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Greenpeace video uses one myth to sell another

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If you still believe in Santa Claus, you'll be as enthralled with Greenpeace's newest video as Advertising Age was December 3.

The problem is, its message is as mythical as its on-screen spokescharacter, Santa Claus – or, because this is a UK commercial, Father Christmas, who's a little bit different.

The message

In it, we see Jim Carter, who plays Carson the butler on "Downton Abbey," wearing an open Santa jacket over a white t-shirt. He's in a dark, dripping corridor where the lights don't work too well, presumably because all the water we hear in the background keeps shorting out the circuits.

"Dear children," he begins,

Regrettably, I bring bad tidings. For some time now, melting ice here at the North Pole has made our operations and our day-to-day life intolerable and impossible. And there may be no alternative but to cancel Christmas. I have written personally to President Obama, President Putin, all world leaders. "Sadly, my letters have been met with indifference. Needless to say, these individuals are now at the top of my naughty list. My home in the Arctic is fast disappearing and unless we all act urgently, then, I have to warn you of the possibility of an empty stocking forevermore. Please help me.

The end title directs children and other naifs to a Save Santa's Home website.

The facts

There's only one problem with this touching appeal: Not a word of it is true.

According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center,

Ice grew at rates faster than average throughout October, at 103,500 square kilometers (40,000 square miles) per day compared to the 1981 to 2010 average of 87,500 square kilometers per day (33,800 square miles per day)...the ice cover is more extensive than in 2012.

International Science News describes just how extensive this "incredible arctic ice growth" has been, noting that

Just six years ago, a science article from the BBC reported that global warming would leave the Arctic ice-free by the summer of 2013...According to monitors, the Arctic now features an unbroken ice sheet that is larger than half of Europe. The sheet stretches from the Canadian islands all the way to Russia's northern shores. What's more, the Arctic's Northwest Passage has been blocked by ice all year. More than 20 yachts that attempted to sail the passage were left ice bound. A cruise ship was also forced to turn back around."

So if Father Christmas did, in fact, exist and did have "my home in the Arctic," the main danger would not be that it's "fast disappearing," but rather that it could get totally buried under tons of new Arctic ice.

As blogger Mary Katherine Ham mused in another context, "the strength of recent British dramas— 'Downton Abbey' the best example— is that the elegant accents make the ludicrous plot twists seem more plausible and dignified."

Same goes for pronouncements about the Arctic ice caps.


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