1962 oil company ad boasts about ability to melt glaciers

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33 Responses to “1962 oil company ad boasts about ability to melt glaciers”

  1. audaxaxon says:

    The part of the statement that jumps out at me: “- if converted into heat- “. Ok, physics tells us that there’s a basic thermodynamic requirement that *all* energy that is released eventually be expressed as heat… There’s no “if” in that equation.

    (Disclaimer; I am not a physicist, meterologist or deg-reed anything, so please correct me if i’m off base here…). So… seems we’re basically time-shifting a bunch of ancient stored solar energy (heat) and releasing it in the present. Seems fairly clear that, unless the earth is able to dissipate heat as dynamically as the rate at which humans choose to release it, then the net heat on the planet will rise. Like the ad says. Right?

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes, on a long enough time scale, all petroleum energy will turn into heat. But on a daily scale, some will be converted to potential energy. Either by creating new chemicals (plastics, alloys, etc) or lifting mass (putting up buildings, dams, roads, rockets, etc).

      On a side note, using tons of ice as a measure of heat was common. Air conditioners in the US are often still rated in tons.
      For the curious:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_conditioner#Equipment_capacity

  2. Moriarty says:

    You guys do realize that global warming is caused by trapping heat from sunlight, not by heat directly generated from burning fuel, right?

    Depending on how cold that glacier is, enough energy in sunlight hits the Earth every second to melt several billion tons of ice.

  3. daneyul says:

    There was actually a whole series that used nature to help people visualize the amazing accomplishments of oil companies. This “energy produced” one was good, but the “volume” one, with the flock of birds and the caption “Humble supplies enough oil each second to completely cover 10 million arctic terns” was really effective.

  4. Anonymous says:

    What ads will our grandkids read, and laugh at us?

  5. penguinchris says:

    I think because of Mad Men many people have the impression that the 1960′s were a golden age of advertising with highly creative and effective ads… obviously that isn’t the case. The reason why the specific real advertisements featured on Mad Men created a stir is because they were so unusually good, which is unlike typical ads from the time (or any time). Not that I wasn’t born in the 80′s and was actually there ;)

    In regards to oil company advertisements in the 60′s, though, I have some insight. As a geologist I’ve read scientific journals from the 60′s, and some of them have advertisements. In particular, a really interesting one is the Bulletin of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists. It’s chock-full of oil-industry ads, and most of them are nonsensical. I’ve got a couple scanned on my flickr page here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/penguinchris/tags/aapgbulletin/

  6. TFox says:

    In 1962, it was already known that the planet would be warmed by CO2 emissions: http://www.aip.org/history/climate/timeline.htm . It wasn’t secret, either, here’s a 1958 TV special on it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0lgzz-L7GFg .

  7. michael holloway says:

    “..the petroleum energy Humble supplies- if converted into heat- could melt it at the rate of 80 tons each second!”

    In comments some people are trying to deconstruct/understand the ad speak as though it were science.

    The copy writers have left out a value for time so as ‘MythicalMe’ pointed out, the big awe inspiring numbers, “could melt it at the rate of 80 tons each second” is simply the BTU’s available in x amount of oil combined with the BTU’s needed to change water from a solid to a liquid. And again, over what time is missing from that part of the equation as well.

    So, trying to make points about global warming with the provided information is a suckers game.

    Interesting though that the post-war global US oil business started thinking big about this time – they had to, their business was global. It was a great enlightenment, very smart people were working in the biz. It is the beginning of the same ‘big think’ that helped us see the effects of our actions on a global scale (among other things, the greenhouse effect). The same ‘big think’ now sees that same oil business paying people to dispute global warming.

    Full circle.

    • Ambiguity says:

      …is simply the BTU’s available in x amount of oil combined with the BTU’s needed to change water from a solid to a liquid. And again, over what time is missing from that part of the equation as well.

      So, trying to make points about global warming with the provided information is a suckers game.

      If you take life too literally, you miss out on a lot of delicious ironies.

  8. Red Pill Junkie says:

    That ain’t too “humble” :-/

  9. doublethink says:

    I’d like to see a present day photo of that particular glacier, I wonder if anyone can identify it.

  10. igzabier says:

    truth in advertising, it’s between the lines?

    as in oxymoronic green fuel misses the point of conservation.

    hybrids use 10% more steel and deadly toxic batteries, so this ad is funny/disturbing but fingerpointing is easy when external

    how much glacier melt resulted from my internet misuse today?

  11. Anonymous says:

    1962 was before revisionist historians managed to remove the danger of glaciers from the public consciousness.

  12. MythicalMe says:

    Lest anyone forgets, Humble and Enco became Esso which used a tiger that suspiciously looked like Kellogg’s Tony the Tiger. Esso later merged all the trade names into Exxon which merged with Mobile, originally the Flying Ace.

    In some ways I don’t think it fair to judge something from 1962 by today’s standards. In 1962 most families had one vehicle and traffic congestion wasn’t a very big problem. Further, oil companies were more worried about carbon monoxide poisoning than carbon dioxide. I imagine that in 1962 CO2 was thought to be absorbed by the environment, which it might well have been had it not been for the growth of the auto industry and huge deforestation.

    In 1962, nobody was thinking that glaciers would actually be affected. The advertising indicates an energy output likely a calculation of heat which when applied to ice would cause melting.

    • OldRipbeak says:

      I imagine that in 1962 CO2 was thought to be absorbed by the environment, which it might well have been had it not been for the growth of the auto industry and huge deforestation.

      I think the problems with CO2 have only very recently been understood. I remember during the early 80′s natural gas was being hyped as the answer to all our energy problems in part because the by-products of burning it were two supposedly “harmless” substances: water and CO2. I’m waiting for the day when we discover the dark side of water. ;)

      • Charlotte Corday says:

        ..the dark side of water..

        Penn and Teller’s “Bullshit” as well as others, have done a lot to awaken the advertising-numbed public to the dangers of dihydrogen monoxide.

      • Anonymous says:

        People knew about global warming during the early 80′s. You can check atmospheric science, or sometimes even geology textbooks from the time. Natural gas is simply much better than tetraethyl lead.

    • neward says:

      Lest anyone forgets…

      Why? what happens when someone forgets?

    • mdh says:

      In some ways I don’t think it fair to judge something from 1962 by today’s standards.

      Or maybe, just maybe, toady would be a good time to finally stop punching “the hippies”* and start listening to them?

      * the hippies being anyone you discount because their logic points out that your reasoning is self defeating, and so you dismiss them out of hand, not because you’re smarter, but because you’ve bought into the monetarily satisfying yet soullessly false dreams that the man is selling.

      Or not. Your call.

    • Anonymous says:

      “Lest anyone forgets, Humble and Enco became Esso which used a tiger that suspiciously looked like Kellogg’s Tony the Tiger. Esso later merged all the trade names into Exxon which merged with Mobile, originally the Flying Ace.”

      Esso was formerly Standard Oil Company of New Jersey, and Mobil was formerly Standard Oil Company of New York (or SOCONY Mobil). These were two of the largest of the 34 companies split off of Standard Oil in 1911.

  13. Anonymous says:

    And the world keeps on going full steam ahead!

  14. Ambiguity says:

    the hippies being anyone you discount because their logic points out that your reasoning is self defeating, and so you dismiss them out of hand, not because you’re smarter, but because you’ve bought into the monetarily satisfying yet soullessly false dreams that the man is selling.

    Sure, but the problem is that the previous generation always seems absurd. As far as I can tell it’s always been that way, and I see no reason to think this magically stopped, oh, about the time we took the reigns. In 50 years time some of our most reasoned and reasonable beliefs will leave future commentators aghast. Which or our current beliefs about the environment, for example, will have led us down the wrong path? Which will stand the test of time? Who knows?

    Soulless dreams? The current fashion is to declare the soul null and void, a vestigial organ from a previous, superstitious time. One that the march of progress and modernity is finally freeing us from. Maybe it’ll still be that way in 100 years. Maybe it will fill future people with the same horror that we feel about certain cultural norms from 100 years ago.

    If you believe in the monotonic march of progress, you’ll probably see the situation as hopeful. On the other hand, the march of progress is what brought us the soulless dream.

    We’re always buying into some “man’s” dream. It’s just that it is easier to see it in others than in ourselves.

    • Donald Petersen says:

      Which or our current beliefs about the environment, for example, will have led us down the wrong path? Which will stand the test of time? Who knows?

      Environment? Why stop there? Heck, I’d love to put together a betting pool as to which of 2010′s Most Widely-Held Chunks Of Conventional Wisdom will be proven laughably false in a generation or two. Wouldn’t it be something if Viagra turns out to be worse than Thalidomide in the long-term? Or plesiosaurs turn out to be no more extinct than the coelacanth? Or Dr Pepper is shown to cure cancer?

      Or maybe genetically-modified food will be considered the safe and sane alternative to organic food, which will be derided as quaint at best and kinda nasty at worst. Y’know… ’cause it’s, like, grown in *dirt*.

      And maybe out at the beach, the bikini top will go the way of the wool jersey tank suit of the 1920s. Maybe the idea of people wandering around *without* their implanted-at-birth ID/locator chips embedded in their skulls might seem unbearably chaotic and lawless. Perhaps the concept of a personal automobile (or individual transportation of a scale greater than that of a bicycle or Segway) will seem as decadent as the sedan chair.

      Schoolchildren will no longer think Greenland is oddly-named. Reality stars will be too numerous and short-lived to bother with names, so they’ll be numbered instead. Gravity will be optional, though religion will not be. The recent brouhaha about whether Pluto should be considered a planet will be deemed particularly silly, since *everyone* knows that Pluto and Charon are all that remains from the hollowed-out-asteroid fleet of interstellar invaders from Sex C, whose abortive mission to colonize our inner planets was scuttled by the late-term onset of the consequence of overconsumption of Viagra.

      Can’t wait to find out!

    • Anonymous says:

      Which or our current beliefs about the environment, for example, will have led us down the wrong path? Which will stand the test of time? Who knows?

      Nobody knows, but you can get a decent idea of the odds. Everybody loses sooner or later, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have safer bets.

  15. agonist says:

    We’ve come a long way, baby! (or have we?)

  16. doplgangr says:

    all that, and they used to give you a lovely set of tumblers with every fill-up as well.

  17. wormbaby says:

    Ok just a stab in the dark no definitive numbers (just a drunken late night cynical guess) but this is probobly about the same amount of energy as running the worlds internet routers for a couple of seconds. Everything is relative.

  18. orwellian says:

    Glaciers, the silent killer!

  19. Anonymous says:

    In 1962, nobody was thinking that glaciers would actually be affected.

    What people don’t know makes the best kind of irony.

  20. Anonymous says:

    doesn’t look like the work of don draper

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