So I’m reading the Washington Post today and come across a full-page ad for natural gas from the marketing geniuses at General Electric.
Apparently nobody involved with the new ad campaign understands the unintentional irony, that natural gas is one of the most potent heat-trapping greenhouse gases. This, as we’ve seen, is something a lot of people aren’t clear on (see “Natural gas is mostly methane“).
Even when it is burned completely, natural gas is still ‘hot stuff’. As an exclusive 2009 analysis I published from climatologist Ken Caldeira explained, “the burning of organic carbon warms the Earth about 100,000 times more from climate effects than it does through the release of chemical energy in combustion.”
As a former lead engineer at Princeton Plasma Physics Lab explained in an email, this mean that “running a handheld electric hairdryer on US grid electricity delivers a planet-warming punch comparable to [the heat given off by] two Boeing 747s operating at full takeoff power for the same time period.”
In fact, the only way that natural gas won’t be a major contributor to making this planet catastrophically hot is if it displaces coal in the very short term and then is replaced shortly thereafter by zero carbon energy (see IEA’s “Golden Age of Gas Scenario” Leads to More Than 6°F Warming and Out-of-Control Climate Change).
Here is the full GE ad:
While this is certainly one of the most unintentionally ironic fossil fuel ads in recent memory, it still can’t hold a candle – or blow dryer — to this uber-ironic 1962 Life Magazine ad touting oil’s ability to melt glaciers: