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ExxonMobil Errs On Television

Unlocking Potential in Algae

It’s there, right in the script, an outright fallacy. If you were in converstion with your friend on the sofa you would have missed it.

ExxonMobil have been playing an advertisement on British television about algae. Apparently there’s green algae, red algae, golden… While the rest of the world is trying to get rid of pond scum, they’re growing it. To make biofuel. Green, Low Carbon driving fuel.

And it’s not competing with the world’s food supply. Hurrah !

And it eats up Carbon Dioxide, the narrator narrates in passing… “Algae are very beautiful… they absorb CO2 so they help solve the Greenhouse problem as well.”

Is that a hooray, also ? No, it’s not.

Because the Carbon Dioxide that is sucked up by little algae, when they grow in the presence of sunlight and make juicy hydrocarbons, gets pumped right back out into the atmosphere when the biofuel gets burned.

So any claim, or hint of a claim, that ExxonMobil would make that they are sequestering Carbon Dioxide with their algal biofuel would be nonsense. No, it would be worse than nonsense. It would be a lie. And it would have to be described as a lie. An outright lie. If they made that claim, or were hinting at that claim.

If ExxonMobil are attempting to persuade us that their biofuel project will take Carbon Dioxide out of the atmosphere permanently, then they are incorrect. And people should be told. Like the ASA – the Advertising Standards Authority.

The ASA had the audacity to ban one of ExxonMobil’s ads earlier in the year, I believe… Ah yes, here it is :-

Sorry… no, it’s here :-

“UK’s media watchdog the Advertising Standards Authority banned the ad from being broadcast stating that ExxonMobil’s claim on liquefied natural gas as one of the world’s cleanest fuel is misleading…”

Maybe the ASA would care to ask this advertisement to go the same way : out of sight and off the air ?

And anyway, what business has one of the largest Fossil Fuel companies on Earth doing plugging their commentary into our minds via expensive TV public relations ? Why do they need to advertise ? What precisely will consumers do on seeing this advertising ?

They certainly won’t change their habits. They’ll carry on buying their fuel as normal, for their cars which they will continue to drive, as normal.

Why do ExxonMobil need to remind us that they exist ? Are they running scared or something ? Are they frightened of losing their ground to something ? Are the Fossil Fuel companies trying to convince us to support their continued existence ? Why ? The only long-term Energy future we have is Renewable. Fossil Fuel companies will not be necessary in future, surely ?

Complaint submitted to the ASA :-

The advertisement made an incorrect claim when the narrator talks about the algae biofuel he is working on :-

“Algae… they absorb CO2 so they help solve the Greenhouse problem as well.”

It is true that when algae are growing they absorb Carbon Dioxide (CO2).

However, when the algae biofuel would get burned in car engines, the Carbon Dioxide would be released again, into the Atmosphere.

That means that the algae biofuel would not permanently remove the Carbon Dioxide from the atmosphere.

This means that the algae biofuel will not help in solving the Greenhouse problem by absorbing Carbon Dioxide, as this absorption is turned into an emission later on.

It is wrong to hint that algae biofuel could permanently remove Carbon Dioxide from the atmosphere, as the narrator does in his statement.




There’s potentially a second major flaw in ExxonMobil’s advertising :-

“Scum artists: The false promise of algae-fuel companies : By Emily Waltz : September/October 2009 Issue : When Adam Freeman graduated last December from Kennesaw State University in Georgia with a degree in biochemistry, he wanted to work in only one field: pond scum. Freeman had read that entrepreneurs were squeezing out fuel from the green muck known as algae, and he wanted to be one of them. So he set out on an algae road trip. With a list of more than 40 companies to visit, he drove from his hometown of Roswell, Georgia, to Vancouver, British Columbia, and back—sleeping on couches and knocking on companies’ doors. But after four months and 18,000 miles, he realized that the industry wasn’t what it purported to be. No one actually seemed to be producing oil…”

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