Something We Should Not Forget: Clean Coal Carolers

By Alexis C. Madrigal

When people look back on the early 21st century, I hope that we'll stand out for our literature and art, music and science, our general cultural vibrancy. On the other hand, what might mark our time is the ridiculousness of our political and social debates in the YouTube era. Take this video, which was part of a "clean coal" marketing campaign a few years back. It features caroling pieces of coal, which seems like a reductio ad absurdum argument against viral marketing.

Check out these verses:

Frosty the coal man
getting cleaner every day
he's affordable and adorable
and the workers keep their pay.

There must have been some magic
Clean coal technology
For when they looked for pollutants
There were nearly none to see.

Let's go with the anthropomorphism for a minute. The coal carolers, meant to stand in for coal's political supporters, will actually be burned in the power plants to which they are singing praise. Truth in advertising!

Via Alan Nogee

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2011/12/something-we-should-not-forget-clean-coal-carolers/250290/