"Kids: Your Time Is Up"
Global Warming Game Targets Vulnerable Youngsters

Steven Mosher
and Colin Mason
PRI Weekly Briefing
15 September 2008
Vol. 10 / No. 36
Reproduced with Permission

Watch out, Australians. According to the state-funded Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), most of you have overstayed your welcome on this good earth. The colorful flash site, called "Planet Slayer," starts with a cartoon called the "Adventures of Greena" and ends by suggesting to vulnerable children that they are pigs whose very existence has a horrible impact on the global environment.

Greena is a peace-symbol-sporting, midriff-baring heroine who looks as if she would be more at home at a Rolling Stones concert than in modern Australia. Not your average superhero, Greena careens through the cartoon chaining herself to trees, freeing chickens from cages, and saving bunnies from slavering death at the teeth of her dog, Schpinkee.

When kids tire of watching Greena antics -- this doesn't take long -- they are introduced to the "Planet Slayer Game." Here the player uses his mini-space ship to save the earth by shooting down incoming environmental threats. The game ends with an image of Greena, once again chained to a tree, bleating out "Never surrender!" No, really.

The heart of the website is a "Greenhouse Calculator," which supposedly calculates how big of a carbon footprint you have. The results are displayed in the form of three pigs. The first pig represents the Australian average, the third pig represents the "green" ideal, while the one in the middle is you. The average Australian pig is fairly plump, the "green" pig is dainty and cute, while you grow or shrink depending upon your answers to a series of questions. Thus you can see how much of a "greenhouse hog" you are.

The site also calculates how many years it will take for you to "use up" your "share of the planet." According to this web site, most of us, I am sad to report, should already be dead.

I (Colin) took this quiz to see how I would fare. My pig swelled up to a huge "greenhouse hog" and then exploded, leaving behind a pool of blood and bones. Over this gruesome scene appeared the words, "You will use up your share of the planet in 13.2 years." Since I am no longer a teenager, the implication is clear: I should no longer be polluting the planet with my presence.

Up until June, the game told kids that they should take the "Greenhouse Calculator" quiz to "find out when you should die!" Then, once they had answered the lifestyle questions, they would be bluntly informed that "You should die at age 4.8 (or 10.6, or 12.5)." Perhaps in response to complaints from parents, the version now up on the Internet asks only "Are you a carbon hog?" and then tells us by what age we have used up our "share of the planet."

Regardless of this change, the implication is still clear. If you have used up your share of the planet, the logical next step is to remove your bloated carcass from its surface. This is exactly what the image of the exploding hog still suggests. Does Planet Slayer, then, promote suicide? Does it promote population control? What is to be done with the millions of people who have long ago used up "their share of the planet?" What are they to do with themselves?

As if all this isn't disturbing enough, there is more. First of all, according to "Planet Slayer," it is very, very bad for the environment to earn and spend a great deal of money. No matter how eco-friendly I made my other answers, whenever I indicated that I spent over $100,000 last year, then my greenhouse hog swelled to hideous proportions.

But the game offers you a way out.

If you spend enough of your income on "stuff that's better for the environment" or "ethical investments," your pig becomes incredibly small and dainty again. I could drive a "fuel-guzzling" Hummer, live in an enormous mansion with no other people, eat meat for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and earn huge sums of money, but as long as I invested half of all my money in "ethical investments" it didn't matter. In fact, as I gave away more and more of my money to environmental groups, my pig became the size of a mouse and floated away. The program gleefully informed me that "at this rate, you could live forever!"

To "win" this game, and "live forever," you have to give big chunks of money to environmental groups. (Even the very poor who still somehow sustain a green lifestyle use up their alloted carbon by age 31.) Do Australians know that a publicly funded corporation is being used as a fundraising tool for environmental groups?

One final question: What are we to think about the promise of the website that, if you give enough money to the greenies, you will have eternal life? And they say that radical environmentalism is not a religion . . .

Steven W. Mosher is the President of the Population Research Institute, and the author of Population Control: Real Costs and Illusory Benefits. (Transaction, 2008) Colin Mason is the Director of Media Production at PR