Global warming nursery rhyme adverts rebuked

Two nursery rhyme adverts
commissioned by the British government to raise awareness of climate change
have been banned for overstating the risks.

The Advertising Standards Authority
ruled that the adverts – which were based on the children’s poems Jack and Jill
and Rub-A-Dub-Dub – made exaggerated claims about the threat to Britain from
global warming.

In definitely asserting that
climate change would cause flooding and drought the adverts went beyond
mainstream scientific consensus, the watchdog said.

It noted that predictions about the
potential global impact of global warming made by the Intergovernmental Panel
on Climate Change “involved uncertainties” that the adverts failed to

The two posters created on behalf
of the Department of Energy and Climate Change juxtaposed adapted extracts from
the nursery rhymes with prose warnings about the dangers of global warning.

One began: “Jack and Jill went up
the hill to fetch a pail of water. There was none as extreme weather due to
climate change had caused a drought.” Beneath was written: “Extreme weather
conditions such as flooding, heat waves and storms will become more frequent
and intense.”

The second advert read: “Rub a
dub dub, three men in a tub — a necessary course of action due to flash
flooding caused by climate change.” It was captioned: “Climate change is happening.
Temperature and sea levels are rising. Extreme weather events such as storms,
floods and heat waves will become more frequent and intense. If we carry on at
this rate, life in 25 years could be very different.”

Upholding complaints from members
of the public, the ASA said that in both instances the text accompanying the
rhymes should have been couched in softer language.

The newspaper adverts were part of
a controversial media campaign launched by the Department of Energy and Climate
Change last year which attracted a total of 939 complaints.

The watchdog found that the other
elements of the campaign, including a television and cinema advert in which a
father read his daughter a nightmarish bedtime story about a world blighted by
climate change, did not breach its guidelines.

Ed Miliband, the Environment
Secretary, said that that his department had been “comprehensively
vindicated” by the ASA but promised to better reflect scientific
uncertainty about global warming in future campaigns.