Yes, ‘brain pollution’ is real


A brilliant animation purporting to be from a mythical Ministry for the Climate Emergency has been doing the rounds on social media over the weekend (full disclosure: it was made by some friends of mine, from my other regular employer at the Badvertising campaign!)

With a commentary by a doctor, Chris van Tulleken, it has introduced two powerful ideas into the current debate about advertising and climate change – brain pollution and ‘commerciogenic disease’.

When we are subjected – as we currently are – to the kind of high pressure adverts which we see anywhere between 4,000 and 10,000 a day, then it is bound to have an effect on our brains. Especially of course, when we can’t afford the kind of high carbon lifestyles being promoted.

So is there really such a category as commerciogenic diseases? Look around you: at the weight of mental illness, and how it has has been undermining our independence, and really I have no doubt.

You can see the short film here….

It seems to me that, when radical centrists use the word ‘independence’, we don’t mean the kind of rugged American individualism of I-Did-It-My-Way. We mean something a little calmer: independence from threats – criminal, medical, governmental or economic – that can undermine so many of our lives, and our ability to live it to the fullest.

I wrote a whole book (Broke) arguing that it was the triumvirate who built our world – Thatcher, Howe and Lawson – who have so undermined our independence by weighing us down with debt. Even the idea of ‘downshifting’ from the 1990s seems so difficult now, because of debt-fuelled house price inflation.

That was why it was radical centrists and Liberals who led the way so often campaigning against pollution in the 1960s – using the Liberal definition: anything which constrains us by making us ill. Because the traditional Right tended to be OK with pollution as long as it was done by the rich, and the traditional Left was OK as long as it was carried out by unionised workers.

No wonder it was the eleven Liberal MPs who were the only parliamentarians to oppose the expansion of Sellafield-Windscale nuclear reprocessing in 1978.

That was pushing forward the concept of pollution and so is this. The idea is partly to hold the advertising industry to account for its role in the climate crisis, by ending the promotion of polluting fossil fuel companies and high-carbon lifestyles.

A range of uncompromising billboards will convey the key messages too, backed by a Ministry briefing on ‘What is Brain Pollution?’ The campaign is international with materials available for equivalent climate Ministries in Germany, Spain, Italy, France, the USA and Sweden.

The trouble is how can we get publicity for a campaign as important as this one when there isn’t a publication or broadcaster in the land who isn’t compromised by it?

Watch the short film here.

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Radix is the radical centre think tank. We welcome all contributions which promote system change, challenge established notions and re-imagine our societies. The views expressed here are those of the individual contributor and not necessarily shared by Radix.

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