? Hybrid SUVs. As reported on NPR last night, just about every major American car company now manufactures a hybrid SUV. If you've watched any of the March Madness tournament, you've seen ads for the Chevy Tahoe Hybrid SUV, as well as the Ford Escape Hybrid.

And true, a lot of people are buying hybrid cars -- according to Hybridcars.com, sales of hybrids in 2007 grew by 28%. So naturally you would expect prices to be high -- that's the basic concept of supply and demand. But before you start getting a warm and fuzz feeling about American car companies and their dedication to the environment, consider this: most of these manufacturers tack on a mandatory markup of anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000!

To quote Wired.com:
What's galling is that car makers continue to push these hybrids--especially SUVs--in advertising. Greenwashing an entire company with token products has proven to be enormously successful, not only for the car industry, but for just about anyone else.

To be sure, batteries have been in short supply. And automakers didn't anticipate the price of gas when hybrid production plans were inked. Even so, the markup at dealerships is shameless.

And I would add that's shameless that we let them do it.

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