Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Confounding ad

An ad for Claritan allergy medicine came across our office the other day. It has some fascinatnig claims about climate change, plant biology and allergies of course.

here's my random take/thoughts on the claritan ad

-"low-allergy trees" ..??????....seriously?....what, are they a root-cutting, sterile species/variety? ...what kind of tree are they planting?...that has about as much credibility as Coke claiming their product is a "low-fat beverage"

-250 acres that sounds like a lot doesn't it?...especially to the average consumer....pardon the pun, but that's a "leaf in the forest" compared to the millions of acres already covered in natural growth forest, managed forest and tree farms.

-they correctly claim that planting trees removes CO2 from the atmosphere....but fail to explain that the carbon sequestered in the plant tissue is also released back into the atmosphere and other soil compounds when the plant dies and decomposes....its called a cycle, and the average person doesn't understand that...which is why our Real Trees 4 Kids! curriculum is so important, it has a unit on the carbon cycle in the grades 6-8 section ...middle schoolers understand this, but Claritan is hoping the average consumer doesn't

-here's the main part that gets me though...they claim that climate change has increased CO2 levels, "causing earlier spring allergy seasons and higher pollen levels..." ....first of all, they must not live in the Midwest, where we've had 2 of the worst winters on record the past 2 years and ice-out didn't occur in Minn where I went fishing Memorial Day until 10 days before we got there ....and really, doesn't increased pollen levels actually indicate that plant-life in general is doing better, growing more vigorously and reproducing successfully?, on the one hand, they are promoting and planting more plants to lower CO2 levels, but with lower CO2 levels, plant life wouldn't do as well and also saying they have a product to help alleviate a problem caused by more plant life ...??????

I guess I'm such a cynic that I see nothing but contradictions in this.

And I still want to know what a "low-allergy tree" is. The VAST Majority of trees are not an allergen to people, according to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. In fact, only 1/5th of one percent (o.oo2) of tree species cause allergies.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Not to pick on China or anything...

We saw a great article today on a British E-zine called The Independent. Full article link here

It describes labor conditions in China and how workers are not allowed to form unions, negotiate for safe work conditions or higher wages nor get adequate medical care when injured on the job. What I found most interesting was the quotes from workers at a factory making artificial Christmas trees:

The China Labour Bulletin conducted a study of their lives. Ms Zhang, a 21-year-old woman who made artificial Christmas trees, was a typical interviewee. "We worked seven days a week, and we only had three days off a year," she says. "We worked overtime every night until 10 in the evening. The workshop was always filled with smoke. You couldn't see very far. When you entered the room, your eyes burned and watered, and you had difficulty breathing."

One night, Ms Zhang – exhausted and sore-eyed – was pushing plastic through an iron-roller when she felt terrible pain. Her hand was trapped. She was taken to hospital for extensive skin-grafts. Two weeks later the factory abruptly stopped paying for the medical treatment. They told her to get back to work. "I felt like jumping out of a window," she told the researchers. The skin on her hand is still peeling and painful.

"When you enter this factory," another young woman says, "you are under their control. If you get tired and want to stretch your neck or look around, you can't. They won't even allow you to look around!" If you do, you are docked the day's wages. To prevent workers from trying to seek out better factories, it's normal to pay two or three months in arrears. If you quit, do you get the backlog? Never.

I just want to point out that 85% of all fake Christmas trees purchased in the U.S. come from China, according to the Commerce Dept. If you or someone you know uses a fake tree, ask them if this story provides any holiday cheer while they decorate it.